After 6.5 years, Chelsea have broken the club’s transfer record, finally agreeing a transfer in excess of the £50m paid for Fernando Torres in January 2011 and destroying the jokey narrative of £35m-signings-only. That’s not necessarily surprising in a transfer market gone haywire, where Kyle Walker goes for £50m, Romelu Lukaku for at least £75m, and Alexandre Lacazette for €50m+ — and that’s before we get to the rumors about Alexis or Alex Sandro or Belotti — but Chelsea have seen fit to float the idea that Morata’s transfer may be just a little less outrageous than most.
Matt Law’s Chelsea sources are claiming a £58m “initial fee”, which is essentially matched by the BBC with their claim of a £60m agreement. But those figures are just as disingenous as when Manchester United reported (and thus set the narrative at) a £75m fee for Lukaku (when there’s an additional £15m in easily attainable bonuses and add-ons) or when Liverpool insisted that Mohamed Salah was not a record signing for them (when he was, and after the £7m in add-ons trigger, will have ended up costing the Reds £44m).
Why would clubs do this? Possibly to make themselves look better, or in Chelsea’s case, perhaps to take a jab at Mourinho and Lukaku and all the nonsense that had transpired in recent weeks.
What will Morata end up costing Chelsea in the end? Quite likely something much closer to the £70-75m rumored before. With the £70m also popping up as Chelsea’s max for transfer market spending for any given player, it would not be surprising to see easily attainable bonuses and add-ons on the magnitude of £10m revealed in due time. As far as Morata’s weekly wages are concerned, rumors have generally put him in the £150-170k range, which would fittingly slot him in at Diego Costa’s level.
In any case, this is all just administrative minutiae in the end. Chelsea were rumored to be willing to back Antonio Conte this summer to the tune of £150-200, if not more, and are now coming up against the lower end of that range after the acquisitions of Antonio Rudiger (£30m), Tiemoue Bakayoko (£40m+), and Alvaro Morata (£60m+). That does leave room for one more major signing, but more importantly, proves that all the talk about backing Conte wasn’t just hot air.
So, whether we want to call Morata a bargain or not, the most important part is that Chelsea are showing a commitment many had doubted the Board were capable of.