We’ve witnessed a seemingly scattergun, haphazard, and at times even desperate approach to the transfer window from Chelsea so far summer, which, though concerning, can be easily explained and excused by the circumstances surrounding the club’s ownership transition barely two months ago, the restrictions placed on the club by the various powers that be, and all of the knock-on effects arising from those factors insofar as squad-planning and decision-making processes concerned.
While it’s hard to attribute too much purpose, vision, or overarching design to what we’ve seen so far — targeting forwards first and foremost, getting gazumped repeatedly, switching targets randomly, falling back into old habits as far as (some) youth players are concerned, failing to unload many a deadweight, giving the manager the ultimate power, etc. — perhaps a more generous way to describe our approach would be to call it wide and comprehensive. We may lack a narrow focus, but we’re certainly firing for effect.
Entering the summer with a reported £200m budget but without a sporting director to execute the Liverpool-esque, data-driven approach espoused as the model to follow by the new owners, we’ve instead done a select-all and hit the “make enquiry” button. If you’re available and can kick a ball at a high level, chances are you’ve gotten a call. It’s not been pretty necessarily, but it’s been quite exciting at times.
And that approach hasn’t just been wide, it’s been deep as well, targeting veterans, players in their prime, and youngsters alike. It’s this latter facet that’s perhaps the most intriguing and new (at least to us), and one quite far removed from the aforementioned data-driven ideal. By definition, there’s no relevant data for spending £20m (£10+10m) on Carney Chukwuemeka, $15m ($10+5m) on Gabriel Slonina, or however much we will give Arsenal in compensation for Omari Hutchinson. (Though the Slonina pursuit dates back to at least January, and he does have some, and rather impressive, pro-level experience.)
And we may not be done with just that trio of 18-year-olds. Chelsea have reportedly made two bids for 19-year-old Cesare Casadei, the outstanding €20m-rated prospect at Inter Milan, and are one of several clubs involved in the pursuit of 16-year-old (16!) Endrick Felipe at Palmeiras, the next big thing out of Brazil, who has a €60m release clause — and wouldn’t even be legally able to play in Europe for two more years, until he’s 18. Moral gray zone of transfers involving minors aside, this is a page more out of Real Madrid’s recent playbook (see: Vinícius Júnior, €46m at age 16; Rodrygo, €45m at age 17), than anything involving Liverpool or big data.
Clearly, these gambles worked out quite well for Real — in the process also covering any similar gambles that may have not — so it’s probably a good thing that we’re paying attention. It should be noted that this sort of wide approach is also similar to how the LA Dodgers operate, spending big money on not only the best but the most promising as well.
Above all, it shows that the new owners are indeed building something not just for now, but for the future as well ... even if we don’t really know what shape that’s going to take.
We are looking to the future. And what a future we have. https://t.co/5X9JSJFGgN— Daniel Finkelstein (@Dannythefink) August 2, 2022