Chelsea are being “blown out of the water” by rivals in the transfer market, says Frank Lampard, with the Blues in danger of being “left behind”.
The arrival of Roman Abramovich at Stamford Bridge back in 2003 saw the west London outfit become the first Premier League side to benefit from the big-spending of a billionaire owner.
Such figureheads are now commonplace, with transfer fees having escalated as the market is dominated by those with the deepest pockets.
Chelsea still possess the financial muscle to compete, but elaborate recruitment drives have been reined in and Lampard feels the club need to come up with a new strategy as others continue to invest heavily and current boss Antonio Conte grows increasingly frustrated - with Goal revealing on Friday that the Italian's future is now in question .
The Blues legend told The Sun : “[Manchester] City and United have blown everyone else out of the water in terms of their spending in the last two years.
“Chelsea have the power to match them but it’s something they haven’t particularly done in recent years.
“Don’t get me wrong, they’ve spent good money. It’s not as if they’ve suddenly stopped buying players.
“But other clubs are spending more and they have to be careful not to get left behind.
“The manager isn’t happy and he obviously feels his squad is a bit thin to battle on so many different fronts.
“And I think he’s been proved correct to a degree because when you win the title and then lose big players like [Diego] Costa and [Nemanja] Matic, you have to recruit to move forward because everyone else is doing that.
“Antonio Conte certainly seems frustrated. He doesn’t mince his words and he’s been pretty honest about how he feels.
“He wanted to add to the squad and he speaks about how it’s not his business as to who gets signed.
“I don’t know where things are headed long-term but I think the club and manager will need to sit down in the summer to sort things out.”
One of the issues which needs to resolved at Stamford Bridge concerns Eden Hazard’s future, with the Belgium international yet to commit to fresh terms amid ongoing talk of interest from Real Madrid .
Lampard hopes the 27-year-old can be persuaded to stay put, but acknowledges that there is a chance key men could soon start heading for the exits.
He added: “Eden Hazard is the centre-piece of the club and has been the catalyst for their very good performances over the last 18 months.
“Players will move on but hopefully not Hazard. Chelsea have to try to keep him and build the team around him.”