HOW MUCH HAS THE BIG SPENDING SUMMER OF 2020 BENEFITED THOMAS TUCHEL'S CHELSEA?
The way Thomas Tuchel has transformed Chelsea since taking over in late January has been nothing short of remarkable. He guided them to Champions League glory in May, knocking out La Liga winners Atletico Madrid along the way to eventually edge past English champions Manchester City in the final, and followed that victory up with Super Cup success against Villarreal.
Now, heading into November, his Chelsea side sit 3 points clear at the top of the Premier League after 3 consecutive wins without conceding, with a deep squad that looks primed to compete on multiple fronts this season. But how much of his success can we attribute to the recruitment of his predecessor, Blues legend Frank Lampard?
Lampard spent upwards of £200m in the summer of 2020 as he looked to take Chelsea to the next step, but as we know it wasn't to be. However, some of those players who perhaps didn't live up to expectation under Lampard have now played starring roles for Tuchel. So how much has the German benefited off of the heavy-spending window of last summer? Let's take a look.
Hakim Ziyech: Signed for £36 million from Ajax shortly after the January transfer window in 2020, the Moroccan was brought in to address a lack of creativity in the Blues squad, and subsequently arrived at Cobham that summer. Hip and knee injuries interrupted his maiden Premier League campaign, and Ziyech never managed to nail down a starting position for Chelsea, but scored crucial goals in the FA Cup and the Champions League. Most notably, the FA Cup semi-final to knock out Manchester City in a 1-0 win at Wembley, and against the same opposition at the Etihad Stadium, contributing to a crucial win in the Premier League. Ziyech will be hoping to show the qualities under Thomas Tuchel that led to Frank Lampard acquiring his services, especially after 6 consecutive seasons recording double figures in assists in the Eredivisie, with that number dropping to just 3 in the Premier League last season.
Kai Havertz: The then 21 year old became Chelsea's record signing when he was brought in from Bayer Leverkusen for £72m, after he emerged as one of the brightest talents in Europe, scoring 29 Bundesliga goals in two seasons. The weight of expectation that came with the price tag perhaps bore down on the German, further complicating the process of adapting to a new league and new language. His form was up and down, but the arrival of Tuchel was earmarked to help his compatriot, and that decision paid dividends. Havertz would go on to score the winner in the Champions League final, and we saw much more of the natural talent he possesses, either in wide positions or centrally. Still only 22, Havertz has plenty of time to become the superstar he promised to be, and the obvious improvements he's made over time in his first year in England show he's resilient enough to reach the top.
Ben Chilwell: Left-back was a pressing issue for Frank Lampard and the Chelsea board, and they quickly identified the Englishman as their first choice target, eventually spending £45 million to prise him away from Leicester City. Chilwell started 39 games in all competitions last season playing a starring role in their Champions League success and was the clear first choice under Lampard. But with Tuchel deploying a wing back system upon his arrival, previously frozen out Marcos Alonso saw more game time, having previously shone at wing back for Antonio Conte. Chilwell endured a difficult start to this season, failing to play a single minute for England at the Euros and having to wait almost 4 months for competitive football until he got a start in the Carabao Cup, but the desire to reclaim his position in Tuchel's favoured eleven has led to a purple patch in front of goal and stellar performances. Chilwell knows he will need to maintain his high performance levels with Alonso breathing down his neck for the starting left wing back berth, but the friendly competition is certainly bringing the best out of the 24 year old.
Thiago Silva: The veteran defender, now 37, was never going to be a long term option for Chelsea, but he has given them everything they expected and more. Experience, leadership, composure and intelligence has been added to the Blues backline, and while he may be unable to play every game in the twilight of his career, you certainly notice when he's there. A solid first campaign on English soil, including 2 goals, ended in disappointment as he was forced off in the first half of the Champions League, but it mattered not as he watched his side lift the trophy, knowing he was instrumental in reaching the occasion. His wealth of experience is also rubbing off on younger defenders such as Trevoh Chalobah and Andreas Christensen, and the Brazilian has more than justified Frank Lampard's decision to bring him in, proving valuable for Thomas Tuchel in more ways than one.
Timo Werner: Perhaps the most disappointing arrival considering the way he had tore apart many a Bundesliga defence in his time at RB Leipzig, the German has failed to live up to expectation. Scoring 95 times in 159 appearances for Leipzig, Werner was acquired to add further firepower, but as a striker who thrived on running in behind, the 25 year old perhaps struggled to adapt to deep-sitting teams in the Premier League. He garnered social media attention for the wrong reasons, having missed 18 big chances in the Premier League, however still recorded 12 goals and 11 assists in all competitions last season. With Romelu Lukaku now on board to shoulder some of the goalscoring burden, Werner will hope to prove why Chelsea spent £47 million on him, and force his way into Thomas Tuchel's plans with plenty of competition in the attacking roles.
Edouard Mendy: The most astute signing of the lot, a Senegalese goalkeeper plying his trade at Rennes, has arguably fared the best of the six summer 2020 recruits. With Kepa Arrizabalaga a liability in the Chelsea goal, the goalkeeper position became a problem area, and who better than Petr Cech to listen to on the subject of shot-stoppers. Cech recommended Mendy to the Chelsea board, and he was duly acquired for £21 million. Since then, the Senegal international has kept an astonishing 22 clean sheets in 40 Premier League games, as well as breaking the Champions League record keeping 9 clean sheets en route to lifting the trophy. From being a relatively unknown quantity to being recognized as one of the best goalkeepers in Europe, Mendy's stock has risen dramatically, and Tuchel knows he can count on his number 1, following up last season's achievements with 6 clean sheets in 9 Premier League games so far this season, and conceding just 3 from an XG conceded of 10. There's no doubt who's number 1 for the Blues.