Benoît Badiashile’s signing marks Chelsea’s 14th transfer of the season. The club has spent over 300 million pounds on those 14 players, yet find themselves midtable. New owner Todd Boehly’s reign can only be characterized as hoping money will fix everything.
After Abramovich moved on from the club, Boehly aimed to revamp Chelsea with a blank check for the transfer budget. In trying to keep up with the Joneses of the Prem, the club has thrown fortunes at players who make no sense for their side.
From spending vast sums for players who will likely not see the pitch to giving Brighton a fortune for a mediocre left back, Chelsea has had an odd year. They are refusing to acknowledge deeper issues and hope these new signings will save them. Contrast this to Arsenal who have had an excellent few windows and are now title favorites.
Perhaps Chelsea’s willingness to throw money around with little thought is representative of the inflated value of the Prem. Abramovich forever changed the Prem when he bought Chelsea, as his willingness to throw insane amounts was new. Now the beast he created has left the club in a truly weird situation.
Chelsea built the model that every Prem juggernaut now follows. Pay inflated fees knowing that the TV rights will cover it, but they seem to have been left in the dust.
Despite winning the Champions League in 2021, Chelsea has felt the constant need to reinvent themselves. Bringing in new players to clutter the side while youngsters are sent to die on loan has been the MO.
While the Badiashile transfer is great, it’s hard to see where he will fit in the pecking order. Compounding that with Wesley Fofana’s inability to find consistent runs, the return on investment seems to hard to gauge. Both players are deserving of larger roles but have to back up just as talented defenders in Koulibaly and Silva.
That’s the core issue with Chelsea’s transfer policy, snapping up talented players with no plan on how to play them. It not only hampers the development of those players, but also of academy players trying to find their place.
Conor Gallagher was excellent for Palace last season, giving the Eagles an attacking outlet who forced his way into the English setup. It’s a similar story for Armando Broja, who should have spent another season with the Saints to develop more. However, both players will now spend crucial development years glued to the Chelsea bench.
There’s also the cases of Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner. Excellent goalscorers in their respective leagues who were highly sought after. Only for Chelsea to snap them up just for the sake of it and struggle in London.
Then there’s the case of Marc Cucurella, a decent enough left back who was brought in for over 50 million pounds to replace Ben Chilwell. There is no real difference between the two quality wise, so spending that much is mind boggling.
For a club that was known for uncovering hidden gems, it’s weird to see Chelsea struggle so much with transfers. Unless a coherent strategy is implemented, they’ll be stuck in the middle.
In a league where financial decisions can swing a title race, Chelsea have always been at the forefront. Now that the rest of the league has got up, they’ve lost their edge.
Abramovich’s willingness to throw money around was groundbreaking for the Prem in the early 2000s. But it’s no longer just Chelsea having ownership with the Monopoly man running things.
The Prem’s TV and marketing deals coupled with the league’s popularity has made it a highly attractive investment. Drawing in owners from across the globe with various backgrounds, the league has become a plaything for the uber-rich. It’s now a playground where every kid tries to outshine another with bigger and bigger toys.
It’s just a race to see who can conquer the Prem by being the richest. In a way, it’s just what Abramovich started in 2003. Since then various groups have tried to replicate his success with some successes and other catastrophic failures.
Unlike the current state of Chelsea, Abramovich leaned on Marina Granovskaia for transfer dealings. Her ability to develop an identity helped the club navigate different eras to always remain competitive. Having someone who understands the moment like that is what pretenders from real clubs.
There is some sort of irony in Chelsea falling behind due to the monster Abramovich created. However no matter the money Boehly throws around, the club needs a new identity.
Chelsea will surely figure out their path out of this current mess, they’re just too big of a club. However, their path to this moment is a microcosm of what Abramovich created. It’s a league where every owner can see themselves as the king, but the reality is there will always be someone richer.
Featured image: Reuters