The £600m Gamble? What Is Happening At Chelsea Football Club?

By Ian John
February 21, 2023

It has been a somewhat traumatic 12 months in the history of Chelsea football club.

New owner Todd Boehly took over the club after it was put up for sale by former owner Roman Abramovich due to his ties with the Putin regime in Russia, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine last February.

With Abramovich as their owner the club faced not just a transfer ban, but they were unable to offer new contracts to players, sell tickets to home or away games until their new owner was sorted or sign players themselves.

When Abramovich’s position became untenable, the club was put up for sale with Mr Boehly’s bid being accepted but by then Chelsea’s title hopes were over and despite reaching two cup finals, they found themselves on the losing side of both, on penalties to Liverpool.

With the club now able to sell tickets once again and the contract and transfer embargo lifted, Boehly oversaw some of the biggest spending in the Premier League over the last eight months.

But despite over £600m being spent on players, Chelsea languish in mid-table and last weekend, were beaten at home by the bottom club Southampton.

So what has gone wrong? What has turned one of the pre-season favourites to win the Premier League with bet365 Sport, into a mid-table struggler, despite huge investment?

Chelsea’s Transfers And Other Transactions 2022/23

Managers  

https://twitter.com/Hannahbxb/status/1624416783581978629

Thomas Tuchel – sacked on 7th September 2022

Graham Potter – appointed Chelsea manager on 8th September (formerly at Brighton)

One of Todd Boehly’s big decisions was sacking German manager Thomas Tuchel early in September after a slow start to the Premier League season was followed by a 1-0 defeat to Osijek in the Group Stages of the Champions.

Tuchel’s dismissal seemed a little hasty, especially given that the German had led the team to the Champions League the season before last, as well as securing Champions League football once again the following season.

However, his incumbent Graham Potter had earned lavish praise for how well he had coached Brighton into a top-half team on a very limited budget compared to some other top Premier League sides.

And at the time, his appointment was seen as a very good one, although the team has won just three of 13 games since he took charge.

Playing Staff

Players Out

  • Timo Werner – to RB Leipzig for £20m
  • Emerson – to West Ham for £15.4m
  • Jorginho – to Arsenal – £11.3m
  • Billy Gilmour – to Brighton – £8.33m
  • Romelu Lukaku – to Inter Milan (Loan)
  • Michy Batshuayi – to Fenerbahce – £3.5m
  • Malang Sarr – to AS Monaco – Loan
  • Kenedy – to Real Valladolid – £500,000
  • Andreas Christensen – to Barcelona – Free
  • Matt Miazga – to Cincinnati – Free
  • Antonio Rudiger – to Real Madrid – Free
  • Marcos Alonso – to Barcelona – Free
  • Callum Hudson-Odoi – to Bayer Leverkusen – Loan
  • Ross Barkley – to Nice – Free Transfer
  • Danny Drinkwater – Free Transfer
  • Gabriel Slonina – to Chicago – Loan
  • Abdul-Rahman Baba – to Reading – Loan
  • Malo Gusto – to Lyon – Immediate Loan back to selling club for rest of season.
  • Jake Clarke-Salter – to QPR – Free Transfer
  • Ethan Ampadu – to Spezia – Loan

21 players sold/loaned out – £63.7m raised in fees.  

Players In

  • Enzo Fernandez – from Benfica – £105m
  • Wesley Fofana – from Leicester City – £70m
  • Mykhailo Mudryk – from Shakhtar Donetsk – £70m
  • Marc Cucurella – from Brighton – £60m
  • Raheem Sterling – from Manchester City – £50m
  • Benoit Badiashile – from AS Monaco – £35m
  • Kalidou Koulibaly – from Napoli – £35m
  • Noni Madueke – from PSV Eindhoven – £32m
  • Malo Gusto – from Lyon – £28m
  • Carney Chukwuemeka – from Aston Villa – £16m
  • Andrey Santos – from Vasco de Gama – £11m
  • David Datro Fofana – from Molde – £10.5m
  • Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – from Barcelona – £10m
  • Joao Felix – from Atletico Madrid – Loan (fee £10m)
  • Gabriel Slonina – from Chicago – £7.5m
  • Denis Zakaria – from Juventus – Loan (fee £2.5m)

16 players signed – Around £600m spent in transfer fees.

Players Remaining At Chelsea Since 2021/22 Season

Goalkeepers – Eduoard Mendy, Kepa Arrizabalaga, Marcus Bettinelli

Defenders – Trevor Chalobah, Thiago Silva, Ben Chilwell, Lewis Hall, Reece James, Cesar Azpilicueta

Midfielders – N’Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic, Conor Gallagher, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Mason Mount, Kai Havertz, Hakim Ziyech

Forwards – Christian Pulisic, Armando Broja.

Players in italics were Chelsea players in 2021/22 but spent the season on loan at another club.

What Has Gone Wrong?

Given the significant investment in a number of top quality players at the squad, even with the players that left the club in the past 12 months, there is no doubt that Chelsea should be much higher in the Premier League than mid table.

So, what has gone wrong at Stamford Bridge?

Let’s take a look at a number of the key issues:

  1. The Managerial Situation

After making the somewhat surprising decision to sack Thomas Tuchel, Boehly then gave Graham Potter a five-year contract to turn the fortunes of the club around. Barely a few months after that, it is not too surprising that the new owner wants to give his new man time.

However, after 3 wins in 13 games, Chelsea fans are already growing restless and there is a growing campaign from fans to see Potter ousted as manager as soon as possible, despite Boehly publicly giving him his backing.

That split between supporters and owners is one to be wary of as if there is a disconnect there then the club could be in real trouble.

Potter proved at Brighton he can get teams playing great football and he hasn’t had a full season to work with what is essentially a hastily rebuilt Chelsea team with 16 or so brand new first team players.

The ex-Brighton man deserves the chance to work on this project longer than a couple of months, but with a number of fans agitating for his dismissal, will he get the chance to?

  • The New Signings

In his haste to improve Chelsea, Todd Boehly may have made a fundamental mistake in that it is very difficult to integrate one or two new signings into a team during the mid-season transfer window.

So having to do that for 8-10 players is incredibly difficult.

That is why teams tend to try and do their business in the weeks following the season, so that when the players return for pre-season training, the clubs have weeks to work with their new players before the season gets underway.

In January, clubs don’t have that luxury and while some January transfer deals can be big hits, some can also turn out to be initially at least, somewhat poor decisions with players struggling to make an impact.

That may well be the case of what is happening here at Stamford Bridge.

  • Confidence

Winning games breeds confidence and it is evident from performances at the moment that Chelsea are significantly lacking in this area.

Part of that is that the manager does not yet know his best team. Fans may blame Potter for that, but with so many new signings coming in during January, is that fair given he has to assess all of these new signings and integrate them into the team, especially a team very low on confidence.

A couple of wins in a row could turn their season around, but once again, the question is whether Potter will be given the time to try and turn his side’s fortunes around.

It is going to be an intriguing next few weeks at Chelsea.

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