Despite our transfer embargo, it’s never dull at Chelsea Football Club. Only one gargantuan institution is capable of signing a player while serving a transfer ban, and selling our most experienced defender to a London rival in the same window. In this article, I will attempt to summarise our important deals of the transfer window, while providing suitable replacements wherever possible.
Our star man who has mesmerised Stamford Bridge for the past seven years finally secured his dream move to Real Madrid. While this was never really a secret that he wanted to play for Los Blancos, many fans were not angered with this move as he handled it in a very professional manner, unlike our previous player who joined them. The emotion surrounding this fan base was that of grief. However with only one year left on his contract and his unwillingness to extend it meant this was the correct decision for all parties. The reported fee that we have received is £88.5 million, with add-ons taking the deal to around £130 million, which is a good fee for a 28 year old.
Players like Eden Hazard are not easy to replace. Pulisic was brought in, but hardly had the same effect as Hazard yet. Many names are being thrown into the mix, such as Jadon Sancho, Ousmane Dembele and even Wilfred Zaha. A wildcard option would be Federico Chiesa from Fiorentina.
This name is a very controversial one in the Chelsea community. One can hardly forget his celebrations when he scored for PSG in a 2-2 draw which saw us get knocked out of the Champions League. His forced move to Arsenal on deadline day seemed to give a similar vibe. Although he seems like a nice, fun person who had a good influence on the younger players, he has proved time and again that the only thing he ever cares about is himself. His second season under Conte another prime example. The £8 million fee we received from him was not the highest, but reasonable for an old defender. However, this left us with a young and inexperienced defence and a lack of leadership at the back.
When our transfer ban does end, we need to go all out for a centre back, someone who is vocal and a leader at the back. The names that top the list for me include AC Milan’s Alessio Romagnoli and Portuguese Ruben Dias. A cheaper, home-grown alternative would be Bournemouth’s Nathan Ake, who is a product of our youth academy.
Other notable departures include the sale of Ola Aina to Torino, while Bristol City exercised their buyback option on Jay Dasilva. Other transfers which took place after the closure of the English Transfer Window include the loan of Timoue Bakayoko back to AS Monaco, Kenedy to Getafe and Baba Rahman to Mallorca, hence not giving up just yet on our loan army tag. Micheal Hector has also officially decided to join Fulham once the January window opens and will continue to train with them until then.
An exceptional case when a transfer ban is imposed on a club, Kovacic made his loan move from Real Madrid permanent for around £40 million. This transfer was possible as the Croatian midfielder was registered as a Chelsea player in the previous season, the same reason we could have signed Higuain but chose not to.
Signing Kovacic was in my opinion a great deal, considering we spent similar amounts in signing Bakayoko and Drinkwater in 2017. Kovacic played all across the midfield last season, and remains a good replacement for Jorginho or Kante. He can also play alongside both of them, as we saw several times last season under Sarri and this season in the Super Cup vs Liverpool as well.
Reports coming out recently seem to indicate that our ban may be reduced to just one window, meaning we may be able to sign players in January. If that is the case, we must concentrate on a centre back and a world class winger. Other positions such as fullback and a clinical striker are contingent to departures and performances by the youngsters in the team. One thing is certain: improvement is clearly required in key areas for us to compete with the elite and smart buying is essential at this time so that we don’t fall very much off the pace of the likes of Liverpool and Man City.