Transfer Deadline Day has come and gone, and as far as Chelsea were concerned, business was rather subdued. No one came in, and the few who left, all left on temporary deals.
But that should be no slight on the Blues, at least not a significant one. We got most of our business done early, which is something we’ve always hoped for, but have rarely ever gotten. And not only was our business well timed, it was, by all available evidence, well planned and part of an overall strategy of squad building. For years we’ve wanted Chelsea to build a team using the best of the Academy and the best available talent on the market, and that’s what we got — for the most part — this year. (And will hopefully continue getting in the future.)
In addition to a proper plan, we also got a bit of luck. Having saved up funds after two transfer windows of no new players and sales of nearly £200m, we were in a relatively advantageous financial position in the market compared to basically every other team, all of whom were hit to some extent by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chelsea were able to move decisively with our bags of cash — party like it’s 2003-06! — securing the signatures of six new first-team players, all of whom should be expected to be starters.
- HAKIM ZIYECH, 27 (€40m from Ajax) — actually agreed before the pandemic and the lockdown truly hit; expected to play right wing and attacking midfield
- TIMO WERNER, 24 (€50m from RB Leipzig) — paid buyout clause, moving in when Liverpool baulked on doing the same; expected to play center forward and left wing
- BEN CHILWELL, 23 (£50m from Leicester City) — certainly not cheap, but less than what Leicester were originally asking; expected to be the long-term starter at left back
- THIAGO SILVA, 36 ($FREE from PSG) — stopgap solution for this season; position to be addressed properly next summer
- KAI HAVERTZ, 21 (€80m from Bayer Leverkusen) — club record fee for a non-goalkeeper, but still a bit less than what was originally asked despite no real competition for his signature: Chelsea truly taking advantage of the club’s re-found top end financial muscle to sign a player we believe to be a generational talent
- EDOUARD MENDY, 28 (less than €25m from Rennes) — not the most glamorous signing and a name not many knew before August, but one who just might make the biggest impact in terms of solving a major problem from last season.
In addition to those six, Chelsea also snapped up two young and highly rated center backs for free, Xavier Mbuyamba (from Barcelona) and Malang Sarr (from Nice). Neither will play a role in the team this season — Sarr’s loan to FC Porto is expected to be confirmed soon while Mbuyamba is recovering from knee surgery first and foremost — but could certainly play a role in the future.
Alongside the usual intake of youth scholars from the younger age groups, Chelsea also added a handful of young teenage talent from other teams into the Academy ranks, too, including Edwin Andersson, Jimi Tauriainen, Aleksi Heino, Malik Mothersille, and Teddy Sharman-Lowe.
The latter of those became one of 25 loanees currently in the Loan Army as well. That’s a fairly high number, especially after Chelsea making a concerted effort in recent windows to trim that back and meet the incoming FIFA loan regulations, but the coronavirus pandemic put a kink in those plans (both ours and FIFA’s).
And so, the likes of Lucas Piazon (Rio Ave), Danilo Pantic (Cukaricki), Jamal Blackman (Rotherham), Kenedy (Granada), Michy Batshuayi (Crystal Palace), Lewis Baker (Trabzonspor), Davide Zappacosta (Genoa), Ross Barkley (Aston Villa), Matt Miazga (Anderlecht), and Tiemoue Bakayoko (Napoli), have all left or stayed on loan, when ideally, they would’ve left for transfer fees — just like Nathan (to Atletico Mineiro) or Mario Pasalic (to Atalanta) did. Others, like Antonio Rudiger, Marcos Alonso, and Emerson didn’t even get that far and will instead stay with the team in what looks like a rather bloated situation at center back and left back at the moment. So that’s not ideal, but some concession should be made for the current global economic situation.
(There are a couple leagues where the registration window is still open, it should be noted, such as the Championship (for business within England) to October 16, the Netherlands to October 6, and Portugal to October 25.)
That’s not to say that the Loan Army is only for the disused and the unwanted. Youngsters like Marc Guehi (Swansea City), Ethan Ampadu (Sheffield United), Conor Gallagher (West Brom), and not so young Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Fulham) could all reasonably and realistically be a part of the team very soon, if not already, and should be using their loans to win a place at Stamford Bridge rather than to catch the eye of someone in the shop window.
That leaves a dozen or so loanees who are longer shots, but nothing should be ruled out at this point. They include Charlie Brown (Union SG), Jamie Cumming (Stevenage), Trevoh Chalobah (Lorient), Ike Ugbo (Cercle Brugge), Izzy Brown (Sheffield Wednesday), Armando Broja (Vitesse), Teddy Sharman-Lowe (Burton Albion), Tariq Uwakwe (Accrington Stanley), Luke McCormick (Bristol Rovers), Ethan Wady (Dartford), Jon Russell (Accrington Stanley).
Most of those guys will probably not make it at Chelsea. Only so many from the Academy can. This summer, we saw the release or the sale of youngsters Richard Nartey, Jake Askew, Jordan Aina, James Clark, Josh Grant, Nicolas Tie, Jacob Maddox, and Marcel Lavinier.
They were joined by veterans Willian and Pedro, both over 30 and out of contract, who landed at Arsenal and AS Roma, respectively. Willian played a big role last year still and Pedro was always a reliable backup, but if there’s one area of the team that got plenty of attention over the summer, it was the attack.
One area that did not get any attention was midfield, but perhaps that’s on the agenda for next summer, alongside the center of the defense. We supposedly have a long term plan, after all.
So, that’s a bit rambly for a wrap-up, but as usual, it was a very busy summer with tons of loans, movement, and plenty of incomings that made waves across the world of football.
I think we can be very happy with this, and if everything works out as well as planned or hoped, we will look back on the summer of 2020 as a pivotal summer in Chelsea history (and not just because the coronavirus pandemic).
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