The Chelsea morning digest with reaction to Chelsea’s transfer activity, Liverpool team news and an announcement on the captaincy.
Merson criticises Chelsea for letting Willian leave
Former Chelsea number 10 Willian has made a fast start to life at his new club Arsenal, having a hand in all three of the Gunners’ goals in their opening day win at Fulham.
The Brazilian moved to north London on a free, having failed to agree terms on a new deal at Stamford Bridge, and pundit and former Arsenal player Paul Merson has questioned Chelsea’s wisdom in letting him leave.
“I cannot believe Chelsea let Willian go,” Merson told Sky Sports.
“I know they have gone out and get special players, but there is nothing to say they are going to hit the ground running.
“In Willian, you have got someone there who is ready-made. I like whgo they have signed, but they cost a lot of money, and their wages are probably the same as Willian.”
Willian scored nine league goals for the Blues last term, the best single-season return of his seven-year career at the club.
Jurgen Klopp drops hint about new signing’s availability for Chelsea clash
Chelsea and Liverpool meet this weekend in one of the first standout fixtures in the 2020/21 Premier League season, just two months on from the two sides’ eight-goal cracker at Anfield.
The Blues will be able to call upon new arrivals Kai Havertz and Timo Werner at Stamford Bridge, but their opponents may also have a new name to call on.
Thiago completed his move from Bayern Munich to Liverpool on Friday, and Reds boss Jurgen Klopp has dropped a hint about the Champions League winner’s involvement.
“If they watch LFCTV this afternoon, he will train!,” the German said of his latest signing, before adding “You meant the match…we will see. I didn’t make the squad now for Sunday. We will see what we can do.”
The Liverpool Echo confirmed Thiago was registered before the noon deadline required to include players in the weekend’s games, meaning he will be eligible for selection on Sunday.
However, Liverpool’s other summer signing, left-back Kostas Tsimikas, is among the players for whom the Chelsea game will come too early.
Lampard confirms Chelsea captaincy news for this season
One of the notable selections in Chelsea’s Premier League opener was Frank Lampard’s decision to start Reece James at right-back.
The youngster was given the nod ahead of Cesar Azpilicueta, who came off the bench late on, prompting some to speculate about the Spaniard’s future as Chelsea captain.
However, while the former Marseille defender may see a reduction in minutes this term, the armband will still be his for the 2020/21 campaign.
“Yes, absolutely Azpi is club captain this season,” Lampard said.
“He’s done a great job of it. Since I’ve been in the role, he’s been a huge help to me, how he’s handled himself on and off the pitch, how much he feels for the club, how much he communicates within the squad.
We can all see the quality of Reece James and the competition I have in that right back position, but Azpi’s professionalism means he’s going to be as important for us this year as he always is. He is officially club captain.”
Azpilicueta, who joined the Blues in 2012 when Lampard was still part of the playing squad, turned 31 in August.
He has played more than 350 games for the Blues in all competitions, including 49 last season, and took over the captaincy after Gary Cahill’s 2019 departure.