Ben Chilwell a hit, Kai Havertz a miss: Assessing Frank Lampard's signings at Chelsea

Blues in the market for a new manager after dismissing Lampard on Monday

Powered by automated translation

Frank Lampard was fired as Chelsea manager on Monday after one-and-a-half seasons in charge. The former Blues midfielder – the club's all-time record goalscorer – was relieved of his duties after an alarming slump in form that saw Chelsea slip from top of the Premier League to ninth at the halfway stage of the campaign.

Lampard earned plenty of plaudits for his first season when he guided Chelsea into the top four and the FA Cup final while contending with a transfer ban and the sale of the team's best player, Eden Hazard, to Real Madrid.

Expectations were markedly higher this season, though, after a summer spending spree totalling nearly €250 million ($304m) and the arrival of some of Europe's brightest talents.

It has been the lack of immediate impact from some of those players that has contributed to Lampard's dismissal, so as Chelsea begin the hunt for their next manager, here is a look at how those new signings ultimately fared under Lampard.

Kai Havertz (€90m/$109.3m)

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 24: Kai Havertz of Chelsea in action during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on October 24, 2020 in Manchester, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Kai Havertz. Getty Images

When the young German midfielder signed from Bayer Leverkusen last summer, it was heralded as a defining moment for Chelsea’s future. This, after all, was a player widely expected to join Real Madrid before the coronavirus pandemic forced most clubs to tighten the purse strings.

Havertz, 21, spent the previous two seasons establishing himself as one of the best players in the Bundesliga where he scored 29 goals. His contribution to Chelsea, however, has so far been minimal, with five goals in all competitions including a hat-trick against lower league opponents in the Carabao Cup.

Of course, it’s still very early days for a young player that deserves time to adapt, and his spell sidelined with Covid has hardly helped his transition. But his lack of impact has played its part in Chelsea’s struggles and ultimately Lampard’s demise.

Much of the blame can be placed on the manager, who signed a supremely talented No 10 and never implemented a system that would maximise those talents. It will be a key task for the next coach in at Stamford Bridge to get the best out of Havertz. Verdict: Miss

Timo Werner (€53m)

Soccer Football - Premier League - Fulham v Chelsea - Craven Cottage, London, Britain - January 16, 2021 Chelsea manager Frank Lampard with Timo Werner after the match Pool via REUTERS/Clive Rose EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club /league/player publications.  Please contact your account representative for further details.
Tomo Werner with Frank Lampard. Reuters

The other high-profile German to arrive as part of Chelsea’s lavish summer, Werner was a goal-machine in the Bundesliga and last season scored 34 times in all competitions for RB Leipzig. The 24-year-old started the season encouragingly with eight goals in his first 12 games but has faded badly, with just one goal in his past 16 appearances.

Werner’s impact under Lampard has been greater than compatriot Havertz and he is affecting games without the goals, but still, his return has been below what most would have expected from a proven goalscorer.

Another player to suffer for his manager's decisions, Werner has been pushed out onto the left wing for much of the season. Like Havertz, Werner needs time before judgement can be passed, but taking only his time at Chelsea so far, it's been a disappointment. Verdict: Miss

Ben Chilwell (€50m)

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 19: Ben Chilwell of Chelsea  during the Premier League match between Leicester City and Chelsea at The King Power Stadium on January 19, 2021 in Leicester, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Ben Chilwell. Getty Images

Left-back was a problem area for Chelsea last season and there was only ever one transfer target to provide the solution. Chilwell arrived for big money after excelling for Leicester City and, after recovering from injury, immediately cemented his place as a key player for the Blues.

Scoring on his league debut no doubt helped him settle into the side and the 24-year-old England international has been one of the bright spots to what is threatening to turn into a bleak season for Chelsea. Verdict: Hit

Hakim Ziyech (40m)

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 24: Hakim Ziyech of Chelsea  during The Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round match between Chelsea and Luton Town at Stamford Bridge on January 24, 2021 in London, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
Hakim Ziyech. Getty Images

Chelsea fans were plenty familiar with Ziyech after he tore their team apart in the memorable 4-4 Champions League draw while playing for Ajax. The Moroccan had to wait to demonstrate his skills after an injury-hit start to the campaign and his first two league starts comprised a goal and three assists.

Since that bright introduction, though, it's been stop-start for Ziyech and he needs a prolonged run of matches to find his feet in the team and in English football. Taken only within the context of the Lampard era, though, it's not been a success so far. Verdict: Miss

Edouard Mendy (€24m) 

Chelsea's French goalkeeper Edouard Mendy plays during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on October 24, 2020. RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications.
 / AFP / POOL / Oli SCARFF / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications.
Edouard Mendy. AFP

If left-back was a problem area last season, the goalkeeper position was a full-blown crisis. Kepa Arrizabalaga, the world’s most expensive stopper, turned out to be a disaster and after the Spaniard’s shaky start to the season, Mendy was recruited from Rennes to fix the issue.

The Senegalese’s start could not have gone much better, keeping five clean sheets in his first six Premier League games. That being said, he was hardly called into action and his form since then has dipped along with most of his teammates.

Mendy is undoubtedly an upgrade on Kepa but is he an elite keeper in the form of Allison Becker or Ederson? The jury is still out on this one, but can he be considered a success under his short time under Lampard? Not too sure. Verdict: Miss

Thiago Silva (free)

Chelsea's Thiago Silva after the English Premier League soccer match between Fulham and Chelsea at Craven Cottage in London, England, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021. (John Walton/Pool via AP)
Thiago Silva. AP

The illustrious Brazilian’s debut could not have gone much worse after his uncharacteristic mistake led directly to a West Brom goal, but he soon brushed that off to become the leader of a Chelsea defence that, for a time, became impenetrable.

He may be 36 but Silva has shown that he can still operate at the top level and his calmness, composure, and positional sense have added more quality to the Blues backline. Silva won't be a long-term solution, but his transfer was a shrewd piece of business for this season at least. Verdict: Hit