Gary Neville thinks Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich will expect Frank Lampard’s team to be far closer to Liverpool and Manchester City come the end of this season following his huge transfer spend, which is set to nudge closer to £250million. The Blues are closing in on their seventh signing of the summer in Edouard Mendy.
Sky Sports claim Rennes goalkeeper Mendy, 28, was at Stamford Bridge yesterday and completed a medical to move to Chelsea.
The Premier League side will pay an initial £18million, which could rise to £23m if add-ons are met, for the Senegalese shot-stopper.
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He will follow in the footsteps of Hakim Ziyech, Timo Werner, Ben Chilwell, Malang Sarr, Thiago Silva and Kai Havertz in joining Chelsea this summer.
If reports are to be believed, Lampard could also look to land West Ham’s Declan Rice before the summer window closes on October 5, though he could cost as much as £70m.
Abramovich’s outlay is the biggest he has ever sanctioned in a single window since taking control of the club back in 2004.
And after Chelsea finished 33 points behind champions Liverpool and 15 adrift of City last term, Sky Sports pundit and ex-Manchester United defender Neville thinks the Russian oligarch will expect that gap to be far smaller come the end of the 2020-21 campaign.
They made a good start on Monday night by beating Brighton 3-1 at the Amex Stadium with both Werner and Havertz making their debuts.
Neville told Monday Night Football: “You always felt there was a feeling from Roman Abramovich, even though we’ve never heard him speak about it, that he wanted football with flair.
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“He wanted a different type of approach but he wouldn’t compromise that in his search for trophies, so he always went back to a more methodical approach, more mature approach, experienced teams.
“What he seems to have done now is brought into a longer process. He had fantastic academy players, academy teams for years. He’s now giving Frank Lampard the responsibility to use them.
“He’s obviously now investing in young players. I think what he would want to see is progression towards that top two.”
Should Mendy join Chelsea he will give Lampard another selection headache to ponder over each week, with Kepa Arrizabalaga having started their opening Premier League match at Brighton last night.
Asked if Chelsea can compete for the title this season, Neville’s colleague Jamie Carragher insisted that Mendy must usurp Arrizabalaga as No 1.
He said: “Not for me, no. Because the spending has been at the top end of the pitch and until Chelsea rectify their goalkeeping situation I don’t see them winning the league.
“You only have to look at Pep Guardiola’s first season in England, Jurgen Klopp’s first 18 months, until they signed goalkeepers and they made the real difference.
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“If Chelsea signed a top goalkeeper, I think that will make a big difference.
“And also to be fair to Chelsea and Frank I think the expenditure of this transfer window is almost three or four transfer windows of money getting spent in one go.
“They couldn’t buy anyone last year, they’ve still got the [Eden] Hazard and the [Alvaro] Morata money, so it is club money in some ways.
“Until they change the goalkeeper I don’t think they’ve got any chance.”
Neville added: “There’s an element of the unknown with Chelsea. I think that’s a massive opportunity, it will excite Frank Lampard but it’ll also scare him a little bit.
“How’s Timo Werner going to settle in? How’s Havertz going to settle in, Ziyech going to settle in?
“Thiago Silva – different end of the spectrum in terms of experience but how’s he going to adapt to English football.
“There’s a lot of unknowns about the Chelsea squad I think Lampard will be excited by but also a little concerned by.”
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