Frank Lampard might be facing a transfer ban in his first season as Chelsea manager, yet in some ways, he’s spoilt for choice.
The Blues have spent close to £750 million on signings since Lampard left the club in 2014, and despite yielding five honours including two Premier League titles, stability hasn’t complimented their success.
With no such activity allowed for this summer or January, the 41-year-old has promised to give youth a chance in what represents a significant philosophical change at Stamford Bridge.
Last season, Chelsea loaned out no less than 41 players around the world - some of whom enjoyed a level of success Lampard will find difficult to ignore.
Here, we look at the ten of those returning players who are best placed to capitalise on the cleanest slate the club has seen in the Roman Abramovich era.
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Tomori spent last season playing under Frank Lampard at Derby and racked up more appearances than other Chelsea loanee.
The 21-year-old centre-back started 54 matches en route to being named the Rams’ Player of the Year.
Tomori - who’s also featured 15 times for England Under 21s - stands a more than decent chance of unseating the go-to partnership of David Luiz and Antonio Rudiger.
A teammate of Tomori’s at Derby, Mount enjoyed an almost equally as impressive 2018-19 campaign.
He contributed five goals and one assist in his first two months at Pride Park to earn himself a call-up to Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the Nations League matches against Croatia and Spain.
The 20-year-old wasn’t quite so prolific between October and March - partially due to injuries, in truth - but he surely deserves an opportunity off the back of an 11-goal season from midfield.
James’ first loan spell away from Chelsea probably couldn’t have gone any better.
The 19-year-old was a rock at right-back for Wigan over the course of 46 outings during which he set up three goals and scored three of his own.
After being named the Latics’ Player of the Year, Players’ Player of the Year and a Championship Team of the Season defender, James has left Lampard with no reason to overlook him.
Bakayoko didn’t satisfy the vast majority of Chelsea fans in his debut season at Stamford Bridge, but he looks worth another go based on his successful loan spell at AC Milan last term.
The Frenchman made 37 starts across 42 appearances and was dribbled past less than any of the top ten Serie A midfielders with the most completed tackles.
Bakayoko could be a very useful option for Lampard - even if it’s in a less marauding role than the one in which he thrived in at Monaco.
MAP OF CHELSEA'S 41 LOANEES FOR 2018-19 SEASON
It’s high time Abraham got his chance in the Chelsea first team after three loan spells and years of outcry from supporters.
The 21-year-old was the top scorer among the Blues’ loanees of last season by some 15 goals; his 26 strikes in 40 games for Aston Villa sealed him a place in the Championship Team of the Year.
Abraham also proved himself capable of delivering when it matters, such as his first-leg goal against West Bromwich Albion to help Dean Smith’s men return to the Premier League via the play-offs.
Batshuayi made what he could of a turbulent 2018-19 campaign in which he spent the first half at Valencia and the other with Crystal Palace.
The Belgian turned in just three goals across 26 appearances at the Mestalla, but his premature return to England sparked the emergence of a potentially reliable striker.
Under Roy Hodgson, Batshuayi averaged a goal almost every other game and ended the season on six goals with five in the Premier League and one in the FA Cup.
Alongside Tomori and James, Pantic was the only other Chelsea loanee to feature in 45 or more matches last season.
For the second consecutive year, the Serbian was a star turn at Partizan Belgrade, where he produced a career-best output of eight goals - including one in the Europa League - as they clinched the domestic cup.
The 22-year-old has established himself as a leading midfielder in the top-flight of his home country, so giving him a chance to mix with the Chelsea first team wouldn’t be at all unjustified.
It’s little wonder Everton are reportedly keen to make Zouma a permanent signing following his superb performances for the Toffees last term.
The France international formed a solid centre-back partnership with Michael Keane throughout 29 Premier League starts, and he even helped out at the attacking end with a couple of goals.
Zouma - who, let’s not forget, was a Chelsea regular under Jose Mourinho - is fully deserving of Lampard’s consideration.
Considering Chalobah was forced to operate out of position for much of his loan at Ipswich Town last season, his consistent performances are worthy of praise.
A natural centre-back, the 20-year-old was predominantly used in defensive midfield for the Tractor Boys, who suffered relegation at the end of a forgettable campaign.
But Chalobah undoubtedly benefited from the 44 Championship appearances in which he showed promising versatility, composure on the ball and a knack for reading the play.
Clarke-Salter has done his time in the Chelsea loan army after three stints away at Bristol Rovers, Sunderland and Vitesse Arnhem last season.
The England Under 21 captain made his strongest claim yet for first-team minutes at his parent club during a remarkable campaign in the Netherlands.
With 34 starts to his name, Clarke-Salter was a crucial player for the Blues’ Dutch affiliate club - who secured fifth place in Eredivisie along with their best points tally (53) since 2015.
PLAYER STATS FOR 2018-19 SEASON
Although Chelsea fans won’t be welcoming any new signings until the summer of 2020, there’s cause for optimism around SW6.
There’s no denying Lampard lacks managerial experience, which will come with time, but he makes up for it as a source of inspiration for talented youngsters at the club.
Regardless of their youth-first strategy being born of necessity rather than innovation, Chelsea’s controversial loan system stands to bear fruit when they need it most.News Now - Sport News