Emulating Liverpool and exploiting analytics: How Todd Boehly plans to surpass Roman Abramovich era at Chelsea
Todd Boehly is on a mission to make Chelsea even better than they were under Roman Abramovich.
The US billionaire has set himself the target of improving on the unprecedented success of the past two decades at Stamford Bridge once his takeover is complete.
Boehly plans to continue the investment that has delivered 19 major trophies and seen some of the world’s best players head to the club during the Abramovich years. But he also wants to beat the system, in the manner of Liverpool under Jurgen Klopp.
The investor’s fortune has come from realising how to get a return on his money. He knows how to crunch the numbers — and sources close to him insist he is fully aware of the correlation between wage bill and Premier League position.
But the 48-year-old has also identified the potential to exceed that model through expert management, with quadruple-chasing Liverpool seen as a perfect example.
Klopp’s side have managed to go toe-to-toe with Manchester City in recent years, as well as reach three Champions League finals despite a relatively low net spend of £290million. That is a fraction of City’s £823m, even before the sensational signing of Erling Haaland is completed by the club.
Boehly is said to have his own ideas on how to build on the trophy-laden reign of Abramovich, but it would be impossible for him to ignore Liverpool, owned by fellow Americans Fenway Sports. They have found the perfect formula of big-money signings, in the form of Virgil van Dijk and Alisson, and smart investments, like Andy Robertson and Luis Diaz.
Boehly will be thrown into a critical first summer as owner and will immediately instruct the club to kick-start transfer plans. Transfer chief Marina Granovskaia is expected to remain on the board to ensure a smooth transition during his first window.
While there are concerns within the club that Chelsea are already playing catch-up with their rivals, with the sanctions placed on Abramovich stalling their recruitment process, Granovskaia’s presence should help them with long-term targets, such as Jules Kounde.
But Haaland’s imminent move to the Etihad is evidence of the ground they will have to make up. Other than pure money, Boehly’s influence on transfers is unlikely to be overly-visible this summer. Chelsea, through Granovskaia and technical advisor Petr Cech, have long-standing interest in Sevilla’s Kounde and have watched Leicester’s Wesley Fofana extensively.
West Ham’s Declan Rice has long been seen as a midfield option, but Conor Gallagher’s return from loan at Crystal Palace has got them thinking twice about a move for their former academy player. The priority is to bring in two top quality centre-backs, with out-of-contract Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen both leaving at the end of the season. Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso could also go, presenting Thomas Tuchel with unwanted upheaval in one key area of his team. Boehly is keen to exploit analytics and has a near-obsessive interest in data.
At the LA Dodgers, the baseball team he co-owns, he has placed a huge amount of faith in president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, who is considered the mastermind behind their success. The 2020 World Series and eight straight National League West titles were achieved with a mix of major deals, such as the £227m, 12-year contract for Mookie Betts, and data-led signings, like the previously unheralded Max Muncy, who was picked up from the minor leagues.
Notably, Boehly is not just about the numbers. He is said to trust the instinct of the professionals when it comes to player recruitment.
Tuchel will get his full backing, with Chelsea’s manager considered an “amazing” talent. Just like Fenway have built their success around Klopp, Tuchel will be given the chance to lead the club’s new era.
The German has already won three major trophies, including the Champions League and Club World Cup, and has the chance to add a fourth when Chelsea take on Liverpool in Saturday’s FA Cup Final.
Boehly has set himself an enormous target to surpass even what Abramovich achieved at Chelsea
He has impressed with his leadership during the uncertainty of Abramovich’s sanctioning and the feeling within the club is that Chelsea would have been much closer to the top of the Premier League table if not for injuries and Covid this season. Tuchel is expected to be handed significant funds to close that gap during Boehly’s first season in charge.
Chelsea’s prospective new owner has made it clear to those close to him that he is here to win. He has set himself an enormous target to surpass even what Abramovich achieved, but that fits in with an attitude that has served him so well in the business world. A new era dawns.