The Hard Tackle analyses and delivers its own verdict on the business done by Premier League champions Chelsea.
Barring their now standard loaning of players across Europe and South America, the Blues have once again had a busy transfer window, one which has seen the departure and arrival of a number of players from and to Stamford Bridge.
With regard to the players that Chelsea brought in this summer, there were some stark similarities to last summer’s business. A striker, a defensive midfielder, a new goal-keeper, a new center-back and two deadline day signings, one of whom was a wingback. The Hard Tackle gives its own verdict on the summer transfer business conducted by the defending Premier League champions.
INS: Willy Caballero, Antonio Rudiger, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Alvaro Morata, Danny Drinkwater, Davide Zappacosta
OUTS: John Terry, Nathan Ake, Ola Aina(loan), Kurt Zouma(loan), Ruben Loftus-Cheek(loan), Nathaniel Chalobah, Nemanja Matic, Asmir Begovic
MVA (Most Valuable Addition) – Alvaro Morata
In the Abramovich era, the Blues have had a notoriously difficult time with their forwards. The likes of Hernan Crespo, Andriy Shevchenko, Mateja Kezman, Fernando Torres and Radamel Falcao have all tried and failed to leave behind a great legacy at the club.
Now, Alvaro Morata has taken it upon himself to try and break the curse of the number 9 shirt(worn by all but Shevchenko amongst the aforementioned) in the Abramovich era and the former Real Madrid and Juventus striker, has gotten off to a flying start in the English top flight.
In 4 Premier League matches, Morata has scored 3 goals and provided 2 assists, helping Chelsea fans quickly get over the fact that they missed out on Romelu Lukaku. He seems to have already gotten used to the physical nature of the league and seems to have the pace and desire shown by Diego Costa, without all the theatrics.
Morata is vastly experienced for his age and has already conquered 2 different Leagues and Europe. The Spaniard set them back a reported club record fee of £60 million, but should he keep scoring at this rate, Chelsea fans may find themselves getting over Diego Costa sooner rather than later.
Shrewd Work (A departure that is ideal for both parties) – Kurt Zouma
After making 58 appearances in his first two seasons at Stamford Bridge, over the course of which he won the 2014/15 Premier League title and EFL Cup, he suffered a terrible knee injury in February last year and only returned to first team action 11 months later.
Last season, Chelsea purchased David Luiz and also moved Cesar Azpilicueta to center-back and this summer saw the arrival of Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen meaning that opportunities would’ve come few and far in between for the Frenchman.
So Chelsea decided to send Zouma out on loan to Stoke City, to try and regain match fitness and the kind of form that saw him establish himself in the first team two years ago and so far, Zouma looks to have settled in quite well in Staffordshire, immediately establishing himself in the starting XI.
Mark Hughes has already been impressed with the 22-year-old and so far, this deal is proving to be beneficial for all three parties. Should this good form continue, Chelsea may consider recalling Zouma back in January, much like they did with Nathan Ake earlier this year.
The Big Miss (A player who should have left) – Kenedy
The Brazilian, like Zouma had a difficult campaign last season. The 21-year-old was sent on loan to Watford and expected to build on an extremely promising 15/16 season, where he scored 2 goals and provided an assist in 7 starts across all competitions that season.
Predominantly an attacking player, Kenedy had to switch to a more defensive role at Chelsea due to their problems in defence in the latter half of the 15/16 campaign and that undoubtedly played a role in stunting his progress and development.
Kenedy also managed to show his versatility, playing on the wings, in midfield and left-back in what was a disastrous season for the Blues. However, the former Fluminense attacker only managed to make 3 appearances last season in a season cut short by a knee injury.
He eventually returned to Chelsea in January and made 2 appearances for Antonio Conte’s side, one against his former side Watford and a 19 minute cameo in Chelsea’s victory against Brentford in the FA Cup fourth round, where he featured at left-back.
After being sent home from Chelsea’s pre-season tour of China for some extremely immature social media behaviour, the Brazilian was expected to be sent on loan in order to try and get his career back on track. However, Chelsea’s inability to find another left wing-back this summer eventually led to Kenedy being retained in the squad.
Which seems like a shame, considering that his vast potential will be wasted on the Chelsea bench. At 21 years of age, he still has his best years ahead of him, but he needs to play week in and week out. Unfortunately, that’s not likely to happen at Stamford Bridge this season.
He’s fast, has a good eye for goal and has that typical Brazilian flair. It would’ve been much better for him to go play as an attacking player for another Premier League club on loan, rather than the Chelsea reserves or as a second choice wingback in the senior squad. A missed opportunity for both club and player.
Final Verdict: FAIR
Except for left wingback, Chelsea now have more than one player for each position and besides Zappacosta, all of their summer signings have Champions League experience. The return of Andreas Christensen into the first team squad also serves as a positive boost to their much maligned youth policy.
However, the Blues have already played 5 of their 47 mandatory games this season and with them expected to make it to the latter stages of the FA Cup, EFL Cup and the Champions League, they will likely need more than 22 players to keep their title challenge alive on 4 different fronts.
As things stand, this window can’t be categorised as a failure or as a great success. Besides Nemanja Matic they managed to replace those who left with more experienced players, but for what is sure to be a lengthy season, they would have done well to acquire some more personnel.