Frank Lampard thinks Chelsea have come out second best to their rivals Manchester United and Tottenham after failing to do any transfer business in the January window.
The Blues went into their winter negotiating period intent on adding a striker but they couldn't complete any deals after talks with Paris Saint-Germain over Edinson Cavani and Napoli for Dries Mertens both went nowhere.
Olivier Giroud remains at the club despite having offers to leave and wanting to depart because Chelsea couldn't sign a replacement.
The situation is harder to take for the Chelsea manager, who has seen Ole Gunnar Solskjaer add one big signing at Old Trafford in the form of Bruno Fernades.
After delivering one of his shortest press conferences of the season to the Premier League broadcasters ahead of his side's trip to Leicester City, Lampard ultimately opened up on where his club stand after the transfer window shuts on Friday night.
"Every time I look at the television another player signs for a club, that’s the transfer window," Lampard told reporters at Cobham Training Centre.
"But if I’m looking at it with my business head on and looking around us in the table and I look at Manchester United obviously signing a big, big player, a world-class player, in my opinion. The teams around us, Sheffield United making fantastic signings, Chris Wilder’s job is incredible because he’s had years to work that group and now they’re adding where he sees fit.
"Tottenham have signed a few and they’re not far behind us. And not only have they signed a few, but a couple of players have left were obviously – not being too crude about it – the situation was they were towards the end of their contracts and maybe weren’t happy being at the club any more.
"Sometimes that’s as important as bringing players in. It’s changing the feeling of the group if players are not wanting to be there so that’s obviously smart business on that part.
"Now what remains to be seen will be seen and from my view – and this is not to talk down ourselves because we’re six points clear in fourth – now we become probably the underdogs and the outsiders to some point because the teams around us have strengthened. It’s a fact."
“Everyone is in a different situation individually. Everyone has to push and be on edge. It can’t be nicey nicey now for us until the end of the season. In every training session and in every game we play, we have to be absolutely on top of ourselves if we want that fourth place.
"I have to be the first person who remains positive, no matter what, and I have to be truthful when I speak out loud. Chelsea fans are sitting listening and I respect them for that and they want the best. We know that recruitment is huge for a team that wants to be successful.
"Look no further than Liverpool and Manchester City in recent years. But it’s a fact. People will get bored if I keep crying about that fact. I have to work. The players have to work. I think at the start of the season a lot of fans, a lot of pundits from the outside, nobody had us in their top four. Nobody.
"I think people were saying ‘maybe if you’re in the top eight we understand, top 10 maybe we understand’. Obviously not fighting relegation but we understand.
"I think now probably because there was a period where we were ahead of the curve expectations were ‘ooh we’re hanging on in fourth that’s not good, that result’s not good’ because expectations change. I get that.
"Expectations change. But the reality is that now that we’re in fourth but it’s going to be a real big fight. And we have to be up for that challenge. Young, middle, more experienced players. But the first person that’s up for that is me."
Chelsea's frustrations in the transfer window are further compounded by losing their recent debutant from the academy Tariq Lamptey. He joins Brighton in a £3m deal after having just five months left on his contract and Lampard said the 19-year-old made a choice to push for his exit.
"It’s Tariq’s choice," he concluded. "Because of his contract situation, it’s his choice if he moves on because he’s out of contract in the summer. It’s something we can’t really control, I suppose."