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3 Aug, 2020 18:43

'We HAVE to improve': TEN players could form Chelsea summer exodus as Frank Lampard admits 'numbers don't lie' in defensive woes

'We HAVE to improve': TEN players could form Chelsea summer exodus as Frank Lampard admits 'numbers don't lie' in defensive woes

Flop record signing Kepa Arrizabalaga, World Cup winner N'Golo Kante and four of the defenders involved in Chelsea's backline woes are among the players reportedly under threat as part of major changes considered by Frank Lampard.

Chelsea's defensive record this season was dire compared to their rivals, conceding at least six more goals than every team in the Premier League top nine in a season when only eight teams let in more than them.

Their 2-1 FA Cup final defeat to Arsenal on Saturday was the latest in a long line of games in which they had squandered a lead, costing them a total of 18 points that could have put them ahead of second-placed Manchester City.

Lampard is now thought to be open to offers for defenders Kurt Zouma, Andreas Christensen, Emerson Palmieri and Marcos Alonso as he attempts to redress the kind of defensive inconsistencies that saw Chelsea concede at least three goals on three occasions last month, including a 5-3 defeat at champions Liverpool.

Kepa cost the world record transfer fee for a goalkeeper when he arrived for $91 million in 2018 but there was little surprise when he was dropped for Saturday's showpiece admit persistent rumors that Lampard is looking to loan the out-of-form Spain stopper out.

The 25-year-old was also dropped for the crucial Premier League finale against Wolves at Stamford Bridge, when Chelsea qualified for the Champions League in the absence of the man who has the worst save percentage of any goalkeeper to have played regularly in the top flight this season.

Lampard wants a new goalkeeper and has long been linked with a move for left-back Ben Chilwell, with Leicester thought to have demanded a world record fee for a defender for the 23-year-old England international.

Chilwell's premium price tag, together with an anticipated agreement for Kai Havertz and the combined total of $104 million spent on Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech, means that Lampard is looking to move around 10 players on.

France star Kante has been linked with a switch to Inter Milan under former Chelsea coach Antonio Conte, while Tiemoue Bakayoko and Ross Barkley are also said to be available while forward Michy Batshuayi has scored one goal in 16 Premier League appearances this season.

"The numbers don’t lie,” Lampard said, having criticized his side's performance after he failed to win the first trophy of his managerial career at Wembley.

"I can’t shelve it in another direction.

"We have to work defensively as a group but some of the individual errors we’re making have cost us goals and they can’t be there if we want to keep moving forward.

‘We’ve had a good season but there are areas to improve and defensively, of course, we have to improve."

Lampard is taking inspiration from Liverpool, who conceded 50 Premier League goals during coach Jurgen Klopp's first season in charge.

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They have won the Premier League at a canter and the Champions League since briefly making Alisson the world's most expensive goalkeeper in 2018, having recruited formidable center-back Virgil van Dijk the previous year.

Lampard has also studied deposed champions Manchester City and the dramatic defensive improvements they have made since conceding more than a goal a game in the Premier League during Pep Guardiola's first season in charge.

"Those teams have been through similar periods when in the early stages of conceding too many,” Lampard said.

“It is a work in progress for me.”

Protected from the harsh financial pressures other clubs are facing thanks to billionaire Russian owner Roman Abramovich, Chelsea appear to be making up for the time lost during a two-window transfer ban that ended in January.

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They beat Liverpool to Werner's signature and are keen on 21-year-old defensive midfielder or center back Declan Rice at West Ham and Atletico Madrid defender Jose Gimenez, according to The Times.

Lampard said long-serving winger Willian had been "brilliant" during his time as manager but was non-committal on the 31-year-old's future after he reportedly turned down a new two-year contract because he wants an extra year on the deal.

In the more immediate future, Chelsea will need to improve their defensive resolve this Saturday to have any realistic chance of reaching the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

They lost 3-0 to Bayern Munich in their round of 16 first leg in February on a night when Alonso became the first of their players to be sent off in the competition for more than eight years.

That was their worst ever home European defeat and heaviest defeat at Stamford Bridge in all competitions in more than two years, leaving them in desperate need of an outstanding performance to turn the tie around.

Their bid for a first clean sheet in five in Europe will not be strengthened by the loss of Cesar Azpilicueta following the hamstring injury that forced the captain to limp out of the cup final.

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