Chelsea have been warned not to undo all of Frank Lampard’s hard work by going big in the January window now their transfer ban has been lifted.
Mario Melchiot has urged the club to be ‘smart’ with their signings and preserve the core of the young team that has taken many by surprise this season with their success.
When Lampard returned to Stamford Bridge as manager in the summer, few expected Chelsea to be in the position they are in now – sitting fourth in the Premier League and through to the Champions League last-16.
Unable to sign any new players when he was appointed, the Blues legend was forced to dip into the club’s healthy reserves and the young bucks have exceeded all expectations, with the likes of Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount, Fikayo Tomori, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Reece James all excelling.
But some of those players might be forgiven for being concerned about their futures in the team, after the club’s transfer ban was lifted ahead of the January window.
And, given Chelsea’s track record of regularly splashing the cash, former Blues defender Melchiot has sent a warning to his old club.
Speaking on the Sports Breakfast, the Dutchman said: “If you look at those young players and the way they’ve developed…
“If you look at Tammy Abraham, at the beginning of the season there was a discussion about who would lead the line, and he managed to get himself a number of goals that stopped the discussions almost straight away between him and Olivier Giroud.
“Mason Mount is one of those players where when you watch him you forget how young he is, and one of the biggest surprises for me was Christian Pulisic.
“He came in for a lot of money but he’s a young kid coming to a new league. In Germany he was struggling on the bench towards the end and now he’s had to really work hard to become a starting player again at Chelsea, and now he’s scoring goals and creating chances for other players.
“Overall it’s a great young team and everybody wants to play for the side, and that comes down to what Frank and Jody [Morris] have done – everybody wants to play for them.
“Now the ban has lifted if they start going back to what they did before and forget what they have achieved this season, that would not be smart.
“I don’t think they’re going to do that; I think they’re going to steady the ship and try to add real quality to the team at the perfect age.
“Chelsea had to work their way to where they are right now and this is the start of a superstar team, so you don’t want to start getting players in who are going to dismantle what they have already built.
“I don’t think Frank wants a player who is at an older age and then doesn’t want to obey his rules or the way he wants to play, so I’m sure they’re going to be smart about how they’re going to bring players in.
“The players who haven’t made their debuts yet might be thinking, ‘oh my God, where are my chances going?’, but I don’t think they should worry about it.”
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Ahead of the New Year, Lampard has admitted he is looking to bring in attacking reinforcements to fill the gap Eden Hazard left when he left for Real Madrid earlier this year.
And Melchiot agrees, saying the Blues desperately need another goalscorer to share the load with 22-year-old Abraham, as well as another central defender.
He added: “I think they maybe have to get a bit more steadiness at the back.
“But also I look at Abraham, he is the main guy, but if he gets injured who is going to score the goals?”