With the summer transfer window now slammed shut, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at Chelsea’s performance in the market.
The curtains are usually raised on the summer transfer window amid a lot of fanfare and loads of anticipation. The expectations year after year is that transfer records will be broken and that the cumulative spending would breach barriers unforeseen. This time around, however, things were a little different.
With the entire world ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic, there was a lot of uncertainty over the financial ability of several clubs in the transfer market this time around in the wake of suffering huge losses since the outbreak of the virus. However, one club that had been touted to take the market by storm were Chelsea.
Entering this summer with a glut of funds after being unable to loosen their purse strings in the previous year, the Blues were expected to be the heaviest spenders this year. Chelsea did end up being quite busy after all after beginning their business quite early with the acquisition of Hakim Ziyech.
The west Londoners then followed Ziyech’s signing with the acquisition of Timo Werner and Kai Havertz to completely transform their attack. Then they set about addressing the major problem areas – defence and the goalkeeping department – as Thiago Silva, Ben Chilwell and Edouard Mendy arrived at Stamford Bridge, while Malang Sarr joined and left on loan to Porto.
There was a glut of departures from the club as well, most notable of those being Willian and Pedro, while the likes of Ross Barkley, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Michy Batshuayi are among those who have been hauled off on loan deals. All in all, it was a busy summer for Chelsea and The Hard Tackle now takes a closer look at their performance in the transfer market.
There were plenty of options in this section. After all, Chelsea secured the services of stalwarts like Thiago Silva and Hakim Ziyech while signing long-term prospects in Timo Werner and Kai Havertz. And, it is Havertz who just about edges the others as Chelsea’s marquee signing this summer.
The German prodigy, who was Chelsea’s most expensive acquisition this past summer, is not just a player who has what it takes to have the team built around him for years to come. Havertz is also someone who can make an immediate impact as well, his slow start to life at the west London club notwithstanding.
Possessing superb athleticism and a tremendous work-rate, Havertz has a keen eye for goal while also having the vision to stitch together dangerous passes. While he may not be fully up to speed, the 21-year-old has already shown what he is capable of by scoring his first career hat-trick in just his third outing for Chelsea.
The youngster had a fine tally of 18 goals and 9 assists in 45 appearances last term while at Bayer Leverkusen, suggesting that he can deliver in the here and now. The fact that he tends to improve dramatically as the season wears on bodes well for Chelsea, who would be eager to see more from Havertz in the coming months.
A number of players departed Stamford Bridge in the summer transfer window, but the name that clearly stands out among those is Willian. And, despite being at the club for over half-a-decade, the Brazilian is a player who a lot of Chelsea fans would be glad to see the back of.
Willian did produce a number of notable performance where he made the difference. His work-rate often made him a manager’s delight due to the defensive support he provided. However, for the most part, the veteran winger faltered in his primary duties – to deliver the goods in the final third.
In his seven seasons at Chelsea, Willian never once reached double figures for goals in a Premier League campaign. His best goals plus assists tally of 16 came last term, meaning he bowed out of the club on a high, if you can even call it that.
In contrast, Hakim Ziyech, who is likely to be his long-term replacement managed to reach double figures for either goals or assists in each of his seasons at Ajax. Granted the Eredivisie is not at the same level of the Premier League, but Ziyech has shown that he can cut it with the best in the UEFA Champions League and he ought to be an upgrade on Willian. More on him in the next section.
Value for Money
Chelsea splashed the big bucks on most players this past summer, especially those that will form the core of their attack. On the other hand, Thiago Silva joined on a free transfer while Edouard Mendy cost just a fraction of the transfer fee that was forked out for Kepa Arrizabalaga. However, we are going with Hakim Ziyech in this section.
The 27-year-old is yet to make a mark for Chelsea after being sidelined with an injury in the early stages of the season. However, the Moroccan forward is a player who will boost Chelsea’s creativity immensely in the final third, thereby taking a lot of the burden off of the midfielders.
At the same time, Ziyech is quite prolific from set-pieces and can score a spectacular goal or two from open play as well. All in all, here is a player who is a complete package, who can provide the spark in the final third week in week out.
It is this spark that Chelsea have been sorely missing in the early days of the season and his return ought to bring the best out of Christian Pulisic, Kai Havertz and Timo Werner. So, at €40 million, he has the potential to be a bargain as he provides the best years of his career to Chelsea.
A Player They Should Have Sold
Several choices here. It would have been a prudent move for Chelsea to offload a player like Michy Batshuayi on a permanent transfer. The same goes for Tiemoue Bakayoko, Davide Zappacosta and a few others. However, there are a couple of liabilities remaining within the squad as well, one of them being Marcos Alonso.
Alonso enjoyed a couple of fabulous years at the start of his Chelsea career, when Antonio Conte’s system brought the best out of him. However, with the managers after Conte preferring to make use of a four-man backline, Alonso’s worst qualities have been exposed horribly.
The Spaniard has just not managed to make any sort of impact under the tutelage of Frank Lampard, with his vulnerabilities at the back making him a burden for Chelsea. With the arrival of Ben Chilwell, his role is set to reduce almost entirely, considering Lampard can also call upon Emerson Palmieri.
So, being stuck with Alonso till at least the January transfer window puts Chelsea in a spot of bother, with Inter Milan choosing not to sign him. The Blues would now hope some club manages to swoop him away from Stamford Bridge when the transfer window opens again in a couple of months.
A Youngster They Should Have Sent Out on Loan
Why Tomori ended up staying put at Chelsea is understandable. After all, parting ways with Antonio Rudiger was the favoured option for Frank Lampard. However, with Tomori still at the nascent stage of his senior footballing career, it was important that he kept on playing every single week.
The 22-year-old was heavily linked with a loan move to Rennes, with Everton showing an interest as well. In the end, Tomori ended up staying put at Chelsea, where his prospects do not appear to be all too bright as things stand.
At present, Kurt Zouma appears to be the first-choice option to partner Thiago Silva at the heart of the Chelsea defence, with Andreas Christensen securing more game-time as well. Tomori, thus, seems to be fourth in the pecking order for centre-backs, which could be detrimental to his growth in the coming year or so. Instead, a loan move could have done him a world of good.
Transfer Rating: 9.5/10
It goes without saying that Chelsea have done a fabulous job in the transfer market by bolstering the areas that were in urgent need of reinforcements. The attack has been transformed completely to complement a midfield unit that was already quite solid. Speaking of solid, and the defence appears to be in much better shape.
The arrival of Edouard Mendy is also a step in the right direction for Chelsea, with the Senegalese seeming to be quite an upgrade on the underconfident Kepa Arrizabalaga, for now. So, it was a near perfect transfer window for Chelsea.
The only blot on their copybook is their inability to offload a couple of players who are clearly surplus to requirements. Had Marcos Alonso and Antonio Rudiger been sold, though, this was a perfect 10/10 transfer window for Chelsea. A 9.5 rating is not too bad either.