Announce Havertz! Champions League qualification allows Chelsea to move into overdrive

Announce Havertz! Champions League qualification allows Chelsea to move into overdrive

Chelsea’s recruitment plan has been heavily scrutinised in recent months.

The arrivals of Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner for a combined £75 million ($96m) before the season was out certainly raised eyebrows.

Their interest in spending even more on the likes of Kai Havertz, Ben Chilwell and Jan Oblak had opposition fans looking on in amazement, particularly as the Blues’ hopes of securing Champions League football threatened to slip away.

But after victory over Wolves on Sunday, Frank Lampard can look back on a job well done in securing a top-four finish as well as continuing his upgrade of a young, highly-talented squad at Stamford Bridge.

Havertz seems the closest to following Ziyech and Werner – the latter of whom was at Chelsea’s home ground for the first time here to watch his new team-mates in action – with it understood Chelsea’s qualification for Europe’s elite club competition set to make securing that deal far easier than it would have been had he been joining a Europa League club.

It was a little poetic that it was Mason Mount – the player with whom Havertz will be battling for a starting role – that dragged Chelsea over the line.

Arguably the poster boy for Lampard’s youth project at Chelsea, Mount typifies the type of footballer the Blues boss wants to work due to his desire, energy and ability to provide magic in the final third.

Making the 51st appearance of his debut campaign, the England international curled in a superb free kick seconds into first-half stoppage time to give the home side the lead in a match that Wolves had been edging until then.

He then provided the through-ball for Olivier Giroud to make it 2-0 even deeper into added-on time before the break. Knowing they only required a point to reach their objective, Lampard’s team were then able to coast through the second period.

Those goals will be worth £50m ($64m) to Chelsea’s cause, and it is money Roman Abramovich will not be afraid of spending this summer, regardless of the impact of Covid-19 on the transfer market.

One of the areas that will surely come under scrutiny is in goal, where Lampard chose to leave out the world’s most expensive goalkeeper, Kepa Arrizabalaga, for his side’s most important match of the campaign.

“That’s just a choice,” Lampard said ahead of kick-off after selecting Willy Caballero in his starting line-up. “Kepa has had some difficult times so I am playing Willy.”

It is the second time the Spain international has been left out without being injured this season, and with Valencia showing an interest in signing him, Kepa may have played his final game for the club.

Lampard, meanwhile, is also prioritising a new left-back while there continue to be calls for Chelsea to sign a centre-back to complement what might become one of the world’s best forward lines with Havertz added to Werner, Ziyech and those already at the club such as an in-form Christian Pulisic.

For now, Chelsea and Lampard can bask in having proven the doubters wrong. Not everyone backed the Blues to survive their transfer ban and the loss of Eden Hazard to Real Madrid last summer, but after the vindication of their academy, there will now be a trademark summer of Abramovich spending.

“To be brutally honest, I would say yes,” Lampard said when asked post-match whether it will be easier to make signings this summer. “Not to say exactly where that will go, because that’s not a conversation today off the back of the game straight away.

“We know that the economics of the Champions League are big. We know the prestige – top players want to play in the Champions League.”

Chelsea still have the FA Cup final to come against Arsenal on Saturday before they can truly look ahead to 2020-21, but they can do so knowing they will be playing among the continent’s elite once again.

And with their recruitment drive just getting going, perhaps Chelsea’s next final-day battle will be for the Premier League title, rather than in a dogfight for third or fourth place.

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