This past week has seen the return to training for clubs throughout the UK as plans to get football started as soon as possible look to be taking place. The response from both sides, professional and public, has been extremely mixed. In general, the return to training has been welcomed as it relieves the stress and strains on player’s physical and mental wellbeing, after being forced to stay inside. Nonetheless, players such as Troy Deeney, Todd Cantwell, Raheem Sterling and N’Golo Kante have all spoken out about their disapproval towards the return to training.
Troy Deeney, equally known for his outspoken personality as well as his goal scoring prowess, articulated aptly that he would not be returning to training amidst fears over his young child’s safety. This could not have been better timed from the Watford frontman, as at the first session back, central defender Adrian Mariappa tested positive for COVID-19, strengthening Deeney’s position even further.
In the Chelsea camp, N’Golo Kante has outlined that he is willing to miss the remainder of the season, whenever that is meant to be, due to fears surrounding the virus. Whilst fans from rival clubs will always find ways to poke holes into Chelsea, throughout this period, the club has set precedent for how clubs should be operating at this time. This motif has only continued with Kante, as the club and fans have vocally supported the Frenchman in his decision to put his health and safety over sport. The Chelsea fans have, on the whole, done themselves proud this time around.
It is very easy for fans to forget what Todd Cantwell phrased so perfectly that footballers are “people too”. There is a portion of supporters who feel that, the massive wages and public profile is enough to force players back to training to essentially entertain a fan-base. However, the majority of people are reasonable and intelligent and they realise that an individuals health is much more valuable than returning to training. Nothing is worth as much as a person’s health making football near the bottom of the priority lists.
This rumour has been extensively covered by a plethora of news outlets as well as in articles and videos by us at SW6Daily, however this week the rumour mill has continued to churn out Chelsea’s interest in Ajax shot-stopper Andre Onana.
This comes from the news that Spanish club Valencia are seemingly interested in finding a new goalkeeper and have identified out of favour Kepa Arrizabalaga as one of their top targets to bring in, initially on loan, this summer. It is well known that Kepa has struggled with his form and confidence throughout the entire season, having been dropped for Caballero, as Lampard and his management team seem far from impressed by his ability and attitude.
Prior to this season, however, Kepa was looking like an exciting prospect and put in some top performances in big games, such as the Europa League semi-final against Frankfurt last season. Fans are split on what to do with Kepa, but it seems that Lampard is keen to look for replacements as soon as possible.
Onana has once again had another impressive season between the sticks in Amsterdam. Perhaps less outstanding than the season previously when Ajax nearly completed the romantics dream of reaching their first Champions League final in twenty five years, but still impressive nonetheless. His 72% save percentage this term places him far in excess of Kepa’s 57% this season. Equally, having already secured Ziyech, the move for Onana looks like it could be completed, unless reports suggesting the players desire to return to Barcelona are to be believed.
Much has been made on social media in the last week about German wonder kid Kai Havertz. His performances following the return of the Bundesliga have been outstanding, with four goals in two games as he has shifted his position from attacking midfield to striker as Kevin Volland remains side-lined due to an ankle injury.
Havertz has been the focal point of German football for some time now. Firstly, becoming the youngest player to make 50 and 100 Bundesliga appearance which is an impressive record for any young player. Secondly, his performances speak for themselves. Having contributed this season to 14 goals and 8 assists in 36 games across all competitions- outstanding numbers for any seasoned professional- they are incredible for a 20 year-old attacking midfielder.
It has been suggested that Havertz would cost anywhere between €90-120 million. This seems slightly hyperbolic in today’s uncertain global financial climate, and it is more than likely that this price has been set to scare off some of the world’s superpower clubs that have been circling for some time. Havertz would add quality and youth to any side that is lucky enough to lure him away from Leverkusen, yet, the talk from Chelsea fans has been comparing who would be more worthwhile a signing between Havertz and Sancho. This is a debate that is set to continue over the coming weeks, but one thing is certain, both are extremely talented and valuable players that would add untold quality to Chelsea’s first team squad. Worth keeping an eye on both as the Bundesliga continues.
Only surfacing very recently have been the rumours claiming that Chelsea have joined the race to land PSG/Inter Milan striker Mauro Icardi as his future looks uncertain in Milan and in Paris.
Chelsea have been long-time admirers of the Argentine who has put up outstanding goal-scoring numbers every season he has played over the last four seasons. This season alone, in a squad whose attacking roster boasts Neymar, Mbappe, Cavani and Di Maria, Icardi has scored 20 goals and assisted 4 in 31 appearances in all competitions. This may be slightly inflated as he plays in the most dominant team in that league by far. However in the 2018/19 season, he contributed 17 goals and 5 assists in 37 games for an Inter Milan side that is far from the level of Conte’s this season.
With the rumoured price being around £60 million, an approach for 27 year-old wouldn’t the worst idea. However, it would call into question Tammy’s future role, considering he is yet to sign a new long-term contract. This is a development worth keeping an eye on. There is also the small issue of Icardi’s ‘agent’ Wanda Nara.
This week’s good news comes in the form of two contract extensions for some of our most senior players in Olivier Giroud and Willy Caballero. Both players are past their best, but can offer valuable experience to help the club push further across all competitions.
Since joining the Blues, both players have added to their trophy cabinet as well as having the majority of fan support, specifically Giroud following his ‘Thank you Arsenal” on the team bus following last season’s Europa League triumph. Additionally, in a side dominated by youth, having experienced figures of some quality helping add to the development of the youngsters will help Lampard’s plan for long-term success.
By Jai McIntosh
Edited by Rob Pratley