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Chelsea unable to match Manchester United’s £180m investment in Alexis Sánchez

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Chelsea v Arsenal - Carabao Cup Semi-Final: First Leg Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Last week, Antonio Conte was asked about Chelsea’s potential interest in Alexis Sánchez, and while most headlines made out his answer to be a “shot” at the Chelsea Board (perpetuating this continuing myth that managers “talk” to people at their clubs through the media), what he actually was saying is that Chelsea were simply priced out of the sweepstakes for the Arsenal man. And that fits the way this transfer had trended over the past year, with Chelsea made initial favorites before City swooped in only to then to take the “moral” high ground while getting outbid by United.

Granted, the deal is not done yet so perhaps there’s another twist in the tale forthcoming, but I doubt it.

“If Manchester City want Sanchez, they buy Sanchez. They don’t have a problem about money or investment and I think it’s a good investment because we are talking about a top player. You can buy him for a price that is not so high, I’m hearing that the amount is around £20m. If you go to buy Sanchez with a normal price, it’s maybe £80-£90m.

“This is a great chance for the clubs who can invest in him.

“No, no [I’m not putting pressure on the Chelsea Board]. This is just my opinion, because in the past City showed if they want to take a player, they go and buy this player.”

-Antonio Conte; January 12

Another team who have shown this in the past, more times than any other team in England in fact, are Manchester United. But where Conte was truly wrong was the part about “investment”. For Alexis’s transfer fee may be as low as £20m, his real price is about nine times as much.

As per Matt Law’s premium exclusive in the Telegraph, the £180m investment breaks down as such:

  • £27m/year wages (£14m net after taxes) for 4.5 years (~£120m)
  • £30m transfer fee
  • £20m signing bonus
  • £10m agents fees

Even if we just take the wages and the transfer fee into account, Alexis’s amortized cost (which is what counts for FFP) will be above £33m per year. To put that into perspective, Chelsea’s biggest FFP hit is record signing Álvaro Morata at just under £20m. Hazard is around £13m/year and that’s set to go down once he signs his new contract. The £33m hit for Alexis is more than Hazard, Kanté (£12m), and Courtois (£5m) combined and roughly the same as Chelsea’s three main signings last summer (Drinkwater and Bakayoko both around £13m and Zappacosta at £8m).

And that’s before we start considering that United will have the £33m hit not just this season (well half of it this season) and next, but for the next four seasons. Will Alexis be the same player at 33 he is at 29? Doubtful.

Sure, the short-term benefit would’ve been plentiful. The long-term impact however would’ve made this a very tough deal for Chelsea to accomodate.