Photo Credit: CFC Twitter
It's that time of the year when the players running the club from behind will play in the boardrooms as well as in places other than the football field to strengthen their club to challenge for various trophies on the line. Yes, it’s the TRANSFER SEASON in the world of football. It's been said that the season for every footballing club starts from the opening day of the transfer market and not from the first gameweek.CHELSEA FOOTBALL CLUB
A football fan belonging to today’s day and age keeps tracking movements in the transfer market by updating himself/herself with the latest transfer news being broken by various journalists working for media outlets. This series focuses on covering probable transfer strategies outlined by top tier Premier League. First article in the series talks about the Champions League Winners – Chelsea Football club’s transfer targets as well as possible departures to galvanize the team to compete with other clubs to safeguard their UCL title and win it again for the third time as well as ending their draught for domestic glory.
The newly crowned European Champions are in a strong position to make a similar impression on the summer market as they did last year by being the highest spenders in the transfer market across the world. Chelsea signed a barrage of players namely Timo Werner from RB Leipzig, Kai Havertz from Bayer Leverkusen, Ben Chilwell from Leicester City, such as Centre Backs Thiago Silva from Paris Saint Germain and Malang Sarr on a free transfer, Hakim Ziyech from Ajax and Eduardo Mendy from Rennes for a net outlay of around £250 Million which bore fruit for the club by clinching the UEFA Champions League title for the second time by beating Manchester City in the finals ending the 9 year wait for the fans to be called European champions. However, the club is still looking to win titles on the domestic front as well. The club will not opt to splurge out loads of cash this summer just like they did last season but would opt to fill the cracks in the squad owing to player’s departures to challenge for the four coveted titles.
The funds available have been boosted by around £70 million by winning the Champions League, with the final sum expected to be above £100 million when their share of the competition’s broadcast pool is taken into account. They will also receive a sizable total in excess of £100 million for their Premier League exploits, having finished fourth. This season would be crucial for Chelsea with the pressure of building upon its dynasty in world football and is expected to make a couple of signings to strengthen the squad under Thomas Tuchel. The German tactician is set to extend his stay at the London based outfit by signing a two year contract extension with the club which will now expire in 2024. Chelsea was in dire need of achieving stability in terms of managerial appointment and this UCL victory under Tuchel made it clear to the fans that Thomas Tuchel is here to stay for a long time.
In the goalkeeping department, the club is likely to move ahead with Senegalese keeper Eduardo Mendy as their number 1 keeper who has been phenomenal this season, especially in the Champions League with having the highest number of clean sheets in a season. Kepa Arrizabalaga, on the other hand, has played a handful of games and could opt to leave the club for more game time. In order to offload him, the club will have to take a massive hit on his valuation as the club broke the transfer record to sign him but unfortunately, his underwhelming performances have led the club to sign Mendy and reduce his status to a bench warmer. The club will entertain offers for selling Kepa with Willy Caballero still in the ranks to operate as 2nd keeper. Chelsea has tested waters to sign Italian shot-stopper Gianluigi Donnarumma on free transfers but the idea was shot down quickly.
Talking about defense, the club has brought in some quality defenders the previous season and they performed well particularly in the second half of the season. However, with players like Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen, Cesar Azipilicuetta and Thiago Silva having just one year remaining in their contract, the club will opt for more recruitments with Inter’s Achraf Hakimi being their primary defensive target.
Chelsea scouted the Moroccan Right back heavily through his time as a youth player at Real Madrid and during a two-year spell on loan at Dortmund, where his reputation was properly established. Hakimi, however, ended up moving to Inter last summer for €40 million and has impressed yet again, scoring seven goals in 37 league appearances, mainly from a right wing-back berth. The 22-year-old is under contract through to 2025 and earning £75,000 a week after tax, but Inter’s well-documented cash-flow issues, exacerbated by the pandemic, saw them miss the first installment of €10 million due to Madrid on the player’s transfer. The usage of Reece James by Thomas Tuchelas, a right-sided centre-back over recent weeks suggests there would be a way of fitting both players into his line-up. Paris Saint-Germain have also expressed an interest in signing him this summer and a fee of around €55 million has been mooted and Arsenal like the player as well. Inter are not in a hurry to sell the players and have placed €80 Million price tag on the player to ward off interests from the competitive clubs. The Hakimi situation also explains why Adama Traore of Wolverhampton Wanderers has been listed as an alternate target as right back, despite his lack of defensive acumen.
Regarding centre backs, Chelsea have identified Bayern Munich’s Niklas Sule along with Jerome Boateng as their primary targets. Wolfsburg centre-back Maxence Lacroix as well as Pau Torres from Villareal and Jules Kounde from Sevilla as alternative targets. However, Torres and Kounde would be an expensive buy for the club as they will have to face competition from Real Madrid for Kounde as well as Manchester United for Torres. FikayoTomori looks certain to depart from the club as AC Milan want to make the centre-back’s loan into a permanent deal and are prepared to trigger the £25 million option that was included in the loan agreement. Kurt Zouma, on the other hand, doesn’t suit Tuchel’s style of play and could bring in a decent fee as he still has two years left on his contract, although this situation depends on what happens with the other centre-backs at the club and/or their ability to purchase one of Tuchel’s choices. Tuchel is ready to hand Marcos Alonso another lifeline by keeping him in the squad for another season and have made it clear to Emerson Palmieri and Danny Drinkwater of unavailability of any place for them in the squad. Greek club PAOK Salonika are trying to negotiate a permanent transfer for left-back Abdul Baba Rahman following a positive loan.
Stay tuned fot part 2