Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Chelsea Could’ve Signed Champions League Winner For Free In January: Will Lampard Regret Not Bringing Him In?

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Nikhil Vinodh
Nikhil has been an avid Chelsea fan for as long as the concept of time has existed and rumours say that he even bleeds blue. Having lived in the UK for 3 years, Nikhil is said to have an excellent understanding of the atmosphere surrounding the English game. His role model is the greatest manager of all time - Jose Mourinho.

According to a recent report by Italian source Calcio Mercato, Premier League giants Chelsea were offered the opportunity to acquire the services of Croatian striker Mario Mandzukic from Juventus in January. The report suggests that the forward would’ve been available to the Blues on a free transfer, but that Frank Lampard’s desire to build his entire team around youth ended up being a stumbling block. With the forward seemingly set to depart Al Duhail again this summer, he would be available to sign.

While the report has clarified that Chelsea could’ve signed Mario Mandzukic from Juventus last winter, it makes quite a bit of sense that they passed up on the move. Although the forward is likely to be on the move again this summer, the number of suitors have significantly dropped. Turkish giants Fenerbahce and Galatasaray are the only two clubs who are currently interested in the big forward, while there is also some reported interest from the Serie A, although nothing concrete has taken shape so far.

What Is Chelsea’s Current Strike Situation?

The Blues started the current league campaign with three distinctly skilled strikers to choose from, but Frank Lampard was soon forced to face the harsh realities of Premier League football. Tammy Abraham was initially handed the role of first-choice, and much to the surprise of everyone involved, the Englishman seemed to make this position his own in the opening weeks. A decent goal return added to the fact that the Blues have historically struggled with the centre-forward role, meant that a lot of expectations were placed onto the young striker’s shoulders.

By the Christmas period though, the pressure had become a bit much for Abraham to deal with, and somewhat ironically, he ended up with an injured back. This absence is what forced Lampard into giving Michy Batshuayi and Olivier Giroud chances in the first-team.

Chelsea Could’ve Signed Mario Mandzukic From Juventus - Mandzukic carries the ball
Al-Duhail’s Croatian forward Mario Mandzukic jumps over al-Sadd’s Algerian defender Boualem Ahmad Khoukhi as they vie for the ball during the Qatar Cup final match between Al-Sadd and Al-Duhail at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium on January 17, 2020. – Al-Sadd won the match 4-0. (Photo by KARIM JAAFAR/AFP via Getty Images)

While the Belgian showed next to no positive signs, the World Cup winner stepped up to the plate when the team needed him the most. If it wasn’t for Giroud’s timely intervention in Abraham’s absence, you can bet your bottom dollar that the Blues wouldn’t be coming back into the season with their top-four spot still intact.

What Would Mario Mandzukic Add To This Chelsea Team?

The 34-year-old Croatian international had been around the top level of the European game for a long time, before eventually making the switch to Middle Eastern club Al Duhail in the winter. Having formerly played for sides as big as Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid, there’s no need to even question the forward’s experience and offensive prowess. The attacker is also a good finisher in and around the final third, while he tends to offer a strong physical presence on either end of the pitch as well.

Chelsea Could’ve Signed Mario Mandzukic From Juventus: Will Lampard Regret Not Getting Him?

With the form that Tammy Abraham had been displaying before his injury, added to Olivier Giroud’s utility, leaves Chelsea with a fairly balanced roster of strikers to choose from. With the Express reporting that the Blues are likely to sign German attacker Timo Werner from Leipzig this summer as well, the need for more centre-forwards would get eradicated entirely. In any case, a 34-year-old striker wouldn’t get anywhere near the first eleven at Stamford Bridge next season, especially given the strides that Frank Lampard’s team have been making in the transfer window over recent weeks.

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