Lampard had made little secret of the fact he wanted to strengthen up front and lighten the burden on Tammy Abraham, the home-grown striker who had enjoyed such an impressive start to the campaign.
Soon, however, came confirmation that winger Hakim Ziyech would be on his way to Stamford Bridge from Ajax at the end of the season and, on Thursday night, they were close to clinching a deal for Timo Werner
Chelsea did not always operate with such patience but they have learned to hold their nerve in the transfer market and if they can complete this swoop for Werner it will be another sizeable coup.
The 24-year-old German is one of the prized assets in European football. In four years at Leipzig he has 75 goals in 122 Bundesliga appearances and this season his form has fired his club to the last eight of the Champions League for the first time. ‘Timo Werner is on fire,’ warned Steffen Freund as his former club Spurs prepared to face Leipzig in the last-16.
Freund, now a pundit on German TV, was right. Spurs were swept aside and Werner scored the penalty which won the first leg in London. They coasted through the second leg in Leipzig.
Freund puts this fine campaign down to Werner’s positional switch. ‘He’s playing a different role,’ he said. ‘Not as a central striker but more as a winger, playing wide and coming inside.
‘That’s when he is unstoppable. He’s so quick in the box, he’s a striker again, in the area where he scores goals. His movement is dangerous. You can’t touch him. He comes from outside to inside, suddenly he’s in the box and he’s an outstanding finisher.’
Werner was Leipzig’s record signing when he joined them for £9million at the age of 20 from relegated Stuttgart in 2016. He made an instant impact. A blaze of goals earned him international call up and a debut against England in March 2017, in Dortmund.
However, he was booed by Germany fans against San Marino a couple of months later. The jeers were thought to be because he had dived to win Leipzig a penalty against Schalke, although Werner claimed it was because his club, newly rich and rattling the established elite, were so unpopular.