The Atletico Madrid forward is poised to sign on loan with the Blues, with Graham Potter hoping for a spark so far missing from recruitments under Clearlake Capital.
If the new signings since the takeover are yet to fully deliver on the club’s investment, it is not for the lack of investment.
The current total spree is at £305 million, which will grow further with an expected loan fee of around £10 million, although most of that figure has been spent on younger talents able to grow in value. But Raheem Sterling, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Kalidou Koulibaly and Marc Cucurella were signed to contribute immediately.
Here we rank the signings so far in what has been a disappointing campaign for the Blues.
N/A. Andrey Santos - €12.5m/£11.1m from Vasco da Gama
Chelsea will hope Santos makes a similar transition from Brazil to London as Oscar did 11 years ago when he joined for £28.3 million from Internacional. The midfielder could gain some minutes in the second half of the season with his goal threat and box-to-box potential likely to prove attractive, given the opportunities already for Carney Chukwuemeka.
N/A. Benoit Badiashile - €38m/£33.7m from Monaco
The new recruit from Ligue 1, he didn’t debut against Man City so his impact will be judged starting from the derby against Fulham onwards. He’s a reasonable addition in terms of fee against experience, but with Koulibaly yet to impress, there’s a real chance for him to break straight into the line-up, improve the team’s solidity and make a case to be a starting centre-back next season.
N/A. Gabriel Slonina - €9m/£8m from Chicago Fire
Immediately loaned back to Chicago Fire in MLS and has continued his development by being their first-choice goalkeeper. The 18-year-old played every game of the 21/22 campaign bar the final two fixtures, with Fire failing to make the playoffs again.
N/A. Cesare Casadei - €15m/£13.3m from Inter Milan
Already impressing with the youth teams, including a scorching long-range hit against Peterborough in the EFL Trophy, the Italian caught the eye during the World Cup interval too with a promising display in a friendly against Aston Villa.
N/A. Davide Datro Fofana - €12m/£10.6m from Molde
An encouraging signing based on the new recruitment team, 20 years of age and with 22 goals last year in Norway. Fofana, who idolised his compatriot and Chelsea legend Didier Drogba, is quick on the turn and willing to run into space. If he hits, it’s a bonus and exactly the type of player the new regime should target, knowing he could be sold for a similar fee if it does not work out. A loan next summer should tell us more about his trajectory at the top of the European game.
7. Marc Cucurella - €65.3m/£57.5m from Brighton
An exorbitant outlay but just about the going rate for a top of the market full-back, Chelsea hope beating Manchester City to the Spaniard works out better than when Manchester United edged out Pep Guardiola for Fred. So far the signs are not good though, with the former Brighton star struggling in defence. Labelled by Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink as the “weak link”, while Jamie Carragher insists he “can’t defend”, he must also show he can be a difference-maker in the final third to balance the threat posed by Reece James when he is fit.
6. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang - €12m/£10.6m from Barcelona
Signed for Thomas Tuchel, but played only one game for him before he was sacked. Hasn’t really been a go-to for Potter and has yet to score in the league since his first outing. Link play, penalty box presence and ability to stretch defences can all be routinely described as poor at best so far. Not a transfer which is working out well for any concerned.
5. Wesley Fofana - €80.4m/£71.2m from Leicester City
Started the season in the side but injury and suspension have quickly curtailed his impact. Scored against Milan in the Champions League but went off in that fixture in October and hasn’t played since - but is now back in training to boost Potter’s defensive options.
4. Kalidou Koulibaly - €38m/£33.6m from Napoli
The instinct was this would be just about the ideal replacement for Antonio Rudiger and/or Andreas Christensen. Proven at the highest level and with a versatile game, the Senegalese has surprisingly struggled. His vast experience has shone through in some high-profile games, while the likes of Forest’s Taiwo Awoniyi has tied him in knots in others. A loan back to Serie A this summer feels probable already.
3. Raheem Sterling - €56.2m/£49.8m from Manchester City
Hit and miss is probably the best description for a player who has impacted at times - two goals to beat Leicester early in the campaign spring to mind - but has looked on the periphery of the action at others. Frequent changes to his role under Potter haven’t helped perhaps, and nor has the fact he has no consistent presence alongside him in the attack, but there will still be an element of disappointment from fans in what he has provided so far. Just one 90-minute outing in the league since the start of October, too.
2. Carney Chukwuemeka - €18m/£15.9m from Aston Villa
Not a huge amount of game time but has impacted whenever given the chance, which probably makes him a mild success on the balance of expectation vs opportunity. Seems to be edging himself into the manager’s plans on a more regular basis and his versatility as well as his attacking impetus should see that continue amid the team’s mid-season struggles.
1. Denis Zakaria - loan with option to buy at €30m from Juventus
Didn’t start the season anywhere near the team and has had to bide his time for a chance, but his effectiveness in the centre of the park has been wonderfully apparent since Graham Potter has turned to him. Rampaging and tenacious with his midfield ball-winning, good ability to carry the ball and even a Champions League goal to his name, the past month has been an important step back towards his pre-knee injury form for ‘Gladbach.