by Dave Chidgey.
Now the Sky Sports hyped Transfer Window has firmly shut, Chelsea supporters can rest easy and light up the proverbial cigar safe in the knowledge that this summer the club has played a blinder!
In the last few seasons, probably going back to signing Torres for £50m and Luiz for £20m, Chelsea’s dealings in the transfer market had seemed somewhat surreal at best, flawed at worst, buying flashy players with no clear strategy or plan beyond a desire to play a cavalier version of tika-taka.
Those days appear to have been consigned firmly to the dustbin of history. Last year Jose Mourinho stated clearly that Chelsea were not in a position to win the title. We were a few players short, not least up front, and we had a few problem players in problem areas. On the one hand he called Chelsea a little horse, on the other we were a club in transition.
The summer of 2014 may well prove to be as big a landmark in terms of Chelsea’s future success, as the summer of 2003. Jose, together with Michael Emenalo one presumes, has implemented a master plan for the next ten years of football domination.
The obvious hole up front has been plugged with the signing of Diego Costa, but do not underestimate how important the re-signing of Didier Drogba on a free will be in the dressing room. The long term problem of Fernando Torres has also been solved with his loan to AC Milan, getting a very high earner off the books in the process. Hopefully the move will be of huge benefit to both Chelsea and the player. It was also impressive how quickly Chelsea got the talented Loic Remy in to complete the striking triumvirate, for a mere £10.5m it must be said.
In fact the departures from Chelsea are possibly more intriguing than the arrivals. Club legends Lampard and Cole have left, but any potential gaps left in the squad have been filled with the likes of Fabregas (who could prove to be the signing of the season) and Felipe Luis. Demba Ba, David Luiz, and Lukaku (for a staggering combined £82.7m) have been moved on, deemed not good enough for Mourinho’s Chelsea MkII. As a result of the ins and outs, Mourinho will be happy that he now has two high quality players for every position in that squad, a tried and tested strategy for the ‘shrewd one’.
Many commentators criticise Chelsea for the amount of players they have out on loan – 26 at the last count. However, I think in the light of this year’s transfer business, it can be seen as a very smart recruitment strategy and one that fits in well with the new reality of Financial Fair Play. Chelsea has worked hard to identify young talent, buying them relatively cheaply (Pasalic for £3m being a case in point). They are then loaned out so that Chelsea can monitor their development. If they prove good enough they get a chance to make the grade at Chelsea. If not, they are sold on, usually for a substantial profit. This profit is then re-invested in world class players when needed. Whilst some may see this as a sinister ‘hedge fund’ for youth development, the dividends for Chelsea are there for all to see.
The most intriguing aspect of Chelsea’s transfer window is the speed and efficiency with which they have concluded business, and to those who say our spending is the ruination of football, we have one of the lowest net spends in the Premier League this summer. That is positively Arsenal like!
Clearly Chelsea are adapting to the world of Financial Fair Play better than most.
David ‘Stamford Chidge’ Chidgey presents the award winning Chelsea FanCast TV show and podcast which can be seen every Monday at 19.00 on Chelsea FanCast TV or You Tube or heard at mixlr.com/chelsea-fancast/ or downloaded from ITunes. Follow him on twitter @StamfordChidge and @ChelseaFanCast