On May 8, FIFA upheld the two-window transfer ban on appeal from Chelsea. Shortly thereafter, Chelsea released a statement that the club “will” appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
A little over a week later, the status of that appeal is a bit unclear.
While Chelsea have indeed taken the matter to CAS, the transfer ban remains in effect. Apparently, we have yet to ask to have it frozen! While CAS could themselves decide to freeze the ban while they consider the appeal, according to Matt Law of the Telegraph, Chelsea have not yet applied for that provision.
The thinking, or at least the consideration behind that decision is whether Chelsea would be better off being banned this summer or next (since the ban is for two consecutive windows, including January). No one expects CAS to overturn the ban after all, and even if they reduced it, a decision wouldn’t arrive until later this year.
Law’s report acknowledges that “it would seem obvious” that Chelsea would request a freeze alongside the appeal, that hasn’t happened.
This appears to be a combination of the stated bureaucratic factors above, as well as the “understanding” that Chelsea can in fact turn Mateo Kovačić's loan into a permanent move (wouldn’t require a new registration?) and possibly do the same with Gonzalo Higuaín, though one would hope we wouldn’t be that silly. Meanwhile, Chelsea continue to make positive noises regarding the futures of loanees such as Reece James and Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham, all of whom could play a big role next season. We of course do have Christian Pulisic incoming as well. David Luiz signing a two-year extension could also be seen to support this notion. And while we will likely lose Eden Hazard this summer, the club’s primary targets may not be available in the transfer market, posits Law.
Earlier, Goal’s Nizaar Kinsella also reported that Chelsea would be able to sign Kovačić and Higuain in spite of the transfer embargo. Kinsella also writes that Chelsea could actually “hear back” from CAS before the end of this month regarding the appeal, though it’s unclear exactly what that the scope of that response might be.
Either way, Chelsea will have to take the next step very carefully, considering Eden Hazard already has one foot out of the door, while both Callum Hudson-Odoi and, especially, Ruben Loftus-Cheek may not be fit for a while, let alone the start of next season.
On the one hand, it looks imperative for the club to spend big this summer on necessary replacements and reinforcements.
On the other hand, there may be sense in serving out the ban right now and waiting for the right opportunities and players to become available in order to get the rebuild right.
There’s a lot at stake here, with a Champions League campaign looming alongside the usual challenge of the Premier League and the importance of a top-four finish (let’s not even worry about a title challenge then).