Chelsea’s squad is as unstable as ever and there will be very few from the current crop in a future title-winning side. This is no longer a case of tweaking. We are talking about a revolution.
On Thursday, it was revealed that Chelsea had agreed a transfer fee for another young player. In the latest example of the new ownership looking to the fail-safe future, Todd Bohle and co from Clearlake, Christopher Fifill, Lawrence Stewart, Joe Shields or Paul Winstanley – we really have no idea who does what at Chelsea anymore – He had competition from Manchester City and Newcastle for 18-year-old Brazilian Andre Santos. David Datro Fofana, 20, is also expected to join the Blues in January from Molde.
With this pair, summer entrants Karni Chukwuemica (18), Gabriel Slonina (18) and Cesar Casadi (18), Probably Joseph Moukoko (18) If they can win the race to sign him from Borussia Dortmund and what appears to be a steady stream of very good talent from the academy, Chelsea could have a stellar squad in two to three years. But what about now?
Chelsea lost three Premier League games on the jump before the World Cup break and drew before that. They are currently on their longest winless run in a decade. They are now eight points off the top four and seventh favorite according to bettors in the race to finish in those Champions League qualifying spots.
The players, pretty much for a man, were out of shape ahead of the World Cup. And while being elevated in Qatar by some of the Chelsea players would provide peace of mind, those who have been away will not reap the rewards of time on the training ground with Graham Potter, which they clearly desperately needed.
Hiring Potter was a short-term risk with the hope of long-term reward. If Chelsea’s owners wanted to guarantee Champions League football, they would have followed the recruitment strategy of the past two decades which, with one or two exceptions, saw the arrival of well-qualified and respected managers who would modify their predecessor’s strategy. Continuity was the name of the game under Roman Abramovich. But by hiring Potter, Bohle launched a revolution.
It wasn’t clear at the time how damaging this revolution might be in the short term, but Potter’s first two months in charge suggest things may not be so great for a while at Chelsea. The apparent conversion strategy suggests that Bohli and his fellow investors have now accepted this fact. If only they had committed to it sooner.
Chelsea spent £280m in the summer and, let’s face it, got almost nothing back on that investment. Those expenses looked ridiculous when they sacked Thomas Tuchel – who we’re told played a significant role in signing those players – a week after the transfer window closed, and it’s even more baffling now that Potter is struggling to get the best out of any of them.
How many of these players did Potter want? Most of them will join Because They were in demand, many paid hugely, and expected to play. Can Potter not start Raheem Sterling if he doesn’t want to? Does he think Kalidou Coulibaly is more worthy than Trivoh Chellaba? Can he handle the pressure on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang or does the striker already have so much influence in the dressing room that it could cost Potter his job?
Then there are the players who never left. Obviously, Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic are not happy. Cesar Azpilicueta may now be regretting his decision not to move to Barcelona. Both Jorginho and N’Golo Kante’s contracts expire in the summer. Edouard Mendy wants pay parity with Kepa Arrizabalaga. Mason Mount has yet to sign a new deal.
It’s as if Mateo Kovacic, who has 18 months left to run on his contract, Thiago Silva, 38, and Reece James are the only Chelsea players who present a semblance of stability at the moment. Perhaps there was no such uncertainty in a group at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea are now in a strange position as it would be surprising if they qualified for the Champions League, perhaps as far from winning the title as they have been in the past two decades. This is no longer a case of tweaking. This is a complete rebuilding job, not unlike Mikel Arteta’s operation at Arsenal.
Only Bukayo Saka – who played at left-back – and Granit Xhaka remain in Arteta’s first starting line-up as Arsenal manager. How much of the Chelsea squad would be involved if and when Potter were to chase Chelsea the title again?
Chelsea’s title-winning midfield is more likely to include Chukwuemeca, Santos or Casadey than Jorginho, Kante or Kovacic. The title-winning Chelsea striker is almost certainly yet to join. We can just picture Wesley Fofana lifting the Premier League trophy, along with Mount and James. Is that Kai Havertz in the background? It seems unlikely.
Chelsea have a bright future, but they face a bleak present as many will remember.
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