Frank Lampard is ready to listen to offers for two of his defenders in the January window as the Chelsea boss looks to reduce his squad ahead of a potential Premier League title challenge.
The additions of Edouard Mendy, Ben Chilwell and the experienced Thiago Silva have been the catalyst for Chelsea’s laudable defensive improvement so far this campaign.
Although Lampard secured a top four finish last season, the progress of his team was undermined by a poor defense which shipped in 54 goals, the most of any club that finished in the top half.
The new signings and a decision to return to a flat back four have done the magic, but managing a squad which contains five senior centre backs has provided something of a headache for Lampard.
Cesar Azpilicueta has been the major casualty of the change in formation, while Antonio Rudiger and Fikayo Tomori have played very few games so far this season and could leave next month.
Rudiger deputised well for Silva during the recent victory over Newcastle and was praised by his manager, but he failed to retain his place for last week’s huge clash against Tottenham.
The German defender was on the verge of leaving Chelsea in the summer amid interest from Tottenham and West Ham, while Barcelona, who are looking for cover at centre-half after Gerard Pique’s injury, could register an interest when the transfer window reopens next month.
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Tomori, meanwhile, signed a new long-term deal a year ago but has fallen down Lampard’s pecking order and hasn’t played a game in any competition since the end of September.
Kurt Zouma and Silva have already established themselves as Lampard’s first choice central defensive pairing, while Andreas Chistensen has also been restricted to only five appearances.
Speaking about the difficulty of managing the squad, Lampard said last month: ‘It’s a difficult one when you have five centre backs so it’s not ideal. Some people would say they’d like to have five centre backs of that quality but you have to deal with it week to week to give them the game time and stuff.
‘There are probably two or three of them who don’t like them very much but we have to have standards and people pushing to get in the team. That depends on how you train, how you are and when you get your chance to take it those are the rules.’