The Hard Tackle analyses Chelsea’s transfer business and gives its verdict of the European champions’ performance in the summer transfer window.
The summer transfer window that has gone by was perhaps the craziest ever since it was ruled that players can only be traded within certain windows. After all, very few would have fathomed even one of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo leaving their clubs for fresh challenges in their careers, let alone both of them joining new teams.
Premier League clubs, in particular and as usual, spent more money than clubs from other leagues, making a mockery of the poorly-affected finances due to the advent of the coronavirus. Surely enough, record were broken as well and one such club who broke their club record to sign a player this past summer were Chelsea.
The Blues have been looking to build on a strong start to life under Thomas Tuchel after winning the UEFA Champions League, and that showed in the shrewd additions they made in the summer. The Hard Tackle now takes a look at how Chelsea fared this past summer after what was a roller-coaster of a window in Europe.
INS: Romelu Lukaku, Marcus Bettinelli, Saul Niguez (loan)
OUTS: Tammy Abraham, Kurt Zouma, Fikayo Tomori, Davide Zappacosta, Olivier Giroud, Victor Moses, Marco van Ginkel, Danilo Pantic, Izzy Brown, Willy Caballero (released), Jamal Blackman (released), Tiemoue Bakayoko (loan), Kenedy (loan), Emerson Palmieri (loan), Michy Batshuayi (loan), Jake Clarke-Salter (loan), Abdul Rahman (loan), Billy Gilmour (loan), Matt Miazga (loan), Danny Drinkwater (loan), Tino Anjorin (loan)
MVA (Most Valuable Addition): Romelu Lukaku
Gary Neville on Chelsea’s title chances:
🗣“Chelsea is a team that wins and is ready to win more. The addition of Saul, along with Lukaku strengthens Chelsea enormously. It makes them, for me, even more formidable. They can challenge on all fronts.” pic.twitter.com/O8tttFSIJ9
— ChelseaFCBlogs (@ChelseaFCBlogs_) September 2, 2021
In a summer transfer window wherein Chelsea made just three signings (one of which is in the form of a backup player), choosing the Most Valuable Addition is rather straightforward. That is indeed the case in our feature here, with Romelu Lukaku being the easy pick for this section.
Chelsea have smashed their club record to bring the Belgian powerhouse back to Stamford Bridge. And while some may question whether he might be bang for the buck, it is important to note that Lukaku has come leaps and bounds since he first departed Chelsea back in 2014.
Since then, he has represented two Premier League clubs to varying degrees of success. However, it is the transfer to Inter Milan that has truly galvanized Lukaku, making him the “beast” of a striker that he is today.
Indeed, during his two-year stint with Inter Milan, Lukaku polished his game considerably while ironing out some of the flaws in his game. In particular, the 28-year-old has improved his infamous first touch significantly – even though he was found wanting at times against Liverpool last week – while he is also a more involved player in build-up play.
In addition, Lukaku has also added some creative elements to his game, becoming one of the most well rounded strikers across Europe. And after a season that saw Jorginho of all players end the campaign as their top scorer in the Premier League, Chelsea were in need of a prolific addition in the final third.
So, signing a self-confident Lukaku is not only a step in the right direction but a decision that could help Chelsea bridge the gap to Manchester City completely, all by himself. And if he can continue the run of form he displayed at Inter Milan, the fact that the west Londoner shattered their transfer record on him will make the sum look like chump change.
Shrewd Work (A Departure That Is Ideal For All Parties): Tammy Abraham
One goal and two assists in two games.
A bright start in Italy for Tammy Abraham 🌟 pic.twitter.com/JEzKSkNIet
— B/R Football (@brfootball) August 29, 2021
Thomas Tuchel might have been nothing short of phenomenal with most of the decisions he has taken since replacing Frank Lampard at the helm at Chelsea. However, in all honesty, the treatment meted out to a certain Tammy Abraham was rather unfair on the English striker.
With the 23-year-old not being a part of Tuchel’s plans, it became clear that he would be one of the first players out of the exit door at Stamford Bridge. That is exactly what happened, as after somewhat of a protracted transfer saga that saw several Premier League clubs being linked with him, Abraham ended up joining AS Roma.
The move has not only lightened the squad size at Tuchel’s disposal but also helped Chelsea recoup a handy sum of €40 million. That is nothing short of brilliant work by the people in-charge of the transfers at Chelsea, seeing as they raked in €40 million for a player who was hardly going to get any game-time had he stayed put at the club.
In addition, Chelsea have also inserted a buyback clause in the contract that Abraham has signed with Roma, which gives them a chance to bring him back to the club if he progresses considerably under the tutelage of Jose Mourinho at Roma. All in all, that was some top class work by Chelsea, who have once again proven to be the best sellers in the Premier League.
The Big Miss (A Player Who Should Have Left): Ross Barkley
Chelsea managed to offload over two dozen players in the form of permanent transfers or loan deals in the summer transfer window. However, despite the flurry of activity, there were a couple of misses for the west Londoners, who have a few unwanted players remaining in the first-team squad.
One such player is Ross Barkley, who has no place in the Chelsea first-team setup at the moment, especially following the acquisition of Saul Niguez. Add to it the fact that Ruben Loftus-Cheek has also been kept as part of Tuchel’s squad and the Blues would feel that this was a missed opportunity for them, especially seeing as the player adds no value whatsoever for them.
At the very least, Barkley ought to have been loaned out by Chelsea, who are now stuck with a player who adds very little to Thomas Tuchel’s gameplan while also raking in a lot of wages. The 27-year-old, who can still be offloaded to clubs in Turkey or Russia (even if it is unlikely), was linked with Burnley as well, only for the move to not materialise.
In the end, Tuchel is stuck with a Tammy Abraham-like situation, with Barkley unlikely to turn out too many times for Chelsea till the January transfer window opens, when Chelsea will be given another chance to loan him out, if not cash in on him. Four difficult months beckon, though, for Barkley.
Final Verdict: SUCCESS
Chelsea have once again shown that they are a force to be reckoned with. Whether it is on the field, where they appear to be one of the most formidable teams in Europe, or in the transfer market, where they have flexed their financial muscle once again, there is very little stopping the Blues right now.
The only real miss for Chelsea was the failure to sign a centre-back, with the protracted talks to sign Jules Kounde leading nowhere in the end. However, amid the advent of Trevoh Chalobah and the failure to offload Malang Sarr, Thomas Tuchel has more than enough absolute quantity of centre-backs.
The big arrivals were in departments that needed to be bolstered, with Romelu Lukaku set to add some much-needed goals and Saul Niguez introduce a fresh dynamic in midfield. So, while they did not manage to offload Ross Barkley and Sarr, it goes without saying that the summer transfer window was a resounding success for Chelsea, who are one of the favourites to win every trophy they will be contesting for.