The tall timber Lampard might be looking for

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard has remarked that his side could improve their set-piece attack and defence with the addition of tall players.

He said: “When we came into the club we looked at the stats from last season. Last season we were bottom of the league defending set plays, in terms of teams getting big chances against us, and second bottom in attacking. We haven’t improved much this year.”

Lampard referenced the improvement that Liverpool saw when centre back Virgil van Dijk joined from Southampton.

“There’s a huge relation to personnel and if you don’t have that size, the main thing is trying to compete as hard as you can and making it difficult for other teams to score.”

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Chelsea’s current squad has Olivier Giroud, Tammy Abraham, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Kurt Zouma and Antonio Rüdiger standing at 6’3” or taller. But who are some of the alternatives Lampard can look at bringing in?

Niklas Süle 6’5”

Bayern Munich rarely sell players unless they have something very wrong with them. Süle’s recent ACL injury might tempt Bayern into letting the central defender leave.

After joining Bayern in 2017, Süle played the most minutes of any defender as they went on to win the 2017/18 and 2018/19 Bundesliga titles.

Süle has also made his way into Joachim Löw’s preferred pairing for the German national team, having made 23 appearances since 2017.

 

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His current contract at Bayern runs until 2022, so Chelsea would be looking at a fee of around £45-50 million. Signing a player coming off a bad knee injury is a risk, but it is probably the only time Bayern will look at selling. Still just 24 years old, if he does stay fit Süle will have a large portion of his ahead of him.

Matthias Ginter 6’3”

Another tall German defender, Matthias Ginter plies his trade for Bundesliga club Borussia Mönchengladbach. Ginter played the most minutes of all outfield players for Mönchengladbach this season as they finished fourth, just one point behind RB Leipzig.

At 26, Ginther is in his prime and has had a very clean run of injury. This durability will translate well into the Premier League. With a contract running out in 2021 and an estimated value of £30 million, Ginter seems a more realistic target than Süle. Though at 6’3”, is he as tall as Lampard wants?

Francesco Acerbi 6’4”

The oldest player on this list, 32-year-old Francesco Acerbi brings years of Serie A experience with him. After five seasons at Sassuolo, Acerbi has been at Rome club Lazio since 2018/19. In the current Serie A season, Lazio are second to Juventus and remain a mathematical chance at nabbing the league with five matches left to play.

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The late-blooming Acerbi is playing the best football of his career so far. And while he hasn’t played outside of Italy before, it might not be too late. Look at Tottenham’s Jan Vertonghen, he’s 33.

Tomáš Souček 6’4”

Chelsea’s midfield is short. N’golo Kante, Mason Mount, Jorginho, Matteo Kovačić and Billy Gilmour are all under 6’0”. Czech Republic midfielder Tomáš Souček would bring the height and physicality to the middle that Chelsea haven’t had since Nemanja Matić.

Chelsea know first hand that Souček is dangerous in the set-piece. The 26-year-old scored his first goal for West Ham against Chelsea when he out jumped César Azpilicueta at the back post.

Souček is currently on loan at West Ham from Czech club Slavia Prague, though West Ham do have an option to buy at the end of this season worth £14.6 million. Should West Ham elect against keeping the tall Czech on, Chelsea could do worse than have a look at him.

Denis Zakaria 6’3”

If Souček is out of reach, then Borussia Mönchengladbach’s tall Swiss midfielder is as sound an option. Zakaria is also three years younger than Souček, so he may even be more enticing.

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Like Matthias Ginter, Zakaria played a large part in Mönchengladbach’s fourth-place this Bundesliga season. While he would bring height and physical presence to a defensive set-piece, he doesn’t have the heading prowess Lampard is looking for in attack.

Abdoul Ba 6’8”

This Mauritanian giant plays for Ligue 2 club AJ Auxerre. The highest level he has played at before now was nine Ligue 1 matches for Lens back in 2014/15. But look at the size! 203 centimetres and 100 kilograms. Good luck shifting this defender out of the way.

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