For a football manager, it is the greatest gift of them all at Christmas: the green light to go out and send money in the January transfer window.
And Frank Lampard will be given carte blanche to do exactly that at Chelsea after the club’s transfer ban was reduced following an appeal.
FIFA’s initial ban went to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas), who are also currently considering Manchester City’s appeal for a similar ‘crime’, and they found that the Blues’ punishment was far too severe.
So now, their ban has been lifted and they are free to sign new players as of January, with their fine halved to around £230,000.
The initial charge related to the signing of players under the age of 18, on which FIFA has strict guidelines. In those instances, young talents are only allowed to move a certain number of miles to other countries, and plans have to be made to provide parents and guardians with adequate living conditions.
FIFA believed that Chelsea had breached these rulings on 159 separate occasions in deals involving 69 academy players, and handed out a two-window transfer ban to the club back in February.
But Cas decided to reduce that to a one-window ban, which was effectively served in the summer.
So Lampard has the opportunity to strengthen a Chelsea squad untouched by new signings in the best part of the year, and here are five candidates that are sure to on his January wishlist:
“He’s a big threat and a fantastic player. His game has really come on. He is a joy to watch when he’s not against you because he moves so well with the ball. He’s a really good player.”
That was the Chelsea manager’s assessment of Grealish after their win over Aston Villa, and as somebody known for his penchant for young British talent the 24-year-old fits the bill.
Lampard won’t want to run Mason Mount into the ground in his first full Premier League season, so capturing the Midlands man to lighten the load makes sense.
The Metro has reported within hours of the transfer ban being lifted that Chelsea have opened up talks with Wilfried Zaha over a move across London.
He certainly fits the bill as a young, exciting talent, with the likes of Willian and Pedro thought to be on borrowed time at Stamford Bridge.
A hefty fee might be a stumbling block, although he Blues might look to sweeten the deal by loaning Zaha back to Crystal Palace for the rest of the season.
Young, talented and British (sort of).
Those are the three main tenets of Frank Lampard’s transfer policy, and so Declan Rice will presumably be on the shortlist.
Chelsea have a proven midfield trio in N’Golo Kante, Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic, but there isn’t a great deal of depth in that department and so reinforcements may be sought.
You suspect the player would be only too willing to link up with a manager likely to push his career forward.
A former Chelsea man already, Nathan Ake could slip straight into his old employer’s back four.
The jury is still out on Kurt Zouma, and while Lampard is a known fan of Andras Christensen and Fikayo Tomori he might still want to stock up on centre backs.
The fact that the Bournemouth man could also fill in at left back, a problem position for Lampard, also appeals.
One weakness in this excellent Chelsea side is at left back.
Lampard simply doesn’t like Marcos Alonso, he could not make that any plainer, while nobody is quite convinced that Emerson Palmieri is the long-term solution.
Scored a goal too ?? pic.twitter.com/3GOCKXbFbo
— Ben Chilwell (@BenChilwell) 25 October 2019
Ben Chilwell – you got it: young, talented and British – would fit the bill as a successor, although whether he would want to leave Leicester right now remains to be seen.