You would have to be an idiot to deny that Chelsea are spending an absurd amount of money on players at the moment. Especially for a January transfer window. And some pundits have labelled the recruitment approach as ‘scattergun’. I really don’t agree with that. From what is being reported, Chelsea had been scouting all of the players they have signed so far for some time. It may have been the plan to make a move for someone like Mykhaylo Mudryk in the summer, but Arsenal’s interest forced them to complete the deal now. And with how global scouting is in the modern age of football, that really isn’t surprising. Because they aren’t done yet. According to reports, the Chelsea hierarchy plan to sign at least two more players, maybe even three. Now, that would mean that some players definitely have to leave this winter, otherwise squad registration rules become impossible to comply with.
There has also been reporting that rather than change the manager, as was the first port of call under the ownership of Roman Abramovich, the new owners are planning to move players on instead. There is talk of a mass clear-out in the summer with several players leaving. And when you bring that into consideration as well, the approach that Chelsea and the recruitment staff have taken is not so wild after all. Because if there is going to be a clear-out in the summer, then many of the players that will replace the outgoing ones are already at the club, have been coached by the current manager and will be ready to take their place in the first team. That doesn’t mean that everything will instantly fall into place. This could still take some time to fine tune and get right. Liverpool went a couple of years under Jurgen Klopp as a fabulously entertaining but flawed side. Their attacking structures were largely there but they lacked the quality in defence to challenge for league titles. They could go far in cup competitions but the same flaws would undo them. And the majority of the Champions League and Premier League winning side was already there. They knew how Klopp wanted to play, they could execute 95% of the plan. But they were missing the final pieces to take them over the top.
There were three players that Liverpool signed to take them to that next level; a quality goalkeeper (Alisson), a quality centre back (Virgil Van Dijk) and a quality midfielder who was versatile enough to play in the defensive line as well. All three were expensive, but changed problem areas within Liverpool’s squad into strengths and led the team to a period of sustained success. Something very similar has happened at Arsenal. Mikel Arteta was brought in at a point when Arsenal really did seem to have lost their way completely. And it took time for Arsenal to get to the point where they lead the Premier League by five points towards the end of January. There was lot of pretty ruthless decisions that Arteta and the club made to get the squad where they wanted it. With Arteta in charge, Arsenal had finished 8th, 8th and 5th. And that all seems to be coming together for them this season. Whether they can sustain it beyond this season is another question entirely, but I think we can see the roots of what Chelsea are looking to do in what was done at Liverpool and Arsenal.
Commentators and fans are making a big deal out of the amount of money being out into signing these players. And yes, a lot is being spent, especially for a January transfer window. But Chelsea clearly feel that they are within their budgets. It must be remembered that Chelsea didn’t sign anyone during the entire 2019/20 season, because of the FIFA transfer embargo. Not to mention that fact that they have generally sold players for profit in the last few years. One of the things Marina Granovskia was best at was maximising transfer fees received for players that the club and manager had deemed surplus. That is what I think the club will look to do in the summer. As I mentioned earlier, there is talk of a significant number of players moving on in the summer. My guess is that the owners will look to redress the balance with the fees agreed for departures from the club.
It has been rather shocking to see how busy Chelsea have been in the January transfer window. But I am convinced that this is not blind panic. This is part of the process of renewing the squad to take the team forward under Graham Potter. This is a one off, not likely to be seen again for a very long time. The players signed are also some Europe’s best young talent. Chelsea are setting themselves up for challenging at the top of the game for a very long time.