Boehly’s Busy Summer: A thorough look at Chelsea’s Transfer Window Signings

Koulibaly's announcement in Las Vegas
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Published on 17 Sep 2022 11:22 pm (UK Time)

The atmosphere around West London in the last 3 months has been quite explosive, to say the least; Chelsea Football Club managed to spend approximately £256 million in order to enhance their squad depth, and owner Todd Boehly also initiated an internal clear out which saw many vital figures leave the club. Club director Marina Granovskaia, who was the leading woman for all transfer transactions taking place within the club, left her role shortly after Boehly’s entry. Petr Cech, who was a technical and performance advisor to the club, also left his role after 3 years in charge.

Former Manager Thomas Tuchel and owner Todd Boehly had an extremely busy summer and worked together throughout the transfer window to acquire their targets. However, much to Chelsea fans’ surprise, Chelsea and Tuchel parted ways 6 days after the transfer window closed. Many fans expressed their displeasure at the news and felt it was unfair to the manager, as, after so much financial backing in the summer, he wasn’t given much time to implement his style of play with the new signings.

The Blues successfully purchased 11 players this summer, and potentially 7 of these signings are part of the first team. Tuchel had a big say in whom Chelsea brought in this summer, and parting ways with him after such a short period confused many, as it would put new manager Graham Potter in a difficult situation as well. Tuchel and Boehly had disagreements behind the scenes when it came to player signings, and so their communication eventually broke down.

Boehly publicly stated that Tuchel and the club’s vision didn’t align properly and that Chelsea wants a manager who can collaborate closely with the higher-ups at the club. Boehly appointed Graham Potter as the new Chelsea manager after watching him closely at Brighton; the English coach finished 9th with his Brighton side last season, and he’s been widely praised for his attacking style of play. Attackers in Chelsea were struggling when it came to creativity and finishing, and the appointment of Potter may help in bringing the best out of the Blues’ forwards. Although fans are unhappy with Tuchel’s departure, Potter’s entry has also created a buzz around the fanbase, as they look forward to seeing what he can add to the table.

Let’s have a detailed look at what kept Boehly and co busy this summer, and whether the business they’ve conducted will be successful in the long run.

Incomings

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Thomas Tuchel had a complete say on what first-team players should be brought into the club over the last 3 months, and Todd Boehly backed him throughout the process.

Carney Chukwuemeka was signed by the club from Aston Villa earlier on in the window for £20m, however, it is unknown whether he’ll be integrated into Chelsea’s first team immediately, and with Tuchel’s departure, uncertainty has only increased. The 18-year-old could also potentially be a signing for the U23s if they need some additional support, as Boehly has looked to boost the younger squad with more investment, given their horrible form in PL2 last season where they narrowly avoided relegation.

The following players made the switch to Stamford Bridge and are currently a part of the Blues’ first team this season;

  • Raheem Sterling (Manchester City) – £47.5m
  • Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli) – £33m
  • Marc Cucurella (Brighton & Hove Albion) – £55m
  • Wesley Fofana (Leicester City) – £75m
  • Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (FC Barcelona) – £10m
  • Denis Zakaria (Juventus) – Loan, with the option to buy
  • Carney Chukwuemeka (Aston Villa)- £20m

Raheem Sterling

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The former Man City winger made the switch to West London in July, after Tuchel was pushing to sign him as his first-choice attacker. Sterling had an excellent spell at the Euros in 2021 where he also finished the tournament as England’s leading goal scorer. He had a decent final season at City as well, as he finished his campaign with 13 goals and 5 assists in the Premier League; his consistent performances caught the eye of Tuchel as a result and in search for more game time, Sterling was open to leaving Manchester since he was also in his final contract year. The Blues were looking to add some firepower to their underperforming attack, as creativity and finishing had been a huge issue in their squad. Acquiring an experienced winger who has played at the top level for many years for £47.5 million is a very good deal for Chelsea, as Sterling will undoubtedly have a positive impact on Graham Potter’s attack.

ALSO READ:  Were Chelsea right to replace Thomas Tuchel?

There were initially question marks around Sterling’s finishing, however, he’s shown no signs of concern as of late as he’s already started netting goals for the Blues. As of September, he has 3 goals and 1 assist in 6 Premier League games, and he also scored Chelsea’s first goal under Potter against RB Salzburg. Kai Havertz and Mason Mount have been performing well as of late, yet Sterling has still managed to register himself onto the scoresheet a few times in a short time. Paying £47.5m for an attacker whose market value was almost double this amount, is undoubtedly smart business conducted by Boehly, as the Englishman will bring some much-needed support to Chelsea’s struggling front line.

Kalidou Koulibaly

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Boehly and Tuchel targeted yet another player with tons of experience in topflight football, as they looked to replace centre-back, Antonio Rudiger. Koulibaly was one of Napoli’s most valuable assets and was labelled as one of Europe’s finest. Having played in Naples at a very high level for 8 long years, the Senegalese international was ready to make the switch to West London when Chelsea came knocking. For just £33m, adding Koulibaly to the squad meant Tuchel was adding another leader to the dressing room, which is just what a young Chelsea side needs.

The 31-year-old was a powerhouse in Serie A and he also played a big part in Senegal winning the AFCON tournament in 2022. Thiago Silva has shown that age is just a number, as he’s still one of the world’s finest defenders at the age of 38; Boehly has also put that trust into Koulibaly by offering him a 4-year deal, which is a big statement considering players of his age are rarely ever offered a long-term deal, especially by a club like Chelsea.

But so far, Koulibaly has had an up and down start to life at Chelsea. The Senegalese international started off in excellent fashion, as he even scored an elegant volley on his Stamford Bridge debut against London rivals Tottenham.

However, he put up a disappointing display the next game at Elland Road, as he struggled to keep up with Leeds’ strong press and he eventually ended up getting a red card for two irresponsible challenges. Consequently, he was suspended for the next game against Leicester City and his performances have dropped since.

However, Graham Potter will feel confident with Koulibaly in his side, as he’s shown what he’s capable of before, and his current form should just be seen as a small bump in the road. With great power, comes great responsibility, and Todd Boehly feels positive that the Senegalese force will bring both, along with silverware and success to Stamford Bridge.

ALSO READ:  Tuchel Sacking: Harsh Or Right Call?

Marc Cucurella

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The Blues went out and successfully purchased Marc Cucurella from Brighton, in a deal amounting to £62 million including add-ons, after hijacking the deal from Man City.

The energetic left-back will add some much-needed support to Chelsea’s squad as he’ll be competing with Ben Chilwell for the starting left-back spot. Chilwell suffered an unfortunate long-term ACL injury early into last season and he’s only just returned to full fitness recently; as a result, Tuchel decided to invest in Cucurella.

There have been some obvious arguments as to how he might be too expensive considering he’s only played 1 season in the Premier League. However, the gifted 23-year-old was developed in Barcelona’s academy and was eventually loaned to Eibar and sold to Getafe, prior to joining Brighton. He was Brighton’s player of the season this year as well, which also plays a part in his hefty price tag. At the end of the day, Chelsea isn’t paying millions for an average full-back, they’re paying for a flexible La Masia product with an excellent work rate on the pitch.

His versatility is his unique selling point; the Spaniard has been able to play as a centre-back in a back 3, left wing-back and left winger. Cucurella was previously working with Graham Potter at Brighton and the latter’s appointment as Blues head coach has reunited the pair.

Potter has experimented with Cucurella’s versatility at Brighton, and even at Chelsea during his first game as manager against Salzburg, where he changed the team’s formation multiple times throughout the match. He’s been praised highly by the coach, and there’s no doubt he’ll have a grand role to play this season.

His stamina and eagerness to win the ball after every challenge are two attributes that are appreciated by the manager as he’ll fit right into the Blues’ new aggressive attacking system. Although Chelsea’s current form is worrying fans, Cucurella has still already become a fan favourite; he’s managed to adapt quickly to his new environment and he’s still one of the few players performing well week in and week out. 

Wesley Fofana

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In the search for a second centre-back after Koulibaly, Chelsea targeted Wesley Fofana. Initially, they were after Jules Kounde, who chose a move to FC Barcelona instead; this is when they decided to turn towards another young French defender in Fofana, who impressed at Leicester City.

Fofana missed most of last season due to a major fibula fracture injury he suffered during a pre-season game, but this injury didn’t affect Chelsea’s interest in him. The young Frenchman didn’t come cheap, as the Blues had to reportedly pay up to £75 million as Leicester weren’t willing to let him go for any less.

During the transfer saga, Fofana’s performances dipped, and he was temporarily demoted down to the U23s. Leicester City’s manager Brendan Rodgers expressed his disappointment over the player’s attitude and publicly criticised him during press conferences; he felt that Fofana’s commitment to the club had dropped and that he expected more from the youngster.

He also reportedly forced his move from Saint Etienne to Leicester; this may give out red flags to some Chelsea fans who may believe Fofana could always force a move away if a big club comes knocking after a while. However, there are no doubts about his quality.

The youngster is a Premier League proven talent at the age of 21, and he played a big part in Leicester winning the FA Cup in 2021. His quality is appreciated by Chelsea, and Graham Potter will be pleased with an exceptionally talented young centre-back at his disposal.

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With the Blues currently in poor form, it’s hard to tell how Fofana is settling in, but, within the club, he’s seen as a long-term investment, hence the 7-year contract he’s penned down. Although the club have paid a hefty fee of £75m, this price could pay off well in the coming years, and his partnership with Koulibaly and Thiago Silva will be one to watch closely.

Deadline Day Transfers

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Furthermore, the Blues sealed the deal with 2 players on deadline day. Aubameyang left FC Barcelona to join Chelsea, in hopes of reuniting with Thomas Tuchel, whom he worked with at Borussia Dortmund a few years ago. However, he was left shocked by the news of Tuchel’s sacking coming out a few days after he signed the contract. Aubameyang had played for just under 60 minutes against Dinamo Zagreb, which was also the only game he played under Tuchel at Chelsea, as the manager parted ways with the club shortly after.

The Gabon international was Arsenal’s leading man until he fell out with Gunners’ coach Mikel Arteta; the striker was sold to Barcelona in January where he impressed for a 6-month long spell, however, he was sold in August as Barcelona aimed to ease their debt. Aubameyang is a proven goalscorer and has performed well in the biggest leagues in the world, however, Graham Potter’s system will play a crucial part in how the Gabonese international settles into his new club

Denis Zakaria was the second player brought in by Chelsea on deadline day; it was a surprising transfer deal that progressed in the last few hours of the transfer window. The Blues acquired the Swiss international on a loan deal, with an option to buy. Many feel this deal was a “panic buy” as Chelsea’s search to find another midfielder was not successful. Frenkie De Jong was supposed to be the first-choice midfield signing, however, he refused to leave Barcelona and Chelsea was left with no option, but to keep hunting till the last day. Zakaria was only just bought by Juventus in January 2022, and it’s concerning to see how he’s already being loaned out by the club. He’s yet to make his debut for Chelsea and there definitely remains some uncertainty as to how he’ll be used since he’ll be facing a lot of competition in the midfield.

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Boehly’s strong faith in Graham Potter could create some optimism for the future. He’s not been hesitant to open his wallet; around £250 million is an incredible amount to spend in the summer window, and he’s proved to fans that he’s willing to build a strong internal structure at the club. He’s taken matters into his own hands when it’s come to recruitment, and he’s made a bold decision to part ways with a popular coach as he looks to prioritise strong communication between each department. However, there will be moments this season that will require patience as the road won’t be so smooth. After a fairly rough year, the Blues are going through some major changes in every section of the club, and it will take time for Chelsea’s big picture to come together. There’s no doubt that Todd Boehly has huge ambition, however, time will be a crucial decider as to whether the bold business he’s conducted in the last few months will be successful.

How do you feel about Chelsea’s transfer window activity?

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