400 million slammed since last summer, but what are Chelsea playing in the transfer window?

John Textor must watch this with envy. The new owner of Olympique Lyonnais, who spent 400 million euros to buy out the fabulous institution, is in the process of racking his brains to strengthen the club, stuck in the soft underbelly of the championship, far, very far, from its European ambitions. Todd Boelhy is somewhat in the same situation. After buying Chelsea last spring for the modest sum of 4.9 billion euros, the American sees his club floundering in the Premier League, between Crystal Palace and Brentford.

There was, as in Lyon, a change of coach in the first half, but nothing helped. Like Lolo Blanc with the Gones, Graham Potter, who succeeded Thomas Tuchel, cannot straighten out the Blues. So, rather than fire the former Brighton coach after bringing him in for 20 million euros, Todd Boelhy decided to take out the wallet and throw the biftons a bit at random to improve his team. And now, in a few days, Benoît Badiashile, Joao Felix, Mykhailo Mudryk, David Datro Fofana and Andrey Santos have reached London. All for just over 170 million euros.

Young people with very long contracts

A passing madness? Not really. Not satisfied with this flashy recruitment, the one who succeeded Roman Abramovich, pushed to the exit after the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, would be ready to put 75 million euros on Moises Caicedo, the Brighton player, and still a good bundle of tickets on his teammate Leandro Trossard. All this after spending more than 250 million euros this summer for players like Wesley Fofana or Marc Cucurella. And while waiting for Christopher Nkunku this summer.

“The first idea is to bring in players that the coach wants, explains Robert Pratley, Chelsea Social Editor and transfer specialist for the ATA site. Then, the focus will be on young players, young talents, and signing them for a long period, which will become the norm. Benoit Badiashile (21), author of a very good debut against Crystal Palace on Saturday, has signed a seven and a half year contract. One more year for Mykhailo Mudryk (22), the latest nugget of Ukrainian football.

FIFA asks that sports CDDs do not exceed five years, but it also leaves the door open for derogations, informs us Arthur Roudaut, in charge of economic studies at the Center for Sports Law and Economics (CDES). National laws may decide to allow the conclusion of longer contracts between players and clubs. Some countries such as England or Spain thus authorize the signing of contracts of more than five years. »

A Chelsea 2030 plan

Bringing in young people with (very) high potential is not really like a club like Chelsea, which has accustomed us to wanting immediate results. “But the new owner’s strategy has changed,” says Robert Pratley. The leaders have a plan for 2030: to have players who will reach the top on this date so that Chelsea dominate European football for several years. The idea on this date, too, is to create a universe, as the City Group does, to be able to lend players to these clubs, watch over them, that they progress and can come back seasoned. It’s really a long-term policy to succeed in the Premier League but also in Europe. »

The goal is to put an end to the instability that has hit the London club in recent years where, despite titles, it was a bit of chaos in management, with incessant coaching changes and a fluctuating game plan. . Confidence is given, therefore, to Graham Potter to accompany all this beautiful (and rich) world towards success in a few years. “In my opinion, the fans have to accept that there is a new mentality on the part of the owners and that they are going to give time to Potter”, relays Rob Pratley.

Risks with the FPF?

But isn’t this strategy of recruiting at a high price, and at all costs, the nuggets of tomorrow not likely to come up against the formidable (no) and diabolical (no) Financial Fair Play. “On paper, the FPF can be very restrictive for the clubs, but in fact, we realize quite quickly that the sanctions are rarely catastrophic for the clubs, tempers Arthur Roudaut. PSG had spent more than 400 million euros in 2017 to recruit Neymar and Mbappé and got away with it. In addition, the FPF has tended to be reduced in recent years, this was already the case in 2020 with the Covid crisis and this will be even more the case from June. »

Indeed, UEFA will double the authorized deficit over three years (to 60 million euros), but will force clubs to limit their wage bill to 90% of their income in 2023-2024, then 80% and finally 70% from 2025-2026. To this end, Chelsea are considering not extending the contracts of Jorginho or Kovacic and are even insisting, according to The Guardianto get rid of several players, like Sterling or Aubameyang, in order to reduce the wage bill.

The purchase price spread over several years

And, with these (very) long-term contracts signed by the new recruits, “it makes it possible to spread the purchase price, 100 million euros (bonus included) over eight and a half years for Mudryk, that amounts to a little more than ten million euros per year, details Robert Pratley. In addition, with the new owners, the debt has been reduced to zero, there is cash in the reserve, and then we have money with the sales, recently, of Tammy Abraham (40 million) and Fikayo Tomori (30 million), while the club has not been very active in previous transfer windows. »

In any case, adds the head of economic studies, “it’s quite ironic to see that in June 2022 Todd Boehly had declared that Financial Fair Play was an effective weapon for UEFA and that it was not no longer possible to buy players “at any price”, while his club spent 300 million euros the following summer and therefore 150 million euros this winter. ” And it’s not over. Wouldn’t Chelsea be missing a killer striker by any chance?