Enzo Maresca must solve £58m Chelsea transfer problem as Cole Palmer worry clear

Leicester City manager Enzo Maresca
-Credit: (Image: Plumb Images/Leicester City FC via Getty Images)

Enzo Maresca's biggest task at Chelsea is to make use of one of the most expensively assembled but inefficiently performing squads in world football. Costing over £1billion in combined committed transfer fees, rarely has the group of young players thrown together by the Todd Boehly-Clearlake Capital ownership looked anything close to the sum of its parts.

Even a sixth-place finish with two trips to Wembley wasn't enough to meet the expectations of many. Mauricio Pochettino's struggles throughout his first and only term in charge demonstrated the complexities of working with such a raw and inexperienced set of players though, and it ultimately left him on a different page to the club's decision-makers.

Maresca is expected to be more aligned with the structure under co-sporting directors Paul Winstanley and Laurence Stewart (as well as controlling co-owners Behdad Eghbali and Jose E Feliciano). He will be challenged with putting the talent purchased into a coherent and cohesive team that rises up the Premier League table.

This is easier said than done though. Although those signed by Boehly-Clearlake last summer and in the £300million splurge of January 2023 have had time to adapt in England before Maresca's arrival in a way that Pochettino was not able to benefit from, their contrasting fortunes are stark.

In the latest figures from football data website Transfermarkt, only four members of the squad have seen their price rise in 2024. Winning the last five games of the Premier League season was not deemed enough to increase the value of most of the players, with the reality of the situation all too clear.

Outside of Cole Palmer, who understandably saw his price rise to £68million after a remarkable first year at the club, nobody rose more than £5million (Djordje Petrovic). Meanwhile, 12 players decreased in value.

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Six of those spent most (if not all) of the season out with injury, but it still makes for grim reading. Reece James and Ben Chilwell, once two of the most important players in the team, have seen their personal stocks decline consistently since the start of 2022. More recently and the huge price tags plus early season problems for Enzo Fernandez and Moises Caicedo saw their individual values drop as well.

Christopher Nkunku impressed in the flashes that he played but only scoring three goals across the campaign saw the biggest drop off of £8.5million. Wesley Fofana, signed for £70million in 2022, is deemed to only be worth £21million currently.

In total it means that there has been an overall depreciation of £21million. However, of those that dropped it is a more worrying £58million decrease. Outside of Palmer, the increase is only equal to £11million.

How much of this can be put down to Pochettino, individual performances, squad building, and other factors is still up for debate. However, either way it will still be Maresca's duty to get the best out of the players available and to see those values rise once more.

As much in a footballing sense as in a business one. Chelsea's hoped-for model will struggle to keep working without player improvement. For Maresca's sake, improving those figures will mean he is getting the message across and that results are taking care of themselves on the pitch.