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Has Chelsea’s Transfer Ban Been a Blessing in Disguise?
In February 2019, FIFA banned Chelsea from signing any new players for two transfer windows. The club was found guilty of breaching rules regarding its dealings with overseas players under the age of 18.
FIFA doesn’t allow clubs to sign under-18 players from foreign countries, unless their parents have emigrated for reasons unrelated to soccer.
Following a lengthy investigation carried out by world soccer’s governing body, Chelsea was found to have illegally registered young players at its academy over a number of years.
The transfer ban was a huge blow for Chelsea at the time. Ex-manager Maurizio Sarri was clinging to his job, and the squad was in need of a serious makeover. There were doubts concerning the future of a number of key players, and the club was struggling to compete with the Premier League’s top teams.
Fast forward to today, and Chelsea is making the best out of a bad situation. Club legend Frank Lampard is at the helm, and he has seen this as the perfect time to give Chelsea’s homegrown stars an opportunity in the first-team.
In this post, I will be looking at how Chelsea’s transfer ban has inadvertently benefited the club’s young players. After assessing Lampard’s role in the youth movement, I will also give you my picks and predictions for betting on Chelsea this season.
Who Has Benefited From the Ban?
Since Roman Abramovich became the owner of Chelsea in 2003, it has been extremely difficult for the club’s academy players to break into the first-team. The Russian billionaire has not been afraid to pay astronomical transfer fees for the world’s top players, and this has led to Chelsea’s young homegrown talent seeking moves elsewhere.
Still, you can’t argue with the owner’s methods. Since the takeover, Abramovich has overseen a Champions League triumph, five Premier League titles, and a total of 13 major trophies overall.
Chelsea’s squad has been packed with star names in recent times. With the club’s managers under so much pressure to succeed, selecting an academy player over a big money foreign signing has not been common practice.
However, with a transfer ban looming over the club, Frank Lampard has introduced a new philosophy at Chelsea. So, let’s take a closer look at the Chelsea youngsters taking the Premier League by storm this season.
After a series of loan spells away from Stamford Bridge, Tammy Abraham is finally getting a chance to lead the line for Chelsea. Frank Lampard has made the 22-year-old his first-choice striker this season, and the forward is certainly repaying his manager’s faith.
His lethal finishing has seen him become the first Englishman since Wayne Rooney to score eight goals in the first eight games of a Premier League season. But it’s not just his goals that have seen him grab the headlines. Abraham is strong, and his intelligent hold-up play allows his team mates to make dangerous overlapping runs. His slick lay-offs also keep the team moving fluidly in attack.
Abraham spent the 2016/17 campaign on loan to Championship side Bristol City, scoring a total of 23 goals in 41 league appearances. Last season, Abraham’s 25 Championship goals helped Aston Villa gain promotion to the Premier League.
I believe Abraham’s loan spells have molded him into the ideal striker for this current Chelsea side. England’s second tier was the perfect place for the striker to learn his trade, and now he is thriving in the Premier League. Abraham joined the club’s academy when we seven years old. He now looks like the complete package.
Hailed as ‘the next Frank Lampard’, Mason Mount has benefited greatly from Chelsea’s current situation. Mount played under Lampard at Derby County last season, and Lampard clearly thinks Mount is ready to perform at the highest level. So far, the 20-year-old has not let his manager down.
The midfielder has featured prominently for Chelsea this season, and has justified Lampard’s team selection with some eye-catching performances. Mount has often been selected ahead of the likes of Ross Barkley and Pedro in the starting eleven this season, and I believe this says a lot about the youngster’s ability.
Mount’s red-hot form has also earned him international recognition. England manager Gareth Southgate recently handed the youngster his first England caps, and Mount has even been preferred to some of the country’s more experienced players in recent games.
Mount plays with a maturity well beyond his years. Following a hugely successful campaign on loan at Derby, the young midfielder has seamlessly adapted to the demands of the Premier League. With four goals and two assists in ten Premier League appearances so far, it’s clear that Mount is destined for a long and successful career at Stamford Bridge.
Tomori has been with Chelsea since 2005, working his way up through the club’s academy system. He spent the second half of the 2016/17 campaign on loan at Brighton before completing a season-long loan at Hull City in 2017/18. But it wasn’t until last season that Tomori really started to make a name for himself.
Like Mount, Tomori also played under Lampard at Derby. This has arguably given the young defender an advantage over some of Chelsea’s other center-backs this season, but Tomori’s performances so far have definitely warranted a place in the starting line-up.
Tomori possesses all the right attributes to become a top defender. He is extremely strong on the ball and his lightning-quick pace makes it very difficult for opposition players to run past him. He also times his tackles very well, and at just 20 years old, he has years of development ahead of him.
Due to Chelsea’s transfer ban, the squad is a little light at the back. However, Tomori has wasted no time in establishing himself as one of the team’s first-choice center-backs. Fellow defenders Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen have both been injured recently, but I think they will struggle to take Tomori’s place in the starting line-up when they return to full fitness.
Callum Hudson-Odoi is one of England’s hottest young prospects. Unlike many of Chelsea’s other academy graduates, Hudson-Odoi has not spent time away from Stamford Bridge on loan at other clubs. The pacey winger has been fast tracked straight into the first-team, and it’s clear to see why.
The 18-year-old has only recently returned from a lengthy spell on the sidelines, but his injury doesn’t seem to have stunted his progression. His acceleration is frightening and his pace allows him to beat defenders with ease.
Lampard recognizes Hudson-Odio’s huge talent, but the manager is keen to mould the youngster into the perfect style winger for his system. Lampard has made it clear that the teenager must continue to work hard and improve, especially if he is to live up to the recent comparisons with club legend Eden Hazard.
Chelsea turned down numerous transfer bids for Hudson-Odoi in the summer transfer window. German giant Bayern Munich was desperate to sign the highly-rated youngster, but he recently committed his
future to his boyhood club by signing a new five-year contract worth around £180,000 per week. Can Callum Hudson-Odoi be the cornerstone of Chelsea’s next great team?
Frank Lampard – Right Place, Right Time?
Eyebrows were raised when Frank Lampard was appointed manager of Chelsea before the start of the 2019/20 campaign. Many people, including myself, believed the opportunity had come around far too soon. With just one full season of managerial experience under his belt, it seemed as though Lampard was destined to fail.
Four months on from his appointment, Lampard is proving his doubters wrong. There is obviously plenty of room for improvement, but the inexperienced manager is doing an admirable job. Given the current situation at the club, Lampard must be given huge credit.
Lampard’s decision to put his faith in the club’s youth is something we haven’t seen previous managers do in the Abramovich era. Chelsea supporters have been used to getting excited about big money signings in recent times. But as a supporter, there is nothing better than seeing homegrown players shining in the first-team.
Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount, and Fikayo Tomori have been transformed from promising loan players to regular first-team starters, and Lampard has allowed this to happen. The manager could have easily played more experienced players this season, but his decision to back the club’s academy graduates is paying off.
Still, a run of poor results could easily see Lampard fighting for his job. Ultimately, soccer is a results- based business, and Roman Abramovich has been quick to sack managers in the past. However, as a club legend, Lampard will surely be given more time than previous managers to get things right.
Betting on Chelsea – Latest 2019/20 Odds
With Chelsea competing in four competitions, there are plenty of opportunities to bet on the Blues this season. While I don’t think the club is likely to win any silverware this time around, I do like the look of some of the interesting markets that Betway has on offer.
Let’s take a closer look at Chelsea’s chances in the Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup, and EFL Cup. After assessing the odds, I will attempt to find the best value bets for each competition.
Manchester City and Liverpool are a cut above the rest in the Premier League, and it’s highly likely that they will occupy the top two places in table come the end of the season. With that being said, I believe Chelsea and Leicester City will make up the top four.
Three of the traditional ‘Big 6’ are enduring very inconsistent campaigns so far. With Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal and Manchester United all struggling, I think Chelsea is best placed to finish third in the Premier League this season.
Leicester has made an impressive start to the 2019/20 campaign. Brendan Rodgers has created a well-balanced side, but I believe Chelsea’s experience at this level gives it the edge over the Foxes. So, betting on Chelsea to effectively finish third in the Premier League makes sense.
Chelsea to Win the EPL (Without Man City/Liverpool)2.37
Chelsea has made an excellent start to its 2019/20 Champions League campaign, and the club currently sits at the top of its group. After narrowly losing to Valencia on Matchday 1, Chelsea has recorded impressive away victories over Lille and Ajax to put itself in pole position in group H.
I was unsure if Frank Lampard would fully commit to the Champions League this season. In order to focus on domestic commitments, you often see managers fielding weakened teams in Europe. However, Lampard clearly feels that his squad is strong enough to compete on all fronts this year.
Ajax is arguably Chelsea’s toughest opponent in Group H, but the win in Amsterdam means the Blues now have a superior head-to-head record against the Dutch giant. Two of Chelsea’s remaining three group games are at home, so I’m backing it to finish at the top of Group H.
Chelsea to Win Group H1.72
Chelsea entered the EFL Cup at the third round this season and thrashed Grimsby Town 7-1. Still, with Grimsby currently battling at the bottom of League Two, you can’t read too much into that result. You’d expect Chelsea to beat a fourth-tier side comfortably, and that’s exactly what it did.
Reece James and Callum Hudson-Odoi both got on the scoresheet against Grimsby, and the club’s young players will be desperate to get more game time in England’s domestic cup competitions. 18-year-old Billy Gilmour also started the match in midfield.
A fourth-round tie with Manchester United will undoubtedly be a far greater test for Lampard’s youngsters, so it’s difficult to predict how the Blues will fare in both the EFL and FA Cup. I’d steer clear of betting on Chelsea in the domestic cup competitions this season.
I’m excited to see how the season unfolds for Chelsea. The transfer ban has enabled the club’s homegrown youngsters to take center stage, and Lampard appears to be the right manager to guide the Blues through this testing time.
Every cloud has a silver lining, and Lampard has allowed Chelsea’s young players to shine through the storm.
Keep up to date with all of Chelsea’s odds throughout the 2019/20 campaign at our top-rated sports betting sites.