The 2017 summer transfer window is over and closed and Chelsea, despite being rather busy in spurts, largely failed to deliver on the number one priority.
Starting with a squad that had been good enough to win the league twice in three years, Chelsea set out this summer to add quality depth to be able to compete in more than just one major competition, while also continuing the long-rebuild that’s been going on since the first few key members of the ‘Old Guard’ started leaving. And while the latter process can now be declared truly finished, the former remains largely incomplete.
Chelsea’s biggest moves over the summer have made the squad younger, while losing very little if any quality. (Assuming most of the new kids live up to expectations.) That is indeed how re-building is done. But in terms of numbers, we’re just about where we began.
Costa was replaced by Morata.
Matić was replaced by Bakayoko.
Begović was replaced by Caballero.
Zouma was upgraded by Rüdiger.
Chalobah was upgraded by Drinkwater.
Musonda Jr is the new RLC; Christensen is the new Aké.
Departures of veteran leaders like Terry, Ivanović, and Mikel have left enticing opportunities for others to step up and form the ‘New Guard’.
Deadline day right wing-back signing Davide Zappacosta is perhaps the one true depth signing, one for whom we don’t have an equivalent from last season. Would’ve been nice to acquire similar help at left wing-back as well.
Having completed three major signings in the first month and a half, Chelsea promised three-four more signings the rest of the way. We got two at the very last minute. The same promise was made to Conte, who had been harping on the issue as well while acknowledging that the club was working hard.
We don’t know Conte’s assessment may be of the window and deadline day, but reviews from the masses have been mixed, at best. No matter, Chelsea are now adamant that they’ve done the job they set out to do. Matt Law of the Telegraph, as usual, is the channel for the club’s perspective on things.
The lede sets the scene.
Chelsea believe they have equipped Antonio Conte with a squad capable of combining a Premier League title defence with the Champions League, despite missing out on a string of summer targets.
The ‘MISSION ACCOMPLISHED’ banner has been unfurled and the challenge made clear to Antonio Conte.
Even if we ignore the bits that lay the blame at Conte’s door, this briefing is strangely negative and combative from the side of the table that failed to deliver on public promises.
Perhaps I’m reading too much into it, but this story, more than any of the transfer market shenanigans from the three months prior, have ensured that the window closed on a sour note.
Last year, stories following the transfer window were of spending sprees and Conte getting a full backing for a proper squad rebuild. Now the story is that “the Blues are philosophical about their summer transfer business, while recognising it could have been better, and believe Conte has a squad to be competitive domestically and in Europe”.
Good luck, Antonio! You’re gonna need it.