The Chelsea rebuild is already breaking records, and Todd Boehly and Clearlake still look a long way off financing a title-winning team.
Imagine trying to spend £1.6m every day for 240 days in a row. Rightmove would turn into Tinder. You could fund daily trips into space on Virgin Galactic for families of four. You could settle Conservative Party chair tax bills in two days or buy a mid-range private Caribbean island in four.
Todd Boehly has spent £1.6m per day on new players since he became Chelsea’s owner. £407m in 240 days. No football club in history has spent more money on transfers in a season. In less than a year, the new ownership group at Chelsea has forced UEFA to change its FFP rules. And with that summer constraint in mind, within a week Boehly and Clearlake’s outlay per day could be well over £2m.
Truth is, it looks as though quite a big chunk of the money spent already has been wasted. The club are already reportedly willing to listen to offers for £50m Raheem Sterling and £33m Kalidou Koulibaly, while we may as well add the £12m spent on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to Thomas Tuchel’s £13m pay-out. The jury is very much still out on £72m Wesley Fofana and £60m Marc Cucurella.
You may remember in June last year some Manchester United fans secretly filming club CEO Richard Arnold as he buddied up to them in a bar and opened up on the “f***ing nightmare” that had befallen the club. Arnold – whose own grubby mitts were all over the mess but was attempting to shirk the blame – said they had “f***ing burned through cash” by spending £1bn in a decade post Sir Alex Ferguson.
That’s child’s play to Boehly and Clearlake, who are on course to wipe the floor with the Glazers in the cash-burning stakes. And considering how they’ve spent their money so far, that’s probably what’s required to turn Chelsea back into Premier League champions.
Every new signing at Chelsea is greeted with updated squad depth graphics on social media, with every member of the squad displayed in a 4-2-3-1, now with close to three players per position. But it’s a squad that flatters to deceive.
Many of those players will be leaving in the summer, either at the end of their contracts or because of new competition that’s effectively forcing them out. Some of the younger signings – Andrey Santos, David Datro Fofana, Gabriel Slolina – will likely leave on loan, and if we’re to judge (perhaps unfairly) on what’s happened to the loan army before, may never play for Chelsea again.
Feasibly, this is the squad Chelsea could be left with at the start of next season.
This is the worst-case scenario, or rather the greatest possible clearing of the decks. And it’s too early to rule some of the absent players out. Graham Potter hasn’t had much of a chance to work with many of them. Christian Pulisic was showing some sign of improvement before he got injured, and could finally realise his potential. N’Golo Kante is yet to play under the new manager and it’s claimed he’s in talks to extend his contract in any case. And although there are rumours of early exits for Sterling and Koulibaly, they are just rumours.
But even if Cesar Azpilicueta stays, Chelsea need a right-back. Even if N’Golo Kante stays, they need a central midfielder, possibly two. And even if Armando Broja stays, they need a striker. That’s three signings they need, minimum, before you consider 50:50 outgoings and upgrades.
So that’s £100m for a top-of-the-range striker, £100m on a central midfielder, let’s say £50m on a right-back. Kepa Arrizabalaga has markedly improved, but is he a Premier league-winning goalkeeper? That’s at least another £50m. Thiago Silva will need replacing at some point, presumably relatively soon, and anyone close to his level will cost £100m. That’s £400m without being outlandish.
Of course they could just spend the money more wisely. Although no-one’s told Chelsea, it is possible to sign five quality players for say £200m. Arsenal bought Thomas Partey, Martin Odegaard, Aaron Ramsdale, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Gabriel Jesus for just £175m.
And actually, with a manager in Potter renowned for improving players, that would be the smart strategy. But interest in Moises Caicedo and Enzo Fernandez suggests the current method of targeting the obvious and overpaying for them looks set to continue, if the new FFP rules allow.
£407m could become £1bn all too easily.
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