The Blues are set to spend big once again but they could be repeating past mistakes if changes don’t take effect.
Chelsea are once again making moves in the transfer market. Having finished 12th in the league there is no surprise but when it is put into context of a £600million spend over 12 months, it does raise questions.
For all the heavy investment in not only players but also managers, backroom staff, physios, groundsmen and directors, the end product has not improved. Turmoil off the pitch has mixed with uncertainty off it to create a toxic atmosphere. The owners are hoping that Mauricio Pochettino can be the cleanser of the mire.
His job, which does not officially start until July 1, is to organise a bloated squad, cut down on the excess waste and drill a young squad into shape in order to compete at the top end of the Premier League once more. In a time of wage bill dominated league tables, Chelsea are the major outlier.
Their performances cannot simply be put down to poor investment but also planning and turnover. That must all change or at least start to show some sort of semblance of adapting this summer, else it could set them back years at a time when their rivals are only strengthening.
Chiefly amongst the immediate to-do list is to not only sell players but also reinforce the squad in key positions. The goalkeeping situaiton is one to look out for but central midfield and striker are the two danger zones. Chelsea are not only planning to lose at least five first team centre midfielders but also still need a reliable source of goals.
Just over one full week into the window and it appears that they have found their duo to fill the initial gaps. Nicolas Jackson has been indentified as a shrewd signing in attack, Moises Caicedo is the big money purchase for midfield.
The pair are just 22 and 21 respectively and have three seasons of full senior football behind them combined at the top level. For a tally that could rise to well in advance of £100million, it is quite the outlay.
Jackson, 22, has a release clause of £29million having only signed a new deal with Villarreal last year. He has moved from within the clubs youth system and spent last season on loan. This year he has 12 goals in La Liga but ended with 10 in 11 games and is a lethal finisher.
As an unknown quantity and not a high profile name he is part of a new market being explored by Chelsea. Much like their decision to snap up Benoit Badiashile for £35million in January, they are being met with minimal resistance or competition when it comes to Jackson and are hoping to develop him.
For £30million, though, the question remains whether there is true value and logic in such a deal. He is a full international with Senegal at 22 but has only made one appearance, coming off the bench at the World Cup for 16 minutes on the opening day defeat to Holland.
According to CIES football observatory Chelsea are overpaying by nearly double his current worth. He is said to have a £17million value currently, £12million less than the Blues are set to splash on him. With Armando Broja posing as a younger forward with similar top level experience, he is extremely comparable to Jackson.
Broja is injured and is hoping to be back with a goal of pushing for a first team return next season but it is already on the cards that he faces newfound competition with a player that is, on the face of it, pretty close to being a match for him. At £29million, the question is whether Chelsea would be wiser saving this money, giving Broja an investment of time and also putting this towards other, more expensive and elite quality options.
The other point to make here is that Jackson was valued at just £850,000 by Transfermarkt in June 2022. As the season went on in Spain and his gametime rocketed, so did his price. As Chelsea look to be more streetwise with their options, giving time to players before they become well-known is perhaps another avenue to explore if they wish to save even more money.
That is what Brighton have become such masters at. Finding overlooked talent across the globe, most notably South America, and planning for their integration into the first team via loans and trust when it comes to giving them matches in the cauldron of domestic pressure.
Caicedo himself is a point in case. After two £70million bids were rejected for him over the winter Chelsea have tried to lure him with an offer of £60million. This is in-keeping with the CIES value of £51million. Brighton, however, wish to get close to £100million for the 21-year-old and drive a hard line on these things.
Chelsea are now likely to sail close to the Seagulls’ demanded price for Caicedo or offer up players of their own to sweeten the deal and reduce the cash price. Given that Caicedo was valued at just £5million when he made his Brighton debut and had been signed for even less from Ecuadorian club Independiente in 2021, it is a monstrous rise in price.
If the quality of player is there and proven in the Premier League then the spike comes quickly and sharply for buyers in the market. Chelsea know this already after signing Marc Cucurella from Brighton for £62million last summer. That was 12 months after he had moved for less than half the price from Getafe.
At 24 he can still turn things around after a torrid first season but it is once more proof of the transfer knife edge that the club is operating on. Should the same happen with Caicedo or Jackson then it would once again represent failure and lack of awareness in the market, and that’s not a good look for a side with such financial backing.