What Tosin Adarabioyo transfer means for Trevoh Chalobah as Chelsea face FFP wait

Chelsea defender Trevoh Chalobah
-Credit: (Image: Richard Sellers/Sportsphoto/Allstar via Getty Images)

Chelsea's pursuit of Fulham centre-back Tosin Adarabioyo has 'no relation' to the future of current first-team option Trevoh Chalobah, understands. Having made progress towards reaching a deal for Adarabioyo, he is now close to becoming the first summer signing.

Although Enzo Maresca is yet to be announced as the new head coach, there is nothing to worry about on that front and Adarabioyo is well-placed to come in alongside the manager. Maresca will sign a five-year deal with the club and has already discussed possible transfers with sporting directors Paul Winstanley and Laurence Stewart, including that of centre-backs.

It is thought that as well as defensive options, the need for a new goalkeeper and forward was discussed. So although Chelsea's interest in Adarabioyo extends beyond their own talks with Maresca in recent weeks, there is also an overlap in their timelines at Manchester City.

Maresca was appointed as coach of the City development squad in July 2020, with Adarabioyo remaining a player principally in the academy until August that year before his move to Fulham. The now 26-year-old never played under Maresca, though Cole Palmer and Romeo Lavia did.

It is just one of the many City connections for Chelsea, who have also signed or appointed Joe Shields, Raheem Sterling, Stewart and Tom Glick in the last two years. Shields and Stewart specifically would have been closer with Adarabioyo after being involved at the club whilst he was in the academy.

For Chelsea it now leaves them with the prospect of welcoming Maresca in and having six senior centre-backs to work with initially. Alfie Gilchrist, 20, is also familiar with the role despite playing most of his football last year under Mauricio Pochettino on the right of defence.

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Even with Thiago Silva moving on at the end of his four-year stay at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea are now set to be overflowing in the department. If it was a case of one-in-one-out with Adarabioyo and Silva there would still be more options than is usually necessary.

Chelsea often chose to use Levi Colwill at left-back in the first half of the 2023/24 campaign due to injuries and also a lack of height elsewhere in the team. Axel Disasi was also called on to cover for the absences of Reece James and Malo Gusto at times.

Colwill has spent a large part of 2024 out of the team due to fitness problems though, whilst Wesley Fofana didn't play at all having suffered yet another damaging knee injury at the start of pre-season. Benoit Badiashile missed the early months of the campaign with his own recovery.

Once Chalobah returned to the side in February it left Pochettino with a weekly dilemma over which duo to go with. He settled with the former Lorient and Huddersfield loanee and one other in the final weeks, but Maresca will have his own decision to make.

The Italian boss likes one of his full-backs to come into midfield when on the ball in order to create an overload - forming the 3-2 build-up structure - with the other forming part of a situational back-three. Each of his options are well well-suited to that having played in similar defences previously.

What this doesn't answer, though, is which of the seven possible centre-backs (Badashile, Gilchrist, Fofana, Colwill, Chalobah, Disasi, Adarabioyo) will still be at the club come the start of the new season.

Badiashile is wanted by AC Milan, who have shown interest in him over the last two windows despite Chelsea only signing him in January 2023. The Frenchman played at Monaco, where Stewart was involved prior to joining Chelsea, but has been the subject of attention.

Milan have expressed interest in taking him both on loan and permanently, understands, though he is not seen as available. The same, however, cannot be said for Chalobah.

He was extremely close to leaving the club last summer when Bayern Munich and Thomas Tuchel came calling late on into the window. An agreement for him to head out to Germany had been agreed before the deal fell through.

Chelsea defender Trevoh Chalobah
Trevoh Chalobah is up for sale yet again -Credit:Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Chalobah, unlike fellow academy graduate Conor Gallagher, has a long-term contract at Chelsea until 2028. He signed that in the summer of 2022 - the first of the Todd Boehly-Clearlake Capital tenure - but has been perenially up for sale since.

Had he not picked up an injury on the tour of America last year he may well have also exited. With Chelsea seeking to remain compliant with Premier League financial rules - as well as taking UEFA's own restrictions into consideration after qualifying for the Conference League - Chalobah is an attractive but sellable asset for the club.

Like Gallagher and other players to have come through Cobham and into the first team (Ian Maatsen, Mason Mount, Lewis Hall, Armando Broja, and more), he would represent 'pure profit' on the accounts. It leaves these players as some of the most obvious to exit.

Disasi is just 12 months into a six-year deal signed in 2023 after his move from Monaco (where he also worked under Stewart), and Colwill is seen as indispensable despite suitors from across the world. Neither of these looks likely to depart before the new season.

Gilchrist (not included in the six names referenced above) could be the exception. As he aims to continue his development it has been suggested that Championship clubs are keen to take him on loan.

The other uncertainty is the fitness of Fofana. He hasn't played since May 2023 and only managed slightly more than 1,000 Premier League minutes in his first season at SW6. Before that he suffered a broken leg at Leicester that cut his campaign short.

With such a list of significant problems, even if not related, he will have to be carefully managed over the summer and throughout his integration back into the side. This just adds another obstacle for Maresca to manage.

So although Adarabioyo coming in may not signal the end of Chalobah's Chelsea career directly - in that he is not deemed a replacement and does not impact the club's plans, whatever they may be, for the 24-year-old - there is still plenty to sort out at the back.