Will Chelsea suffer from another summer of transfer inactivity?
As last summer’s transfer window got into gear, Chelsea couldn't make up their minds on which players to sign. Meanwhile, they had sold some of their own. Diego Costa was cut loose via text message while £40million was preferred to Nemanja Matic. These were two players who literally ensured them the title.
While Chelsea continued to downsize its payroll, their rivals were relentless in bolstering their squads. At season's end, the Blues didn’t just lose their Premier League crown, they failed to earn a Champions League berth.
However, in July, Chelsea plunged headfirst into the transfer market. As if awakened from a deep slumber, they hurriedly began a shopping spree. Within 12 days, they had spent £144million in signing Antonio Rudiger Tiemoue Bakayoko and Alvaro Morata.
Rudiger was only signed because the board hadn’t backed Antonio Conte in moving quickly enough to sign Leonardo Bonucci; the Italian libero was there for the taking after falling out with Massimiliano Allegri at Juventus. Conte would always insist that selling Matic to a direct rival and replacing him with an injured Tiemoue Bakayoko was never his idea. For Morata, he was only an option if the club couldn’t quickly wrap up a deal for Romelu Lukaku.
More late signings followed. Danny Drinkwater joined Chelsea in September alongside Davide Zappacosta. By the end of the summer, over £200million had been spent on new recruits. The manager still wasn’t impressed.
In January, Ross Barkley who could barely walk, was recruited. A sharp and lively Michy Batshuayi was shipped on loan while £18million was spent in relieving Arsenal of 31-year-old Olivier Giroud.
Given the below-par transfer business they conducted last summer, winning the FA Cup was an absolute gift. The London giants has regressed since they won the 2016 Premier League. A similar scenario played out after they became the 2014 Premier League Champions.
We’re now into another transfer period. Once again Chelsea is sleep-walking.
What Chelsea should do
Not too long ago, it used to be easy for Chelsea. Signing whoever they want, whenever they wanted. Today, the Blues aren’t the transfer market bullies anymore. Even holding their own looks like a challenge.
There’s a question about Roman Abramovic's willingness to splash the cash as he once used to. The Russian mogul is currently enduring a running battle with the British government over his UK work visa. Unsurprisingly, Chelsea has pressed pause on their stadium development plan.
It looks like the Chelsea board isn’t too sold on the idea on adding more names to an already lavish payroll. They won’t go toe-to-toe with Manchester City or Manchester United who have already set their sights on a few very good players you know they can obtain.
One solution for the Blues is to look inwards. The Chelsea squad is no featherweight. For the manager, whoever that may be at the start of the season, there’s a great need to harness.
The mistake made in selling Nathaniel Chalobah shouldn’t be compounded. Chelsea’s English midfield army – Ross Barkley and Ruben Loftus-Cheek should be polished and tactically given opportunities to reach their potential. As Loftus-Cheek has shown, the English talents within Chelsea’s ranks should be representing the Three Lions.
There’s no way around making new signings, though. Chelsea must sign at least three good players to be competitors next season. This business must be concluded early enough. There’s a certain Anthony Martial waiting to be relieved of his misery at Old Trafford. The Blues can also get Riyad Mahrez; the Algerian is ready to join any big club at the moment.
What if they don’t?
If Chelsea stutter in the transfer market again, the result could be fatal in the new campaign. They still haven’t sorted the situation regarding their manager; which means there’s no definite roadmap for next season.
The blues should look over their shoulder and see what’s happening in North London. The Gunners do not just have a substantive manager, they’ve made some good signings to get the ball rolling.
Chelsea has a squad to finish high up among the top-six, but if they continue procrastinating transfer business, a worse finish than last season awaits.