Chelsea’s summer signings are yet to really get going, and join a long list of transfers made by the Blues in the last four years ranging from disappointments to utter flops…
A week before Graham Potter replaced Thomas Tuchel as Chelsea boss, the club landed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to cap a summer transfer window in which they spent £250m.
While it’s too early to suggest any of those summer signings were missteps, it’s also fair to say that none of those new players can be counted as bona fide transfer hits in their short time with the club. But then, very few, if any, players signed by Chelsea in the last four years could be heralded as such.
Thiago Silva is the one definitive exception, and the irony of that given he didn’t cost Chelsea a penny won’t be lost on the fans, who have seen their club spend over £600m on players in the last four years and are still waiting for those that remain to come good.
August 2018, when Mateo Kovacic joined the club, at the end of a window in which they also bought Jorginho from Napoli, is the point at which this run of transfer shrugs started.
There’s no suggestion here that the signings since have all flopped, just that none of them have been undoubted successes.
Bruno Fernandes, Diogo Jota, Luis Diaz, Rodri, Joao Cancelo, Erling Haaland, Ruben Diaz, William Saliba, Martin Odegaard and Cristian Romero have all joined fellow Big Six clubs in that time, leaving Chelsea to chase Premier League title shadows in their perpetual state of flux on and off the pitch.
The majority of Chelsea’s signings sit in a middle ground between hit and flop, with inconsistency the blight of the vast majority, and tellingly, what tends to separate very good players from the greats.
Kai Havertz will forever be remembered fondly by Chelsea fans for his winning goal in the Champions League final against Manchester City, but is often a cause for frustration with so many of his displays belying his talent.
Edouard Mendy was another hero of that Champions League run but has shown his vulnerability over the last year, to the point where a former laughing stock has taken his spot. Ben Chilwell thrived initially under Tuchel before his form dipped, though his horrific injury record has a lot do with his failure to maintain his peak.
Other than them, really, it’s a cast of duds, joined by the newest signings, all of whom have performed in fits and starts, as has become the norm for those who have joined since Kovacic.
Chelsea’s transfer record the year before wasn’t great, with Antonio Rudiger’s arrival dampening the blow of Alvaro Morato, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Danny Drinkwater. But the three years before saw Diego Costa, Cesc Fabregas, Pedro, Kante, David Luiz and Marcos Alonso all arrive in a particularly successful period for the club in the transfer market, and therefore on the pitch, that Todd Boehly et al. will be hoping to emulate.
Eyebrows were raised over the signing of Aubameyang, given his age, the attitude issues apparent from his end at Arsenal, and given he was clearly a signing pushed for by Tuchel, who was sacked days later.
But few of the other signings made in this fallow period were seen as blunders. It was quite the opposite in most cases, with Marina Granovskaia, Chelsea’s former transfer chief, named the Best Club Director in European football in 2021 after she secured deals for Havertz, Chilwell, Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner the summer before.
There’s never one person at fault for a club’s failings – the owners, the board of directors, the manager, the coaching staff, the players and their representatives are all culpable to some degree, some of the time. But there was too great a separation between those making decisions on and off the pitch in Roman Abramovich’s time at the club, and the most recent window saw Boehly muddle through without a transfer team in place.
Christopher Vivell has been brought in to oversee Chelsea’s data and scouting operations, while the owners are still seeking a new sporting director. And those people will be key to bridge the gap between Potter and the owners. Because Chelsea need to sign transfer hits, and break what is fast becoming a habit of buying players who fall short of their expectations.
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