By all accounts, Arsenal were in the race to sign Ukrainian superstar Mykhailo Mudryk during the January transfer window. As the current Premier League leader, the 22-year-old forward has the potential to be a key addition to the title race.
Instead, Mudrak signed for Arsenal’s cross-town rivals, Chelsea.
According to Mudryk’s former club, Shakhtar Donetsk, now run by American businessman Todd Boehly, Chelsea swooped in to sign Mudryk for a transfer fee of $75 million with an additional $35 million expected to be paid in bonuses. .
Acquisition of Mudryk – Along with the deadline day, the British record $132 million deal for Enzo Fernandez – showed just how exciting the January transfer window is for Chelsea, with the club spending more than $350 million, according to TransferMarket. , and which has seen eight players arrive. Including a fleet of raiders.
Back in May, the UK government approved the sale of Chelsea to an ownership group led by Bohly in a deal worth more than $5 billion.
Chelsea were previously owned by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, who put the club up for sale in early March following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, saying at the time it was in the club’s best interests.
In May, the UK government added Abramovich to its blacklist as part of its efforts to “isolate” Russian President Vladimir Putin following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Buhly’s reign has already seen him get rid of coach Thomas Tuchel, who guided Chelsea to a second Champions League title in 2020/21, replacing the German with Graham Potter.
Along with Chelsea, Buhly has invested in several sports franchises, including stakes in the MLB’s Los Angeles Dodgers, the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers and the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks.
Since arriving at Chelsea, it is estimated that Bohly has spent around $750 million on transfers. Hardly a day goes by in January when Chelsea aren’t linked with a host of players.
“I think the last month has been pretty exciting, at least as someone who’s been covering it,” Dan Dormer of the ‘London by Blue Podcast’ told Sport.
“It’s also been a bit dry because it feels like every day we’re waking up to a new link or a new story.”
When the players have arrived, Chelsea’s results have been inconsistent – for the time being – as evidenced by the days gone by by the club’s fans. to sing“We’ve got a super Tommy Tuchel,” he said during his side’s 4-0 defeat by Manchester City in the FA Cup in early January.
But Buhly’s spread of new talent never wavered.
“We are all in – 100% – in every minute of every match. Our vision as owners is clear: we want to make the fans proud,” Bohly said in a statement, after his Chelsea purchase was completed. was
“As well as our commitment to developing the youth squad and securing the best talent, our plan is to invest in the club for the long term and build on Chelsea’s impressive history of success.”
In his first full transfer window as the club’s interim sporting director last summer, Bohli and Chelsea spent $302.08 million on new signings, according to TransferMarket. Chelsea have never reported how much the club spends on transfers and chose not to comment when presented with the club’s recent spending on new players.
Buhly has gone out of his way to try to make the transition to life under Potter as smooth as possible, bringing in the former Brighton manager’s coaching and many backroom staff to help him.
Meanwhile, Christopher Wavell joined Chelsea as technical director from RB Leipzig in Germany in December.
“They [Boehly] Graham and the ownership group will provide vital support and play a key role in driving forward our overall vision for the club,” Buhly told the club’s website when Weywell was appointed.
According to Dormer, Chelsea never properly replaced technical director Michael Emenalo, who left the club in 2017.
“If you think about it, the different managers, it’s like they were each different kids and they requested a different Lego set, and they’re trying to create a unified project. And his Meaning that sometimes, all the pieces don’t fit together,” Dormer said.
The January transfer window is often seen as the worst time to buy players, as clubs do not want to lose valuable assets and have the upper hand in negotiations. Not that it has stopped the blues.
Alongside this, permanent contracts were signed with Modric, Benoit Badiachel, Noni Madoki, Malo Gusto, Andre Santos, David Detro Fofana and Fernandez, while Portuguese superstar Joao Felix arrived on loan from Atletico Madrid.
According to the CIES Football Observatory, before Fernandez’s transfer, Chelsea have spent more than $600 million on 15 players this season. The deal for Fernandez brings the club’s recent transfer fee to more than $600 million.
It’s quite a spend, but there’s also a long-term strategy at play, with Chelsea targeting young players. 11 22 of the players signed for transfer fees are aged 22 or under.
Dormer says that with older players out of contract and some looking into their prime, there was a definite need to “revamp” the squad. On the last day of the January transfer window, experienced midfielder Jorginho was sold to table-topping Arsenal.
“It’s almost as if you went in for your eye exam and the optometrist is asking: ‘Better one or better two?’ and helping you with what 20/20 vision is for your glasses,” Dormer said. It’s something where there’s been an evolutionary process of trying to figure out who the best players are.
Dormer believes Chelsea now have the required strength in depth in their squad.
“If Reece James gets injured, Chelsea’s right-back drops dramatically in terms of overall performance,” he explained.
“And so having a similar player to elevate the floor on the individual behind your chosen starter and then also having the ability to rotate to keep the whole team healthy, especially when teams go 40 games, 50 games, plays 60 games plus.one season – plus internationals, plus timeouts.
However, this influx of talent potentially spells trouble for Chelsea.
According to UEFA regulations, a club can only register three new players in its playing squad for the knockout stages of the Champions League, meaning four of Chelsea’s Mudryk, Félix, Badiashile, Madueke, Fofana and Fernández. So will not be able to play in the tournament. .
Big spending on transfers has almost reached pre-pandemic levels this year, with Chelsea leading the pack.
According to the 2022 Global Transfer Market Report published by FIFA, a total of $6.5 billion was spent by clubs in 2022, up 33.5% from $4.86 billion in 2021, but still $6.94 billion in 2018 and That’s down from $7.35 billion in 2019.
With Chelsea spending more than $600 million on new players alone, questions are being raised about football’s financial regulations.
Chelsea are following the Financial Fair Play regulations of both the Premier League and European football’s governing body, UEFA, which give players longer contracts so that transfer costs are spread over several years.
In Mudryk’s case, the Ukrainian signed an eight-and-a-half-year deal with the Blues, meaning his roughly $110 million transfer fee will cost the club about $13 million a year. According to the BBC, Fernandez also signed an eight-and-a-half-year deal at Stamford Bridge.
Financial football expert Karen Maguire – who says he found Chelsea’s sudden transfer spending “strange”, given the usual caution of Clear Lake Capital, the investment fund involved in the takeover – explained that amortisation. It may be positive in the near future but it may have long term consequences. .
“It’s a very high-risk strategy because what if those players turn out to be rude?” Maguire told Sport.
“You are then obligated to pay the players’ wages over a period of six, seven, eight years.
“Chelsea is usually in the top three, certainly in the top four, of Premier League clubs in terms of wages.
“So finding another club that is willing to take the player off Chelsea’s hands and pay them a level of remuneration that the player is happy with will be quite difficult.”
In January, UEFA announced it was overhauling its Financial Fair Play rules, setting a five-year limit over which a transfer fee can be spread in order to prevent excessive amnesties. can be stopped
However, the change will come into effect during the summer of 2023 and will not apply retrospectively, meaning it will not affect Chelsea’s current spending.
Chelsea’s productive youth academy is also helping its bottom line – in recent years, Billy Gilmour, Fikayo Tomori, Mark Gouhe and Tommy Abraham have fetched hefty fees.
However, does such a huge influx of players to Chelsea have an impact on the club’s emerging prospects?
“It doesn’t make sense to have an academy system where kids aren’t getting the chance to play at this level,” said former Stoke City manager Tony Pulis. Sky Sports.
The widening disparity between the wealth of top clubs while others struggle financially is also raising concerns.
Fair Game, an organisation, “is committed to the same principles and is committed to improving the governance of our national game in the wider interests of football”, reiterating calls for a transfer levy on Premier League clubs. Said it could raise approx. $200 million that could “help provide a vital lifeline to clubs below the top flight who continue to struggle with the day-to-day challenges of the pandemic and the cost of living crisis.” ”
According to Maguire, there is an “arms race in terms of wages as a result of aggressive trading”, although he says the Premier League is more competitive than other European leagues, with Chelsea and Liverpool ranked 10th versus ninth last month. It appears from the collision. .
“Football is a talent industry and talent follows money and big clubs have money,” Maguire said.
“I think it’s really a matter of trying to get a degree of competitive balance so you don’t end up like we see in La Liga and some other European leagues where it’s effectively a procession and that’s not good. The Premier League is successful because it gets things right.
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