The 2012 MLS season was one to forget for the Portland Timbers, Colorado Rapids and the Philadelphia Union.
All three sides finished outside the playoffs and many were questioning what direction the teams were heading in.
Fast forward 12 months… and nobody is debating where all three franchises are heading. Appearances in the 2013 MLS playoffs loom, although all three still have a little way to go to cement their spot.
And after a huge rebuilding process at all three teams, it’s hard not to admire all the hard work put in place to turn their fortunes around.
So let’s take a look at where they stand right now and rate their chances of mounting a series challenge for MLS Cup.
1. PORTLAND TIMBERS
When Timbers GM Gavin Wilkinson took over the reigns following John Spencer’s departure, the Timbers were in ruins. Yet 12 months later they’re challenging for the Supporters’ Shield under Caleb Porter. Shrewd trades and transfer, plus Porter’s excellent tactical nous, has seen Portland become of the most exciting teams to watch in the league. Argentine DP Diego Valeri and captain Will Johnson have been at the heart of everything, but Porter has got the most out of the likes of Rodney Wallace, Ryan Johnson and Darlington Nagbe. Yet despite their regular-season dominance, the Timbers Army will want to see a good showing in the playoffs as the Rose City club aims to make the MLS playoffs for the first time since they arrived in the league back in 2011. Safe to say, that monumental goal will be reached this season. The big test will be when the playoffs arrive in PDX.
2. COLORADO RAPIDS
Oscar Pareja’s rebuilding of the Rapids has gone incredibly well this season. But last year many questioned whether or not the long-time FC Dallas assistant coach was the right man for the job. A talented core of rookies and academy prospects has been the overriding success story at Dicks Sporting Goods Park. Teenage defender Shane O’Neill, rookies Dillon Powers, Deshorn Brown and Clint Irwin are the pick of the first year MLS players. Pareja’s side gave up plenty of soft goals in 2012 but now they look solid and composed and goals are flying in from plenty of different names. Brown has seven, Harris has five and Powers has four goals. Having the experience of Edson Buddle and Drew Moor around is vital to the young guns down the stretch. The Rapids are on a roll but the playoff success could be a step too far for Pareja’s youngsters.
3. PHILADELPHIA UNION
John Hackworth’s vision for the Philadelphia Union has come to fruition this season. When he took over from Peter Nowak last year, much like Portland putting Wilkinson in charge, many questioned the ambition of the club. But Hackworth’s previous work with the US national teams at youth level helped Philly to develop their strong core of local talent. Young US players like Jack McInerney, Amobi Okugo, Ray Gaddis and Sheanon Williams to name a few have all excelled for the Union, who currently sit fourth in the East, five points into the playoffs. Like the Rapids they have experience with Chris Albright, Jeff Parke, Conor Casey and Brian Carroll around. That mix will help them stay in the playoff hunt as the end of the season nears. What happens then is anybody’s guess. But the clubs future dream is to have a starting lineup made up of Philadelphia based players, and Hackworth is the right man to nurture and deliver that. The future, for all three of the mentioned franchises, is looking bright.
As for Glasgow Rangers, well, Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side have suffered heavy defeats in their opening two group games as they are struggling massively after being back in the Champions League group stage for the first time in 12 years.
Defensively Liverpool are really struggling and Virgil van Dijk and Trent Alexander-Arnold in particular look way off their usual standards. However, it’s not just about the defense. From front to back Liverpool haven’t matched their usual energy levels so far this season and after so much success over the last few seasons it’s very strange to watch them play this way. As for Glasgow Rangers, they’re hoping to make it difficult for Liverpool and have players who can hurt teams, especially on the counter. This will be a very tough assignment for the Scottish giants but they know they have to get something from these two games in a week against Liverpool to have any chance of keeping their European hopes alive for the rest of this season.
In-form players to keep an eye on
Liverpool’s Luis Diaz has been one of their most consistent players so far this season, while Roberto Firmino scored two at the weekend and goalkeeper Alisson bailed them out against Brighton as they could have easily lost at home. For Rangers, Antonio Colak has scored four goals in his last two league games and he is one to watch in attack.
The lowdown on Rangers
It has not been a great start to the season for Glasgow Rangers either as their arduous path through the UEFA Champions League qualifying rounds impacted their form. They were hammered 4-0 by Celtic in the league and defensively they aren’t as well-organized as they were under Steven Gerrard. Young USMNT duo James Sands and Malik Tillman are options at center back and in an attacking midfield role respectively and both need a big few months if they’re going to get in Gregg Berhalter’s squad for the World Cup. Rangers have some very experienced players in Steven Davis, Alfredo Morales, Allan McGregor and James Tavernier and don’t forget, they reached the UEFA Europa League final last season and could have easily won it. They are the kind of team that can pull off an upset and click for 15-20 minute periods in a game. That will frighten Klopp.
Liverpool team news, injuries, lineup options
Klopp has a few injury issues to contend with as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita remain out, while Andy Robertson and Ibrahima Konate are doubts. Curtis Jones and Calvin Ramsay are out. As for lineup options, Klopp will go with Salah and Firmino in attack but Diogo Jota, Darwin Nunez and Luis Diaz could come in after all three were on the bench at the weekend. In defense it will be intriguing to see if Alexander-Arnold is given a rest and Joe Gomez starts at right back.
Following a busy summer of spending, Todd Boehly and his new ownership group aren’t messing around. After they fired Thomas Tuchel and hired Graham Potter following a slow start to the season, they are already focused on upcoming transfer windows.
Chelsea are eager to refresh and strengthen their expensively assembled squad.
Below we roundup the latest done deals, reports and rumors and give our analysis on Chelsea transfer news as Joe Prince-Wright (JPW), Nicholas Mendola (NM) and Andy Edwards (AE) will guide you through a hectic next few months.
October 3 – Nkunku, Gvardiol deals reportedly close to completion
RB Leipzig duo Christopher Nkunku and Josko Gvardiol are both being lined up to arrive at Chelsea next summer. A report from The Athletic states that Chelsea have offered to pay Leipzig more than Nkunku $60 million release clause (which kicks in next summer) and want to wrap up a deal which would see the 24-year-old French international arrive at Stamford Bridge next summer. The report says that Nkunku has already agreed to the deal, while our partners in the UK at Sky Sports believe the prolific striker (who has already scored six goals in eight Bundesliga games this season) has yet to make up his mind.
Nkunku scored 20 goals last season and added 13 assists as he was named the Bundesliga Player of the Season. His quality is undoubted and he would be a perfect forward addition to Chelsea’s fluid attacking system under Potter. Nkunku learning from Aubameyang, one of the most prolific strikers in the game, is surely a recipe for success. After moving on Timo Werner and Romelu Lukaku this summer, it is clear that Chelsea are keen to freshen up their attack and that could also mean the likes of Christian Pulisic, Kai Havertz and Hakim Ziyech may be surplus to requirements.
At the other end of the pitch a report from the Daily Telegraph suggests that Chelsea are also looking to wrap up a deal to sign Leipzig’s Croatian center back Gvardiol. Per the report, Gvardiol has a release clause close to $45 million and Chelsea are willing to meet it. The 20-year-old is considered to be one of the top center back prospects in Europe and was chased by Chelsea, among many others, this summer. With Wesley Fofana and Kalidou Koulibaly signed up in the summer, Chelsea already have extensive, and quality, options at center back. However, Koulibaly hasn’t played in either of Graham Potter’s two games in charge so far as Thiago Silva, 38, has been preferred. Gvardiol and Fofana are seen as Chelsea’s long-term center back duo. (JPW)
August 31 – Chelsea bids $50M for Mexico’s Alvarez
The report says that Newcastle and Rennes came calling for Alvarez but Ajax would not be moved, but this Chelsea offer has seriously turned the player’s head.
Alvarez, 24, operates as a central defensive midfielder but is not one-dimensional and has spent a little but of time at center back and a bit more more advanced, too.
He’s been a regular starter and will want regular playing time ahead of the World Cup. Chelsea can provide some given injuries and schedule congestion. (NM)
August 31 – Aubameyang to Chelsea, Alonso to Barcelona
According to Fabrizio Romano, Chelsea and Barcelona are locked in talks over deals for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, 33, and Marco Alonso, 31. Aubameyang will have extra medical checks after his jaw was reportedly broken by attackers on his home in Barcelona earlier this week, while Alonso has agreed personal terms with Barca many months ago and has been waiting for the two clubs to agree a fee in a separate deal. (JPW)
Pierre Aubameyang update. The two clubs are in direct contact today as they want to reach an agreement in the next hours — been told that Marcos Alonso is again discussed as part of the deal. 🚨🔵 #CFC
It is officially official, as Wesley Fofana has signed for Chelsea in a transfer fee which is said to be around $80 million. Fofana, 21, has signed a seven-year deal at Chelsea and this signing is a huge boost for Thomas Tuchel, who saw his side lose 2-1 at Southampton on Tuesday. The arrival of Fofana takes Chelsea’s spending to over $290 million this summer, as he joins Raheem Sterling, Kalidou Koulibaly and Marc Cucurella in signing for the Blues. Fofana will add class to Chelsea’s defense and is likely to line up alongside Thiago Silva and Koulibaly. His ability to bring the ball out of the back and start attacks will be crucial to getting Chelsea on the front foot in Tuchel’s preferred 3-4-2-1 system. (JPW)
August 29 – Broja, Gallagher offered to Everton as part of Gordon deal
A report from Football Insider claims that Chelsea have offered Conor Gallagher and Armando Broja, plus $30 million, for Anthony Gordon. The 21-year-old winger scored for the Toffees in their 1-1 draw at Brentford at the weekend and showcased his wonderful speed on the break and his incredible work rate. Gallagher and Broja have worked so hard on loan spells over the years but it just doesn’t seem like they’re gong to become regulars at Chelsea under Thomas Tuchel. They could definitely be stars at Everton and if the Toffees get the duo (permanently or on loan) plus get a good chunk of cash for Gordon, that is a very good deal for them. Gordon is good but Frank Lampard and the Everton board should snap Chelsea’s hand off. (JPW)
August 29 – Fofana in USA to undergo medical
Wesley Fofana, 21, is reportedly in the USA undergoing his Chelsea medical as his transfer from Leicester City edges closer. The Athletic are reporting that Fofana flew to the U.S. on Sunday as Chelsea’s co-owner Todd Boehly wanted extra checks after Fofana fractured his leg at the start of last season. It is believed Chelsea and Fofana have agreed terms on a six-year deal, as the transfer fee with Leicester could rise to almost $88 million. (JPW)
August 29 – Callum Hudson-Odoi heading to Bayer Leverkusen
Callum Hudson-Odoi is heading to Germany, as the England international will join Bayer Leverkusen on loan according to our partners in the UK at Sky Sports. Hudson-Odoi, 21, has struggled to get in to Thomas Tuchel’s plans this season and his career has stalled due to injuries and a loss of form over the last 12 months. The tricky winger will hope playing regularly for Leverkusen, who are in the UEFA Champions League, will get him back to his best and help him make a late push for the England squad ahead of the World Cup this summer. After being linked with Newcastle, Leicester and Southampton, this is a good move for CHO and he will become a key man for Bayer in the Bundesliga. (JPW)
August 29 – Chelsea, Arsenal set to battle for Zaha late in the window
A report from the Guardian says that Chelsea have renewed their interest in Wilfried Zaha as the Crystal Palace winger has less than a year left on his current contract. Zaha, 29, has been linked with Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal on multiple occasions over the years and a report from The Independent says his agent is pushing for a move to Chelsea. The Guardian says that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is still Chelsea’s top target but Zaha is another option.
Zaha is probably the best player in the Premier League outside the top six. His brief spell at Manchester United as a youngster didn’t work out but he’s been consistently excellent for Palace and the South London club would be devastated to lose him. However, he has less than a year left on his contract so if they’re going to get anything for him, now is the time. Previously Palace wanted $90 million for Zaha, which is understandable given that he’s the focal point of their attack and one of the main reasons they’ve stayed in the Premier League consistently over the last eight seasons.
Chelsea are on the lookout for players who can provide more of a cutting edge in attack and Zaha definitely does that, while his pace, directness and trickery on the counter could give Thomas Tuchel exactly what he needs. Per the report from The Independent, Arsenal are also said to be interested in Zaha (they are chasing Pedro Neto from Wolves but he could prove too difficult to sign) as Mikel Arteta wants to sign one more attacking players before the window shuts. (JPW)
August 26 – Breakthrough in Fofana deal?
It seems like Chelsea and Leicester City have finally agreed a fee for Wesley Fofana, as The Athletic believe an agreement is in place. Chelsea badly want, and need, a new center back and Fofana, 21, will be perfect for their system and style of play. He has been left out of training at Leicester in recent days after having his head turned and on the eve of Chelsea hosting Leicester (Fofana will not be playing) the two clubs have agreed a fee. It is believed that fee will be a world-record for a defender and Fofana is worth it. (JPW)
🚨 Chelsea understood to have reached agreement with Leicester City to sign Wesley Fofana. After a number of bids rejected, believed a deal is now in place between #CFC & #LCFC for 21yo France youth international to switch to Stamford Bridge @TheAthleticUKhttps://t.co/JpG0di4lKI
August 25 – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to Chelsea is close
A report from CBS Sports says that Chelsea and Barcelona are close to agreeing a $21.2 million fee for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The 33-year-old is closing in on a reunion with Thomas Tuchel and a return to London and the Premier League.
Given Barcelona’s financial situation, and their plethora of new attacking talents, letting Aubameyang go makes sense. Chelsea need a clinical finisher to put away the chances Tuchel’s side create game after game and having Auba, Raheem Sterling and Mason Mount in attack is a very good trio. This will give Chelsea’s attack a ruthless edge, which they badly need, and will be a huge boost in their push for a top four finish. (JPW)
August 23 – Chelsea willing to pay $70 million for Anthony Gordon, who wants move
Well, this is only going one way now, isn’t it? Anthony Gordon, 21, has reportedly told Everton he wants to move to Chelsea. According to The Athletic, the Everton academy product has told Frank Lampard and the Everton board he wants to move to Chelsea to play in the Champions League and push for a place in the England squad. Can you blame him? Yes, he is a local lad and is a hero at Everton, but these kind of opportunities only come around maybe once or twice in a players’ career.
Would Gordon fit in at Chelsea? His direct running is something Thomas Tuchel likes from his forwards but the narrow 3-4-2-1 system he plays doesn’t really get the best out of them. See: Pulisic, Christian. Hudson-Odoi, Callum. Werner, Timo. Ziyech, Hakim and so on and so forth. If Everton get $70 million for Gordon, they have also got a lot of cash for a player who has had one decent season in the Premier League. Will it be disappointing to lose him? Of course. But every player has his price and Lampard could use this money to bring in three internationals to strengthen his entire team. As for Chelsea, this suggests that the likes of Ziyech, Hudson-Odoi and maybe Pulisic may all move on as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is expected to arrive in the coming days’ too. (JPW)
🚨 EXCL: Anthony Gordon has told Everton + Frank Lampard he wants to join Chelsea. 21yo keen to play CL & boost WC chances. #EFC made aware #CFC ready to pay £50m+10m but nothing agreed; still want to keep him & need a replacement if he goes @TheAthleticUKhttps://t.co/MtuituPM0y
August 22 – Chelsea in advanced talks to sign Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has spent just six months out of the Premier League, at Barcelona, and he’s already set to return with Chelsea reportedly in “advanced talks” to bring the 33-year-old former Arsenal captain to Stamford Bridge.
The Blues are sorely missing a center forward to lead the line for Thomas Tuchel’s side, and it appears that a reunion of old friends (Aubameyang played two and a half seasons under Tuchel at Borussia Dortmund) is the solution that new owner Todd Boehly has worked out. (AE)
August 19 – Wesley Fofana asks to be left out of Leicester squad amid Chelsea interest
Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers is expected to leave Wesley Fofana out of his matchday squad when the Foxes face Southampton on Saturday, as the 21-year-old center back tries to force through a transfer to Chelsea. The Blues have had two previous bids for the Frenchman rejected, but new owner Todd Boehly has thus far been undeterred. This isn’t quite the point of no return for Fofana, but the developing saga is trending that direction. (AE)
August 18 – Chelsea set to make first Aubameyang bid
Chelsea are set to step up their pursuit of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, as a meeting is scheduled to discuss doing a deal for Aubameyang. Per the report from Fabrizio Romano, Chelsea will soon make their opening bid to Barcelona for Aubameyang as the 33-year-old is a top target in the final weeks of the transfer window.
Aubameyang is loved by Thomas Tuchel and was lethal when he played up front for him at Borussia Dortmund. In fairness, Aubameyang has been lethal pretty much wherever he’s played. Barcelona boss Xavi is said to want to keep Aubameyang but given Barca’s financial situation, if a good offer comes in from Chelsea they may sell the Gabonese striker. For Chelsea, this is exactly what they need, as their draw at home against Tottenham proved their need for a clinical forward. (JPW)
Pierre Aubameyang deal. Meeting in the next hours, scheduled since last Sunday – main focus will be on the personal terms. Lenght of contract and salary will be discussed today with Chelsea. 🚨🔵 #CFC
August 16 – Everton reject $54 million bid from Chelsea for Anthony Gordon
This is getting quite repetitive, isn’t it? Chelsea really want to sign Gordon, 21, and Everton really don’t want to sell him. The England U21 international is the next big star to come out of Everton’s academy and his importance to the Toffees, especially after losing Richarlison earlier this summer, is clear. According to our partners in the UK at Sky Sports, Chelsea have upped their bid to over $54 million but that still isn’t enough as Everton rejected it and don’t want to sell their prized asset. This will likely end in Chelsea offering over $65 million for Gordon, who has a couple of decent seasons in the PL and shown plenty of promise, and Everton accepting that. As much potential as Gordon has, that price would be enough for Frank Lampard to buy two proven internationals to replace him and strengthen elsewhere, probably up front. (JPW)
August 15 – Everton reject $48.2-million bid from Chelsea for Anthony Gordon
According to multiple reports out of the UK, Chelsea offered Everton $48.2 million for 21-year-old midfielder Anthony Gordon, the breakout star and a rare bright spot in the Toffees’ 2021-22 season, but the Blues were swiftly rejected with a further bid expected in the not-so-distant future.
It would appear that, under the direction of new owner Todd Boehly, Chelsea have made it a priority to target young English talent in the transfer market. Less than two weeks ago, the Blues paid as much as $24.1 million to sign 18-year-old Carney Chukwuemeka from Aston Villa. Now, the reported bid for Gordon. It’ll get rather expensive paying the domestic-talent premium for too many more young Lions, but it’s clear that Boehly and Co., are taking a long-range view of Chelsea’s future rather than focusing solely on the here and now. We’ll see how Thomas Tuchel feels about that, if he doesn’t get all the signings he feels he needs before transfer deadline day. (AE)
August 11 – Frenkie de Jong, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang pursuit continues
Chelsea continued to be linked with moves for Barcelona duo Frenkie de Jong and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Our partners in the UK at Sky Sports say that De Jong, 25, is open to a move to Chelsea as they play in the Champions League. Per the report, Chelsea will match the $87 million bid Manchester United for Frenkie de Jong earlier this summer. However, the issue remains that De Jong is owed over $20 million in deferred wages and Barcelona also want him to take a pay cut if he is to stay at the Nou Camp. Hence a few reasons why he could be on the move. But seriously, who knows what is going to happen at Barcelona from one day to the next right now!?
When it comes to Aubameyang, there is definitely interest from both parties as the Gabonese striker, 33, has fallen down the pecking order at Barcelona after the summer arrivals of Robert Lewandowski and Raphinha. Aubameyang has three years left on his Barcelona contract but is said to be open to a return to the Premier League and London. He thrived under current Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel when the duo worked together at Borussia Dortmund and you can see him slotting in very nicely as the lone forward in Chelsea’s 3-4-2-1 formation. As for De Jong, well, Chelsea’s priority is to sign a center back but with Jorginho and N’Golo Kante coming towards the twilight of their careers, De Jong is a very similar player and would slot in very nicely to safeguard the future of Chelsea’s midfield. (JPW)
August 8 – Leicester, Southampton, Borussia Dortmund lining up for want-away winger Callum Hudson-Odoi
Callum Hudson-Odoi believes the writing is on the wall regarding his Chelsea career: If he has not yet convinced Thomas Tuchel he should be a more important figure in the team, he is not likely to ever do so, therefore a move away is required. Fortunately for the 21-year-old, he won’t be without plenty of options. According to a report from the Guardian, Southampton are interested in a loan move, while Leicester and Borussia Dortmund are keen to sign Hudson-Odoi permanently. Dortmund previously sought a loan for Hudson-Odoi last summer. Chelsea previously rejected bids of more than $25 million from Bayern Munich prior to Tuchel’s arrival at the club. (AE)
August 6 – Chelsea expected to make world-record bid for Wesley Fofana
Now, this is getting out of hand, isn’t it? Wesley Fofana, 21, is a very good center back and is a star of the future. But according to the Guardian, Chelsea are willing to pay a world-record $102 million to sign Fofana. That would be a world-record fee for a defender. It would surpass what Manchester United paid for Harry Maguire and what Liverpool paid for Virgil van Dijk. There is, of course, a Premier League premium on this deal and Leicester City also say they don’t need to sell Fofana. They probably don’t but if Fofana is open to the move, which reports suggest he is, then the Foxes should probably snap up this fee as they h ave Jonny Evans, Jannik Vestergaard and Caglar Soyuncu around at center back and can use the money to significantly improve their squad (which they need to do after not signing a single player this summer).
When it comes to Chelsea, are they overpaying for players this summer? Marc Cucurella, Raheem Sterling and Kalidou Koulibaly have all arrived for huge transfer fees and it seems like Chelsea’s new owners are paying somewhat of a premium because they are, well, Chelsea’s new owners. Todd Boehly is getting a lot of stick for paying over the odds and only time will tell if Cucurella, Fofana and Co. are worth these huge transfer fees. The focus at Chelsea will likely now be on selling players and they will have to move on a lot of fringe players to offset this huge spending spree. (JPW)
Chelsea are willing to go to £85m for Fofana and believe that would be enough to get him. Would take their spending over £200m and could be more beyond that (FDJ, Casadei, Auba targeted). So are they going to be able to make anything back on sales? #cfc
August 5 – Chelsea make new bid of $84.5 million for Leicester defender Wesley Fofana
Chelsea remain undeterred in their pursuit of Leicester center back Wesley Fofana, who is now the subject of an $84.5-million bid by the Blues, according to a report. Brendan Rodgers has insisted the 21-year-old is not for sale, but new Chelsea owner Todd Boehly is expected to return with an even bigger bid if the latest offer is rejected. Interesting negotiating strategy, that, but it’ll likely result in Chelsea getting what they want in the end. (AE)
Chelsea's latest bid for Wesley Fofana is over £70m and won't be the last one made if rejected. Brendan Rodgers again said Fofana isn't for sale, but Todd Boehly means business. Fofana is Chelsea's number one target between now and when window shuts.
August 5 – Marc Cucurella signs for Chelsea in reported $75 million deal
One of the biggest shock signings of the summer has been completed, with Spanish left back Marc Cucurella signing for Chelsea from Brighton for a reported $75 million fee ($66 million up front, with $9 million in add ons). Cucurella, 24, looked set to join Manchester City for most of the summer but the reigning PL champs baulked at the price Brighton wanted for him. So in stepped Chelsea. They have also sent promising young defender Levi Colwill to Brighton on loan as part of the deal.
As for Cucurella, his rise has been meteoric. He had a phenomenal season at Brighton in 2021-22 after arriving from Getafe last summer and he is a superb attacking left back who will perfectly slot into Chelsea’s 3-4-2-1 as a left wing-back. Marcos Alonso is expected to move to Barcelona after this deal was confirmed and Cucurella and Ben Chilwell will battle it out for the starting spot at Chelsea. There’s a lot of talk about Chelsea overpaying for Cucurella, especially when they already have Chilwell, and there’s logic in that. He is a quality player, though, and Chelsea now need to sign a couple of center backs and probably another striker and this will have been a very good window for them. (JPW)
August 4 – Cesar Azpilicueta sticking around, Cucurella removed from Brighton training
Longtime Chelsea leader and captain Cesar “Dave” Azpilicueta is not going back to Spain after all.
The Osasuna academy graduate who then went to Marseille before moving to the Premier League was expected to sign for Barcelona but things have been drawn out when it comes to Barca opening up room for wages.
It’ll be a two-year contract for Azpilicueta according to several reports but Chelsea has not yet announced the move. It does feel right that the 32-year-old defender remain at Stamford Bridge deeper into his career, if not to the finish line.
Meanwhile, Football.London says that Brighton manager Graham Potter has removed Marc Cucurella from first-team training amid reports of a fee agreement with Chelsea.
Now that agreement has been denied by Brighton, but it does make it seem like Cucurella is moving closer to getting his transfer request. Keep an eye on this space. (NM)
August 4 – Chelsea considering Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang deal
According to the Daily Telegraph, Chelsea are considering a move for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The 33-year-old joined Barcelona in January but given the financial restrictions at Barca, plus the fact that they continue to sign new players, it appears that the Catalan club are offering up the Gabonese superstar. Why? Well, it is all about money. Per the report, Aubameyang’s wages will rise next year and Barcelona want to avoid paying that.
Would Aubameyang be a good fit for Chelsea? He would fit their system and we know he’s a great finisher. Aubameyang could also add plenty of experience to a very youthful attack and if he’s happy and teams are playing to his strengths. Thomas Tuchel will be wary of Aubameyang potential throwing his toys out of the pram like he did at Arsenal but the player and coach know each other extremely well from their time together at Borussia Dortmund, which was hugely successful for Auba.
With Kalidou Koulibaly coming in at center back, Chelsea have proved they are willing to sign winners, leaders and experienced stars to balance their largely youthful squad. Aubameyang fits the bill but the jury may be out as to whether he can fit into their fluid 3-4-2-1 system as the lone forward. (JPW)
August 4 – Carney Chukwuemeka signs
It’s official: one of the top midfield prospects in the game has joined Chelsea from Aston Villa. Carney Chukwuemeka, 18, left Villa with less than a year left on his contract and Chelsea have pounced to sign the central midfielder. Chukwuemeka is expected to go straight into Thomas Tuchel’s first team squad and once again Chelsea are putting faith in youth. (JPW)
August 2 – Chelsea agree personal terms, $60.7-million transfer fee for Marc Cucurella
Marc Cucurella’s transfer from Brighton to Chelsea is nearing completion after all involved parties agreed terms with one another on Wednesday. According to Fabrizio Romano, Chelsea will pay $60.7 million to Brighton, who will also receive a top prospect, 19-year-old defender Levi Colwill, in the exchange. Colwill was a standout performer for nearly-promoted Championship side Huddersfield Town last season, as he appeared in 29 league games as a teenager. Manchester City, who previously made a run at signing the 24-year-old Cucurella, weren’t willing to go up to $60 million in their negotiations, let alone with a first team-ready prospect also included. (AE)
Marc Cucurella to Chelsea, here we go! Full agreement in place between Chelsea and Brighton for more than £50m. Levi Colwill on the verge of joining Brighton soon. 🚨🔵 #CFC
August 2 – USYNT GK Slonina, England’s Chukwuemeka sign
Chelsea has added a pair of highly-rated teenagers this Tuesday.
USMNT goalkeeper Gabriel “Gaga” Slonina will carry a bit more interest in America, where the teenager has been unveiled by Chelsea on a six-year deal that includes a loan back to Chicago for the rest of the MLS season [ More info here ]
Then there’s England youth international Carney Chukwuemeka, the 18-year-old who was willing to run down his contract at Aston Villa. Rather than lose him for nothing in next summer, Steven Gerrard’s Villans have sold Chukwuemeka to the Blues for a reported $24 million. Not a bad return. (NM)
August 1 – Marc Cucurella in shock move?
Marc Cucurella’s move to Manchester City appears to have collapsed as the reigning Premier League champs won’t up their offer. But that doesn’t mean the Spanish left back won’t be playing in the Champions League this season… A report from the Daily Mail says that Chelsea are ready to sign Cucurella and will offer cash plus promising center back Levi Colwill. Other reports have since stated that talks between Chelsea and Brighton are advanced. With Chelsea set to let Marcos Alonso and Cesar Azpilicueta move on this summer, they need defensive reinforcements and this could be a good deal for all involved. Cucurella has told Brighton he wants to move but Man City aren’t willing to pay what Brighton want for him (close to $60 million) so it appeared he would not get his dream move and would stay at Brighton and be unhappy. However, this could be a very good compromise. (JPW)
Chelsea are pushing to hijack Marc Cucurella deal! Direct talk today with Brighton – Levi Colwill could be part of the negotiation. 🚨🔵 #CFC
August 1 – Blues pushing to sign Frenkie de Jong ahead of Man United
A report from Sport in Spain says that Chelsea are pushing hard to sign Frenkie de Jong from Barcelona. Per the report, Chelsea will also sell Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso to Barcelona and then spend $82 million on the Dutch midfielder. De Jong, 25, has been linked with a move to Manchester United all summer long but doesn’t appear to be keen on playing for a team not in the UEFA Champions League. Chelsea are of course in the Champions League and with N’Golo Kante and Jorginho coming towards the end of their careers, Thomas Tuchel needs to look to the future. The report also says Barca will make a move for Bernardo Silva if they sell De Jong, as the Catalan club have spoken glowingly about the Man City and Portugal star over the last few months.
As for De Jong, his sublime control on the ball and positioning would be pretty perfect for Chelsea’s 3-4-2-1 system. He and Mateo Kovacic could hold things down together for the next five years. Now, the main issue is whether or not De Jong wants to leave Barcelona. Up to now he’s said he’s very happy at Barca but club president Joan Laporta and his manager Xavi continue to put pressure on him. Both keep saying they don’t want to sell him but they also mention the ‘economic situation’ as reports suggest Frenkie de Jong is being asked to take a wage cut, even though he is reportedly owed close to $20 million in wage deferrals from 2020. If Chelsea pip Manchester United to signing Frenkie de Jong then Erik ten Hag will not be a happy man as he will lose out on the player he wants to build his midfield around, while a top four rival will also be strengthened. (JPW)
July 31 – Chelsea “working on deals” for defenders Wesley Fofana, Denzel Dumfries
Chelsea’s interest in Leicester City center back Wesley Fofana was first reported this week, and the Blues have reportedly decided to press forward in their pursuit of the 21-year-old Frenchman (not yet capped at senior level for France). A deal won’t come cheap for Chelsea, though, as David Ornstein reported on Sunday that Leicester value Fofana at $100 million, give or take a few million either way. Fofana burst onto the Premier League scene as a 19-year-old in his first season with the Foxes before suffering a broken leg on the eve of the 2021-22 season, keeping him out of action from August to mid-March.
Inter Milan right back Denzel Dumfries is another name reportedly high atop Thomas Tuchel’s shopping list, with captain Cesar Azpilicueta set to turn 33 later this month and frequently linked with a move away from Stamford Bridge. The 26-year-old Dutch international (35 caps) joined Inter last summer and won the Coppa Italia in his first season at the San Siro. (AE)
July 27 – Chelsea interested in Wesley Fofana
Our partners in the UK at Sky Sports are reporting that Chelsea are interested in Leicester City center back Wesley Fofana. The French defender, 21, missed most of last season after breaking his leg in preseason but is highly-regarded as one of the top young defenders in Europe under the age of 22. Fofana only recently signed a new two-year contract extension at Leicester and it would take a pretty massive offer to sign him. Chelsea are desperate for central defenders, though, as Kalidou Koulibaly has arrived this summer but they lost Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger on free transfers to Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively.
With the future of Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso still up in the air amid interest from Barcelona, plus long-term target Jules Kounde looking likely to sign for Barcelona instead of Chelsea, Thomas Tuchel has cut a frustrated figure in recent weeks, especially after their 4-0 friendly defeat to Arsenal. He wants his squad to be settled heading into the opening weekend of the new season but that seems very unlikely. Fofana would be a good signing for Chelsea. His quality is clear for all to see and he would slot in well to the 3-4-2-1 system and is very comfortable on the ball and coming out of the back to start attacks. Leicester would ask for a huge transfer fee for him as they know Chelsea are getting pretty desperate, but the fee could be one worth paying as Chelsea are running out of time, and options. (JPW)
July 26 – Denzel Dumfries, center backs now top of Chelsea’s list
Thomas Tuchel isn’t happy with the amount of players Chelsea have been able to sign this summer and now that it appears that Jules Kounde will be heading to Barcelona instead of Stamford Bridge, the race to sign defenders is well and truly on. A report from 90min says that Pau Torres, Josko Gvardiol and Milan Skriniar are three center back options Chelsea are looking at closely, while Bayern Munich duo Dayot Upamecano and Benjamin Pavard could also be options. Torres and Pavard seem the most likely signings for Chelsea from that lengthy list of defenders as Tuchel needs reinforcements in defense for Chelsea to have any chance of mounting a serious title challenge this season. Right now, Chelsea will line up with Thiago Silva, Kalidou Koulibaly and probably Cesar Azpilicueta at center back for the opening day of the season in their 3-4-2-1 formation. However, Azpilicueta could leave for Barcelona but if the Catalan club sign Jules Kounde ahead of Chelsea that could actually scupper Azpilicueta’s move to Barcelona.
If Azpilicueta does move on then Denzel Dumfries will likely arrive at right wing-back, with the Dutch international said to be Chelsea’s main target for that position according to the London Evening Standard. The Inter Milan defender, 26, could play as the right wing-back in the 3-4-2-1 formation and Reece James could switch to be the right-sided center back for Chelsea. That could solve their center back issue, at least in the short-term, as Chelsea will likely bring in a new central defender (or two) before the transfer window shuts on September 1. Things are getting very interesting for Tuchel and the new Chelsea owners as deals need to be completed fast if they’re going to seriously compete for trophies this season. (JPW)
July 26 – Timo Werner could leave Chelsea
Fabrizio Romano has indicated that Timo Werner could leave Chelsea this summer, with Juventus and RB Leipzig linked with a move for the German international. Werner’s comments during preseason upset Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel, as the striker revealed he could be happy at whatever club he was playing at. After struggling for goals, and minutes, during the 2021-22 campaign, Werner’s playing time could be reduced further this season after the arrival of Raheem Sterling. Werner, 26, is loved by Chelsea fans for his work rate but he has scored just 10 goals in 56 Premier League games over the last two seasons and 23 goals in 89 appearances in all competitions. He has been guilty of snatching at big chances and not being clinical enough in front of goal.
Another report from Bild in Germany states that Newcastle want to sign Werner. Heading to Newcastle or back to Leipzig seems like a very good move for Werner, with the former probably his best bet. In the right system he will cause havoc but Chelsea’s 3-4-2-1 formation just doesn’t suit his style of play and he is much better in a team that plays two up front or a traditional 4-3-3 where wide players are forwards. Werner wants to lock in his spot in Germany’s World Cup roster and playing regularly has to be his aim between now and November. He isn’t going to get that at Chelsea as Sterling, Kai Havertz, Christian Pulisic, Mason Mount and Hakim Ziyech all appear to be ahead of him in the pecking order for the three attacking roles. (JPW)
Timo Werner could really leave Chelsea this summer. He's one of the names in Juventus list alongside Allegri's priority Morata – was already discussed during negotiations for de Ligt. 🔵 #CFC@SkySport
July 25 – Jules Kounde to Chelsea in trouble with Barcelona back in pursuit
Since the last update of the quickly escalating Jules Kounde transfer saga, Barcelona have been out of the race, only to re-ignite and resume their pursuit of the 23-year-old French international. Given Barcelona’s ongoing financial troubles, Sevilla $65-million asking price was simply a bridge too far, until Barca sold another percentage of their La Liga television rights, and suddenly they’re (reportedly) back in the mix. Coincidence? Who knows with them, but it could be Chelsea set to fail in their bid to complete a third major signing this summer, to go with new boys Raheem Sterling and Kalidou Koulibaly. (AE)
July 22 – Chelsea submit official paperwork for Kounde, but the saga takes another twist
Fabrizio Romano has confirmed multiple reports that Chelsea have submitted official paperwork to Sevilla with a fee of over $65 million agreed and personal terms agreed with Jules Kounde. So, what is the hold up here? It is basically the final signatures on everything and it appears that Kounde is waiting to see whether or not Barcelona (who have sold even more of their TV rights to raise cash) make a late bid to sign him.
An added wrinkle is that Kounde has actually turned up for Sevilla’s preseason training camp, which was unexpected. Per reports, Barca will not be able to offer Sevilla the same price as Chelsea for Kounde, so it seems like this could get drag on if Kounde prefers to move to Barcelona. Kounde, 26, would be a key signing for Chelsea as Thomas Tuchel needs to bolster his defense ahead of the new season. (JPW)
Chelsea have sent paperworks to Sevilla for Koundé deal during the night, pushing to get it over the line. Details after bid on Wednesday: £55m deal, 5 year contract. 🚨🔵 #CFC
This is developing rather quickly, isn’t it? According to a report from The Sun, Chelsea have agreed to pay Sevilla’s asking price of $66 million for Jules Kounde. Per the report, the French defender has agreed personal terms, has spoken with Thomas Tuchel and he could even be present in the U.S. for the final few days of their preseason tour. This would be another massive coup for Chelsea and is exactly what they needed under their new ownership. With Raheem Sterling and Kalidou Koulibaly signed over the last seven days, Kounde’s arrival adds quality and a long-term replacement for outgoing club legend Cesar Azpilicueta. (JPW)
July 19 – Battle for Kounde intensifies
A report from Marca in Spain states that Chelsea have made an opening offer of $57 million for Jules Kounde, but the La Liga club want at least $67 million for the French international. Per the report, Kounde and Chelsea have already agreed personal terms over a transfer so this could all move very quickly when/if Sevilla get the price they want.
Chelsea and Barcelona both want to sign Kounde but the latter continue to struggle with balancing the books even though they are signing a lot of new players this summer. Kounde, 23, is a perfect fit for Thomas Tuchel’s 3-4-2-1 system and Chelsea have been trying to sign him for over a year. However, Barca want Kounde to be the center-piece of a new-look defense and if they can financially get a deal done, it seems like a move which could happen. After Koulibaly arrived and with Presnel Kimpembe linked with a move to Stamford Bridge, Tuchel is upgrading his entire defensive unit and Chelsea need to do this if they want to remain in the Premier League’s top four, at the very least, this season. (JPW)
July 18 – Push to sign Kimpembe, Kounde is on
So, yeah, Chelsea are having a right go in this transfer window, aren’t they? And they needed too, especially defensively. According to this report from Fabrizio Romano the Blues have now gone back in for Sevilla and France center back Jules Kounde and are trying to seal a deal for Presnel Kimpembe too, with multiple outlets stating Chelsea have made a $48 million bid to PSG for Kimpembe.
Focusing on Kounde, Chelsea chased the 23-year-old over the last few transfer windows and now that Barcelona appear to be trying to sign him, Chelsea are going back in. With Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen leaving this summer, plus Cesar Azpilicueta’s future uncertain, Tuchel needs reinforcements at center back. With Kalidou Koulibaly already arriving and Thiago Silva around he has plenty of experience, but the moves for Kounde and 26-year-old Kimpembe proves they are also trying to sign players who will be the heart of their defense for the next four to five years.
Both would be a very good fit for Tuchel’s 3-4-2-1 system and imagine if Chelsea have Kounde, Koulibaly and Kimpembe starting at center back this season with Thiago Silva around to slot in when needed? That would be sublime. Having mobile and aggressive center backs who are calm on the ball is key to the way Tuchel wants his teams to play and he knows Kimpembe well from his time at PSG. With the midfield pretty much set, plus Raheem Sterling added to the attack, strengthening the defense is key for Chelsea in the final six weeks of the window. (JPW)
Chelsea have re-activated contacts for Jules Koundé last week as Nathan Aké is no longer available. Barcelona have to be fast now, after discussing Kounde’s contract for long time. 🇫🇷 #CFC
Chelsea trying for both Koundé and Kimpembé – Colwill, waiting to understand his future.
It appears that Albania and Chelsea striker Armando Broja could be heading to West Ham, as the Hammers are willing to pay up to $36 million to sign him permanently. Broja, 20, impressed on loan at Southampton last season and the powerful forward has been wanted by a host of teams on a permanent deal this summer and the Guardian believe Broja doesn’t want another loan move but is pushing to sign somewhere permanently.
Per our partners in the UK at Sky Sports, Broja will travel back to the UK after only just arriving on Chelsea’s preseason tour of the U.S. as he has a small injury but has also told the club he wants to move. Everton may match any offer from West Ham, while Newcastle and Southampton are also said to be interested. If Broja does sign for David Moyes’ side, it makes sense for all involved. The Hammers need plenty of additions in attack to help ease the burden on Michail Antonio and this should be a good move for Broja too. He will play in the UEFA Conference League and make a step up from a midtable team in Southampton to a team like West Ham who will once again hope to push into the top six of the Premier League. He isn’t going to play much at Chelsea this season as Tuchel seems to be fine with having Kai Havertz, Raheem Sterling and Timo Werner as his center forward options. (JPW)
July 16 – Koulibaly completes Chelsea move
The Senegal defender has completed his move from Napoli to Chelsea and there are some great photos of him being unveiled in Las Vegas as he links up with Thomas Tuchel’s side on their U.S. tour. Koulibaly, 31, is exactly the kind of center back Chelsea needed to rebuild their defense and Tuchel has added real quality in Koulibaly and Sterling. Who’s next? Probably another few defenders with Presnel Kimpembe and Jules Kounde targeted. Koulibaly is perfect for the 3-4-2-1 formation and will replace Antonio Rudiger as the commanding force in the Chelsea defense who will step out and be aggressive. Koulibaly and Thiago Silva have plenty of experience and it will be intriguing to see who Thomas Tuchel lines up alongside them this season. (JPW)
So, is this actually going to happen!? It seems like this deal for 18-year-old USMNT goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina has dragged on and on, but there is no real rush on either side as Slonina will be heading back to the Chicago Fire on loan. As we’ve said below, Slonina will eventually head to Chelsea over the next year or so and his next step is to head out on loan in Europe. The American goalkeeper has a very bright future and this is a good move for him to enter the European market and have a huge club like Chelsea handling his development. (JPW)
Gabriel Slonina’s agent Jaime Garcia has informed Chicago Fire that they reached an agreement on personal terms with Chelsea. 🚨🔵 #CFC
CFC will submit official bid and send paperworks, after verbal agreement with Chicago: 10m plus add-ons.
Nathan Ake will not be leaving Manchester City this summer, according to Fabrizio Romano, as the Dutch international is needed by Pep Guardiola. The center back, 27, was linked with a move back to Chelsea but that won’t happen and according to reports, the Blues aren’t delighted about the move stalling late on. With Presnel Kimpembe potentially on his way to partner Kalidou Koulibaly, Chelsea should have plenty of options at center back but probably need one more signing to back-up Thiago Silva and Cesar Azpilicueta (if he stays) as youngster Levi Colwill will also be on the move. (JPW)
Manchester City internal decision: Oleksandr Zinchenko can leave the club, Arsenal are prepared to submit an official proposal. 🚨🇺🇦 #AFC
Nathan Aké stays at the club after talk with Guardiola despite personal terms agreed with Chelsea. #MCFC
July 13 – Chelsea set to sign Koulibaly; Kimpembe, Ake next up
What a signing this will be for Chelsea. Kalidou Koulibaly, 31, is heading to the Blues to bolster their defense. His experience will be vital and he’s the perfect replacement for Antonio Rudiger. This move, coupled with developing deals for Presnel Kimpembe and Nathan Ake, is another huge statement of intent from the new Chelsea ownership. They are revamping their entire defense and adding key attacking players. This is the real deal. (JPW)
Kalidou Koulibaly to Chelsea, here we go! Full agreement in place for €40m fee add-ons completed, bid accepted. Napoli are checking the documents then it will be official. 🚨🔵 #CFC
🚨 Chelsea in talks with Paris Saint-Germain to sign Presnel Kimpembe. #PSG open to 26yo’s exit if valuation met – not happened yet but conversations ongoing. France int’l a key #CFC target at left centre-back. Juventus also in contact @TheAthleticUK#Juvehttps://t.co/5sf488Awxm
The England international has signed for Chelsea after a stellar seven seasons at Manchester City. Sterling will be the main man in attack for Thomas Tuchel and will give him them the clinical edge and pace they need in attack. This is a massive upgrade for Chelsea and proves the ambition of their new owners, as Sterilng will excel in the 3-4-2-1 formation in one of the underneath roles, or even up top as the central striker. (JPW)
A report from the Daily Mail claims that Chelsea have turned their attention to Serge Gnabry after Raphinha appears to be heading to Barcelona. Gnabry, 26, is valued at $53 million by Bayern Munich and the Germany international has just one year left on his contract, with Chelsea reaching out to Bayern about his availability. The silky winger creates and scores goals galore and with Chelsea set to add Raheem Sterling and chasing other forward options, it is clear Thomas Tuchel wants to freshen up his attack. Romelu Lukaku has been loaned out to Inter Milan, Hakim Ziyech could be leaving for AC Milan, while the likes of Christian Pulisic and Timo Werner have also been linked with moves away.
Would Gnabry slot in well at Chelsea? Everything suggests so. He is versatile, clinical in the final third and along with Sterling would give Chelsea’s attacking unit a totally different look. Tuchel prefers to play without a target forward and Sterling and Gnabry could start underneath Havertz, or one of them could even start up top with Mason Mount in the attacking midfield position. Gnabry would give Tuchel flexibility and the German coach loves that from his team. Gnabry doesn’t appear to be closer to agreeing a new contract at Bayern Munich and Chelsea could take advantage of that situation. (JPW)
July 12 – Nathan Ake, Kalidou Koulibaly lined up
According to Fabrizio Romano, Napoli and Senegal center back Kalidou Koulibaly remains on Chelsea’s wish list as they aim to sign new center back. Negotiations for Nathan Ake are continuing too, as Thomas Tuchel looks to rebuild his defense. Matthijs de Ligt seems to be heading to Bayern Munich from Juventus, so Chelsea have given up pursuing the Dutch center back. Koulibaly has a huge contract offer on the table from Napoli but per the report, talks with his agent have continued and he is seen as a key man for the Blues.
David Ornstein is now reporting that Chelsea are even closer to signing Koulibaly for a deal worth over $40 million.
🚨 Chelsea close to agreements on fee + personal terms to sign Kalidou Koulibaly. Not done & Napoli often tricky but talks moving towards ~€40m deal + long-term contract for 31yo. Likes of Kimpembe, Kounde, Ake remain in mix @TheAthleticUK#CFC#SSCNapolihttps://t.co/Izox1JeuN5
How big of a priority is center back for Chelsea? In a word, huge. After losing Antonio Rudiger to Real Madrid and Andreas Christensen to Barcelona on free transfers, captain Cesar Azpilicueta could also be heading to Barca and that leaves Chelsea very short in defense. Ake and Koulibaly would be perfect fits for Chelsea’s 3-4-2-1 system and Koulibaly would be a very good direct replacement for Antonio Rudiger. Koulibaly will be expensive but he does have just one year left on his contract at Napoli and the 31-year-old may feel like now is the time to take his talents to the Premier League after what seems like constant links in every single transfer window of the last five years. (JPW)
July 12 – Gabriel Slonina deal back on?
Just when it looked like USMNT goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina, 18, would not be heading to Chelsea, it appears the deal is back on. According to Fabrizio Romano, a deal for Slonina is back in the works as Todd Boehly is dealing with it personally. The American goalkeeper is regarded as one of the top young prospects in the world and Real Madrid were said to be pushing Chelsea to sign him. Per the report, Slonina will stay at Chicago Fire on loan and the deal will be worth over $10 million plus add ons. It appears that Slonina will be one for the future for Chelsea as Edouard Mendy will be their goalkeeper for many years to come. That said, Slonina could come in as the No. 2 in the next few years and gain valuable experience, plus this move opens up the opportunity to head elsewhere in Europe on loan. (JPW)
Chelsea have reached verbal agreement with Chicago Fire for Gabriel Slonina, after direct talks between Todd Boehly and MLS club. 10m deal plus add-ons, he'd stay at Chicago on loan. 🔵🇺🇸 #CFC
July 12 – Raphinha edging closer to Barcelona move
This really has become a saga but it appears that Raphinha’s move to Barcelona is closer to completion. Fabrizio Romano has said that Leeds have finally accepted a bid from Barca and now the only wait is until the Catalan club can afford to register Raphinha and complete the deal. Raphinha, 25, was wanted by a host of Premier League clubs and it looked like he would join Chelsea after they had a bid accepted. However, his dream has always been to play for Barcelona and the Brazil international looks to have got his move with Chelsea now moving for Raheem Sterling and perhaps another wide forward (see above). As for Raphinha, he will play a key role at Barcelona who are likely to move on plenty of other players this summer as Xavi freshens up his squad. It is quite likely that Raphinha, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Ansu Fati and Ferran Torres will be Barcelona’s main men in attack. (JPW)
July 11 – Manchester United, Arsenal linked with Kante move
Now, N’Golo Kante is still probably in the top three defensive midfielders in the world when he’s fully fit, so why would Chelsea sell him? Kante, 31, has just one year left on his contract at Chelsea and it appears he may be ready for a new challenge. With that in mind, the Daily Star claims that Manchester United want to rival Arsenal to sign Kante this summer. Kante is currently in the UK and not on Chelsea’s preseason tour of the U.S. due to his vaccination status not allowing him to enter the United States of America.
Should Chelsea cash in on Kante now? They will likely get close to $50 million for him if they sold him this summer and the French international struggled increasingly with injuries last season. When he’s fit and firing on all cylinders there are still few defensive midfielders better than him in the world but it seems like Thomas Tuchel wants to freshen up his midfield options with Jorginho also coming towards the end of his contract at Stamford Bridge and plenty of replacements, such as Matheus Nunes and Frenkie de Jong, have been linked with Chelsea in recent weeks. (JPW)
July 6 – Chelsea, Man City reportedly agree Sterling fee
July 6 – Blues set to bid for Sporting Lisbon’s Matheus Nunes
According to a report from A Bola in Portugal, Chelsea are set to bid for Sporting Lisbon midfielder Matheus Nunes. Per the report, Chelsea will bid over $45 million to sign the silky, two-way central midfielder. Could that mean the likes of Jorginho (who was linked with Juventus) may leave Chelsea this summer? Thomas Tuchel and new chairman Todd Boehly — who is also acting as a temporary head of recruitment — are trying to make plenty of moves as they are chasing Nathan Ake, Jules Kounde and Matthijs de Ligt to strengthen their defense, plus chasing deals for Raheem Sterling, Raphinha and Cristiano Ronaldo. Apparently the idea of Nunes heading to Chelsea came up with Jorge Mendes (also Ronaldo’s agent) met with Boehly recently.
What type of player is Nunes? He’s a creative box-to-box midfielder who loves to dictate the tempo of the game and the 23-year-old is regarded as one of the top young midfielders in the game. Is this an area of the pitch Chelsea need to strengthen? Potentially. Jorginho is getting towards the end of his career, Kante was injury prone last season and Mateo Kovacic also had injury issues. Nunes seems to be exactly the kind of midfielder Tuchel likes in his 3-4-2-1 system as he gets on the ball, drives forward, keeps it well and is precise with his passing. (JPW)
July 6 – Chelsea could move for Benjamin Pavard
Benjamin Pavard is reportedly a target for Chelsea, according to the Daily Mirror. And our partners at Sky in Germany believe that the 26-year-old could move on from Bayern Munich this summer after the reigning German champs signed Noussair Mazaroui from Ajax. Per the report Chelsea believe that their main defensive target, Matthijs de Ligt, could be heading to Bayern instead so they are lining up alternatives. As for Pavard, he is a right back primarily but is very comfortable playing anywhere in defense and the French international has an eye for goal and can deliver real quality on the ball going forward.
Pavard is exactly the kind of player who would slot into Thomas Tuchel’s 3-4-2-1 formation seamlessly and this feels like a long-term replacement for Cesar Azpilicueta. Chelsea have been linked with plenty of players in recent weeks as the new ownership have finally arrived at the club and chairman Todd Boehly is trying to get plenty of deals done before the Blues head on their tour of the U.S. this summer. Pavard would be perfect and with Nathan Ake, Prisnel Kimpembe and Jules Kounde all linked with a move to Chelsea, defensive reinforcements are right at the top of Tuchel’s wish-list after Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger moved on this summer. (JPW)
July 6 – Gabriel Slonina’s move to Chelsea appears to be off
It seems like Gabriel Slonina, 18, will not be heading to Chelsea. According to the London Evening Standard, a deal for Slonina to head to Stamford Bridge has been halted. Real Madrid and Wolves have also been linked with a move for the Chicago Fire product, who was close to joining Chelsea in January before sanctions were placed on the club and several key individuals on the recruitment side have since left. Slonina is highly-rated and has already been in the full USMNT squad as he continues to shine in MLS week after week. His future definitely lies in Europe but it seems like he won’t be signing for Chelsea. (JPW)
July 4 – Chelsea once again linked with Cristiano Ronaldo move
A report from The Athletic claims that Chelsea chairman Todd Boehly has been in talks with Jorge Mendes about a potential deal for Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo, 37, has reportedly told United he wants to move on this summer and he did not turn up for the first day of preseason due to ‘family reasons’ as it appears his second spell at Old Trafford is coming to an abrupt end. Per this report, Chelsea are exploring if they could do a deal for Ronaldo but there are apparently some hestitations from Thomas Tuchel about Ronaldo being a good fit for the Blues.
Would this work? Firstly, it would be shocking if Man United sold Ronaldo to a direct top four rival in the Premier League. Why would they do that? Ronaldo is under contract for another season so they would rather keep him against his will for one season rather than strengthen a rival. Secondly, it’s quite clear that Ronaldo would score plenty of goals at Chelsea but would his arrival upset the balance of the squad as it did at United? The second point is wading into muddy waters as Chelsea have had success in bringing in a superstar veteran (Thiago Silva) and if Ronaldo is willing to work with their talented youngsters, he will get plenty of chances to score. Chelsea need a new No. 9 after loaning out Romelu Lukaku and Ronaldo wants to play in the Champions League, which Chelsea are in. On the face of it, this makes sense for everyone aside from Manchester United. That is the big problem. (JPW)
July 4 – Contrasting reports over Chelsea’s push to sign Raheem Sterling
Our partners in the UK at Sky Sports have heard contrasting reports when it comes to Raheem Sterling to Chelsea. One source said a fee is close to being agreed, while another played that down. What we do know is that Thomas Tuchel wants to sign Sterling, 27, and now is probably a good time for him to move on from Man City. Sterling has one year left on his contract at City and Pep Guardiola rotated him in and out of the team more than he would have liked last season. Sterling would be a big upgrade on Chelsea’s current attacking options and Tuchel wants to inject more pace and incisiveness into his attack. Sterling would provide that and even if many believe he should have scored more goals for City, he has still banged in 131 goals in 339 appearances over the last seven seasons and has been ridiculously consistent. (JPW)
July 4 – Christian Pulisic not keen to leave Chelsea despite Juventus interest
Christian Pulisic has a big summer ahead of him as the USMNT star will be thinking long and hard about his future at club level. Should he stay at Chelsea? Should he leave? Where should he go? The latest report on his situation is from The Daily Mail, as they say Christian Pulisic wants to stay at Chelsea despite interest in him from Juventus. Per the report, Pulisic is not keen on a move to Juve.
This follows a report on his future from The Daily Telegraph, as they said that Chelsea have offered Juventus one of Pulisic and Timo Werner, plus cash, for Matthijs de Ligt. Of course, USMNT fans will be hoping whatever happens with Christian Pulisic at Chelsea will be best for the U.S. ahead of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. This is a very tough decision for Pulisic as he could stay at Chelsea but move behind Raheem Sterling, and other potential new signings, in the pecking order. Or he could head somewhere else and it may take him time to settle in too. It really is a 50/50 decision for the American star and it also depends heavily on whether or not Thomas Tuchel plans on giving him a big role this season. (JPW)
June 30 – Blues want to bring back Nathan Ake
Once a Chelsea prospect, Dutch defender Nathan Ake is wanted by Thomas Tuchel for the first team at Stamford Bridge.
The 27-year-old ex-Bournemouth star has not played as much as he’d like at Manchester City but the Premier League champions rate him much higher than the proposed Chelsea bid.
The Blues are said to be willing to offer around $36 million, about half of the reported City valuation. What fee would it take to get City to sell a player to a would-be title rival. If Gabriel Jesus moved to London for $55 million, albeit with less time on his deal, perhaps that’s nearer to the bullseye. (NM)
June 29 – Romelu Lukaku loaned back to Inter Milan
Romelu Lukaku to Inter Milan confirmed: Lukaku’s second spell at Chelsea came to another unceremonious end on Wednesday, when Inter Milan re-signed the Belgian striker on a season-long loan.
This time around, Lukaku scored 15 goals in 44 appearances (all competitions – 8 in 26 in the Premier League), bringing his Chelsea career total to 15 goals. In total, Chelsea have paid roughly $155 million for Lukaku. Quick math says, $10 million per goal. (AE)
June 28 – Chelsea, Leeds reportedly agree fee for Raphinha
The Todd Boehly revolution is well underway at Stamford Bridge, where Brazilian attacker Raphinha is set to arrive from Leeds United.
This, of course, assumes that Chelsea can come to an agreement on a contract with Raphinha, who has also been linked with Barcelona and Arsenal.
Raphinha scored 11 times with three assists for Leeds last Premier League season, a year after scoring six times and adding nine assists following a transfer from Stade Rennais.
What a move this would be for a Chelsea team already loaded with attackers, just the latest sign that no one besides (probably) Kai Havertz and Mason Mount are safe in their status with Thomas Tuchel’s Blues. Timo Werner, Christian Pulisic, and others all could move by the end of the window.
All that said… you still need center backs to contend for a league, too. It’s not even July 1, though, so this transfer season may just be warming up. (NM)
June 27 – Chelsea consider Richarlison bid
Is there a winger Chelsea don’t want to sign this summer!? After being linked with moves for Raheem Sterling and Ousmane Dembele in recent days and weeks, our partners in the UK at Sky Sports are now stating that Chelsea want to rival Tottenham to try and sign Richarlison. The 25-year-old Brazilian is a man in demand and has apparently told Frank Lampard he wants to leave Everton this summer and wants to play in the Champions League. With Chelsea letting Romelu Lukaku leave on loan, plus the likes of Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic all likely to move on this summer, it appears that Thomas Tuchel is seriously freshening up his attack as Chelsea’s new owners try to make a splash.
Would Richarlison to Chelsea make sense? Actually, yes, it would. A lot of sense. Richarlison is a mobile forward who can plan centrally in Chelsea’s 3-4-2-1 formation but he can also play as one of the underneath forwards. If Chelsea signed Richarlison, Sterling and Dembele this summer, then that would be a huge upgrade on their current attacking options and all three players would suit Tuchel very well. Richarlison would probably cost upwards of $65 million, with Sterling slightly less expensive and Dembele is available on a free. If Chelsea move on Ziyech, Werner and Pulisic for decent fees, or even decent loan fees, then this could work out very well. Defensively they still need a couple of new center backs but new chairman Todd Boehly is certainly busy early on at Chelsea as Petr Cech and Marina Granovskaia are both out and he’s taking a leading role in lining up these transfers, at least on an interim basis to start with. (JPW)
June 26 – Thomas Tuchel makes contact with Raheem Sterling
A report from The Telegraph states that Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has reached out directly to Raheem Sterling to discuss a possible move to Stamford Bridge this summer. The England international, 27, could well be surplus to requirements at Manchester City next season and Chelsea need to freshen up their attack. With Romelu Lukaku on his way to Inter Milan, Hakim Ziyech in talks over a loan move to AC Milan and Timo Werner likely leaving too, it’s clear that Tuchel wants to rebalance his attack and Sterling is one of his top targets. Per the report, City value Sterling at $61-73 million and Chelsea will now make a bid after Tuchel spoke directly with the player.
Would this be a good move for both Sterling and Chelsea? Probably. Sterling has been a star at Man City over the last seven seasons but he probably isn’t appreciated as much as he should be and with Erling Haaland and Julian Alvarez arriving this summer at City, the speedy winger will face even stiffer competition for a starting spot. He struggled for minutes a little last season (2127 compared to 2537 in 2020-21) but his quality is clear for all to see. The way he stretches teams on the break and cuts inside would suit Tuchel’s 3-4-2-1 system well, as Sterling could play as the central striker or as one of the two underneath forwards. Sterling has just one year left on his current contract at City and with Gabriel Jesus set to leave this summer for Arsenal, are City going to allow both to move on? Maybe. They have always been pretty good at letting players move on if they want to but Pep Guardiola may feel a little shorthanded if both Sterling and Jesus leave this summer. (JPW)
June 26 – Cristiano Ronaldo linked with shock move to Stamford Bridge
Yes, this is actually a real thing. And yes, Manchester United have denied it could happen. However, there is clearly a bit of a theme rumbling behind-the-scenes here. In the past week there have been reports suggesting Ronaldo is unhappy with the lack of new signings at United, plus there have been reports linking him with a move to Roma, his former club Sporting Lisbon and now Chelsea are said to be interested in signing the Portuguese superstar. According to The Athletic, new Chelsea chairman Todd Boehly discussed the availability of Ronaldo, 37, when he met with ‘super-agent’ Jorge Mendes.
Per the report, Ronaldo was discussed and Chelsea are interested in seeing whether or not he can be temped to west London. Given that he only has one year left on his contract and they’d be strengthening a direct top four rival, United would surely rather keep Ronaldo than sell him to Chelsea this summer. United have since briefed plenty of outlets, including our partners in the UK at Sky Sports, that Ronaldo is not for sale and will not leave this summer.
But would having an unhappy Ronaldo around be a huge problem for Erik ten Hag? Probably. His love for United is undoubted but it is easier to see why he’s so frustrated. Many believe he will not fit into the tactics deployed by ETH but the Dutch coach is said to believe he can. Let’s see how this goes but it seems like Ronaldo’s future is unexpectedly going to be the topic of much discussion this summer. (JPW)
June 25 – Hakim Ziyech to AC Milan?; Tuchel expecting ‘up to six new players to arrive’
A report from our partners at Sky Italy states that Hakim Ziyech could head on loan to AC Milan in a similar deal which will see Romelu Lukaku move to Inter from Chelsea. Per the report, Ziyech is keen on the move and he has been a target for AC Milan for some time. The Moroccan winger has never really settled at Chelsea despite the odd sublime goal and stunning display. With Tuchel looking to freshen up his attack this summer, Ziyech, Werner, Lukaku and even Christian Pulisic appear to be surplus to requirements as Tuchel expects plenty of new arrivals under the new ownership group led by Chelsea chairman Todd Boehly. According to a separate report from The Telegraph the Blues boss expects up to six new players to arrive at Stamford Bridge this summer. With De Ligt, Raheem Sterling, Richarlison and Ousmane Dembele strongly linked with a move to Chelsea, this is going to be a very different looking side, especially in attack. (JPW)
June 25 – Timo Werner part of potential deal for De Ligt?
A report from Di Marzio in Italy suggests that Timo Werner plus $35 million is the offer Chelsea have put forward for Juventus defender Matthijs de Ligt but the Turin club want Werner and closer to $45 million. Per the report both Werner and De Ligt are up for the move, with the Dutch center back set to be the new center-piece of Thomas Tuchel’s defense, while Werner is keen for a fresh start in Italy as his goalscoring woes in the Premier League continue. Would this be a good move for all parties? De Ligt has been much better in recent seasons at Juve but he has struggled at times and perhaps the Premier League would suit his game slightly better. As for Werner, well, he’s beloved by the Chelsea fans for his incredible effort in games but his finishing has really let him down and if he moves on now he can leave with his head held high. (JPW)
June 23 – Matthijs de Ligt transfer would set defender record
Juventus center back Matthijs de Ligt’s $126 million release clause and its expectation not to budge much from the price tag may not stop Chelsea, according to Sky Sports.
The Blues are pursuing the 22-year-old Dutch star, having lost Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen this summer. Chelsea has to address the crew of Thiago Silva, Malang Sarr, and Trevoh Chalobah.
De Ligt cost Juventus about $79 million from Ajax. Amongst defenders, only Virgil van Dijk, Harry Maguire, and Lucas Hernandez have cost more than De Ligt’s transfer fee then and only four players have cost more than his current release clause, which expires in 2024.
Should it happen, this would be huge splash from new chairman Todd Boehly? (NM).
June 21 – Chelsea linked with Richarlison
It appears that Richarlison is a man in demand this summer as The Daily Mail reports that Chelsea are set to battle with Tottenham and Arsenal for his signature. The 25-year-old looks likely to leave Everton and it is believed that Thomas Tuchel is a big fan of the Brazilian international. With Romelu Lukaku on his way out, plus doubts over whether or not Christian Pulisic, Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner will stick around, Chelsea are set to freshen up their attacking options. They’ve already been linked with moves for Raheem Sterling and Ousmane Dembele this summer and bringing in a wide forward who is comfortable cutting inside seems a priority.
Richarlison can certainly do that and given his experience in the Premier League and his tenacity and work-rate, he seems like a very good fit for Tuchel’s 3-4-2-1 system at Chelsea as he could play up top or in one of the two underneath positions. The transfer fee is going to be sizeable (probably $60-70 million) but Richarlison has been consistent at Everton and there’s reason to believe he will create and score plenty of goals in a team who are on the front-foot more often. (JPW)
June 21 – West Ham set to bid $37 million for Armando Broja
According to our partners in the UK at Sky Sports, West Ham are set to bid $37 million to sign young Chelsea and Albania striker Armando Broja. The 20-year-old had a very solid season on loan at Southampton last season as he scored nine goals in all competitions and showed plenty of promise despite playing in a team which struggled to create plenty of chances. Broja may be needed at Chelsea this season as they look set to sell Romelu Lukaku, but per the report the likes of Newcastle, Arsenal and Napoli also want to sign the powerful striker. West Ham seems like a very good fit for Broja as he would compete with Michail Antonio for minutes and the pair could be rotated as the Hammers have the Europa Conference League and Premier League to juggle. Broja is good on the counter, deceptively quick and is very aggressive and that suits West Ham’s style under David Moyes very well. (JPW)
June 19 – Chelsea want to sign Raheem Sterling
The Blues are getting going in the transfer market and a report from our partners in the UK at Sky Sports states that Chelsea want to sign Raheem Sterling. Per the report, it would take a bid of over $73 million for City to let Sterling go this summer. The England forward, still just 27 years old, is out of contract next summer and it seems like he could be set for a move this summer.
Would this be a good move for Chelsea, and Sterling? It seems like a pretty good fit and if Chelsea can drive down the price a little, they will go all-in for Sterling. That said, City could be selling to potential title rivals so they will want a big transfer fee.
Sterling is not really and out-and-out winger and Tuchel doesn’t like to play with pure wingers in his 3-4-2-1 system. He would be very good on the left of the two forwards underneath a central striker and he loves to cut inside and cause havoc. Even though Sterling gets a bad rep for missing big chances he has still scored 62 goals in all competitions for Man City over the last three seasons. That’s 20 goals per season and Chelsea need someone what that production in their forward line as Christian Pulisic, Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech have all struggled to stay fit and in-form. With Erling Haaland arriving this summer at City, Sterling could well struggle for playing time this season at City and he has been in and out of the team over the last 12 months. He could play centrally at Chelsea, as the report suggests, and Tuchel is said to be a big fan of Sterling. Add in all of that to the fact that Sterling grew up in west London and his family connections are in the area and it all kind of makes sense, right? (JPW)
June 11 – USMNT goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina chased by Chelsea, Real Madrid
According to Fabrizio Romano, a potential deal for USMNT goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina, 18, is entering ‘important hours’ as Chelsea and Real Madrid are the frontrunners to sign him. The Chicago Fire goalkeeper has been a Chelsea target for many months and now they have their ownership situation figured out, they can start trying to sign players once again.
Should Slonina sign for Real or Chelsea? He’s not going to play for either team regularly but it would allow him to develop next to some of the best goalkeepers in the world and also go out on loan in Europe to gain valuable experience. (JPW)
Important hours ahead for Gabriel Slonina transfer. Real Madrid made official bid turned down by Chicago Fire last week – but Chelsea are also in talks to sign him, after being really close last February 🚨🇺🇸 #CFC
June 10 – Four players join Antonio Rudiger in leaving Chelsea as free agents
Andreas Christensen, Charly Musonda, Danny Drinkwater and Jake Clarke-Salter have all left Chelsea as free agents. After Antonio Rudiger left as a free agent and signed for Real Madrid, this quartet were also expected to leave at the end of their deals. Chelsea had been keen to keep Danish center back Christensen around but he is expected to join Barcelona this summer.
If that move doesn’t happen due to Barca’s financial situation, Christensen will not be short of options. With the futures of Cesar Azpilicueta, Marcos Alonso, Romelu Lukaku and several other forwards (see below) uncertain, it is building up to be a very intriguing summer at Chelsea. And, oh yeah, they also have new billionaire owners who are keen to make their mark. (JPW)
June 9 – Chelsea could also sell Christian Pulisic, Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech
Of course, one of those names will jump off the page on this site. Pulisic, 23, has made no secret of his desire to play and there are plenty of clubs who’d welcome the chance to give him that opportunity.
June 8 – Chelsea want big money to loan Romelu Lukaku back to Inter Milan
Following his failed return to Stamford Bridge this season, Romelu Lukaku is hoping to leave the club once again this summer. He wants to go back to Inter Milan, and Inter Milan would like to have him back, but there’s just one problem: Chelsea have already sunk roughly $155 million into the signing (transfer fee plus first season’s wages), thus they would like to be compensated (handsomely) in order to re-(un)-acquire the 29-year-old Belgian striker, even on loan. According to a report from the Guardian, the Blues could demand as much as $31 million for the initial loan fee, plus a significant chunk of Lukaku’s $21-million annual salary. (AE)
June 8 – Ibrahim Sangare to Chelsea or Man United
PSV Eindhoven midfielder Ibrahim Sangare has been linked with Manchester United and Chelsea in reports that say the combative midfielder plans to be in the Premier League next season.
Sangare, 24, has a $44 million release clause and three years left on his PSV contract, having moved from then-Ligue 2 side Toulouse at the start of 2020-21 season.
He registered the third-most tackles in Eredivisie last season with 95 and the third-most interceptions with 74, chipping in three goals while passing the ball at nearly 87 percent. (NM)
June 1 – Chelsea still interested in USMNT goalkeeper Gabriel ‘Gaga’ Slonina
A report from Goal.com states that Chelsea are still interested in signing USMNT goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina. The 18-year-old is a starter for the Chicago Fire and recently turned down a call-up to the Poland national team to represent the USMNT. Real Madrid reportedly also want to sign Slonina, who is one of the top young goalkeeping prospects on the planet. Would this move be a good one for the young American? He’d almost certainly go out on loan and getting regular minutes is key as he wouldn’t be close to challenging Edouard Mendy for the starting spot. (JPW)
May 31 – Romelu Lukaku could move back to Inter Milan on loan
According to Fabrizio Romano, the Inter Milan board will meet with Lukaku’s reps today. He claims that Lukaku ‘dreams of a return’ to Inter but nothing has been discussed with Chelsea. Lukaku, 29, only joined Chelsea from Inter last summer for a huge $122.6 million fee. However, after a good start to the season his form dipped massively and he scored just eight Premier League goals in 16 starts. Chelsea’s attack was their main issue all season long and Tuchel wants to revamp it this summer as Lukaku, Hakim Ziyech, Timo Werner and Christian Pulisic could all be on the move. It has been reported elsewhere that Lukaku could initially head back to Inter on loan. (JPW)
Inter board will meet Romelu Lukaku's laywer in the coming hours. Belgian striker dreams of returning to Inter but nothing has been discussed yet with Chelsea on formula, salary and more 🔵 #CFC@SkySport
It's really complicated deal as Chelsea paid €115m for Rom one year ago.
Leicester vs Nottingham Forest: More than any other manager in the Premier League, Brendan Rodgers needs a victory next time out in an East Midlands derby at King Power Stadium on Monday (watch live, 3 pm ET on USA Network and online via NBCSports.com).
Seven games into the 2022-23 season, and Leicester have all of one point to their name, a draw on the opening day followed by six straight defeats by a combined margin of 20-8. They gave up five goals to Brighton, then they gave up six to Tottenham. Rodgers remains in charge after the recent international break, but it becomes a tougher sell to keep his job with each passing defeat.
Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Leicester vs Nottingham Forest.
Leicester (20th place) have conceded more goals (22) than any other side in the Premier League — even Bournemouth, who shipped nine to Liverpool in one game. Wesley Fofana left for Chelsea (for $80 million) just before the transfer deadline, and Leicester made just one (loan) signing during the summer window. Has disinterest in the boardroom turned into disinterest in the locker room? If so, it’s difficult to see how Rodgers weathers this storm.
It’s been a similar story for Forest (19th), who impressed in each of their first three Premier League outings collapsing defensively (14 goals conceded) in four straight defeats, including back-to-back 3-2 humblings at the hands of the other two promoted sides, Fulham and Bournemouth.
10 things we learned in the Premier League: Week 9
1. Even recognizing Barcelona’s 2008-09, Pep’s Man City could be his best work yet (Man City 6-3 Man Utd): It’s difficult to Imagine a season better than Barcelona’s league and Champions League double. Barcelona was stunned on Opening Day but did not lose again until February 21. It did not lose a meaningful European match nor trail after a leg of the knockout rounds. Of its five league losses, four came after building a 13-point table lead in mid-February. Even throwing in 105-goal, plus-70 goal differential La Liga figures somehow doesn’t change the thought that this City could better most of those marks. City is currently on pace for 133 goals and a nearly triple-digit goal diffrential, though it’s yet to have played Liverpool, Spurs, Chelsea, or Arsenal. It’s also in second place (laughing emoji). Oh, and Erling Haaland might just rewrite the PL single season record book. (NM)
2. Statement win sums up Arsenal’s steady progress (Arsenal 3-1 Spurs): There is something special brewing at Arsenal. This run of wins to start the season should surprise nobody. After spending wisely on quality players this summer, this finally feels like Mikel Arteta’s side and it has felt that way since day one of preseason. Even after the disappointment of just missing out on Champions League qualification to Tottenham at the end of last season, Arsenal were heading in the right direction. They have been for some time and this start to the season will give them the confidence and belief they can fight for trophies and maybe, just maybe, have an outside chance of challenging for the title. (JPW)
3. Thiago Silva lucky to play on, set up Chelsea equalizer (Crystal Palace 1-2 Chelsea): Chelsea’s race was nearly run in the 33rd minute, when Thiago Silva was caught napping and lost the ball in acres of space. As Ayew darted past the Brazilian, who was now lying flat on his stomach, Silva stuck out his left hand and slapped the ball away to prevent the counter-attack (and likely scoring chance). Referee Chris Kavanagh showed Silva a yellow card, deeming that either (or a combination of) the distance from goal (roughly 35 yards out) and at least one recovering defender meant there wasn’t an obvious goal-scoring opportunity to be denied. Five minutes later, Silva headed the ball down for Aubameyang to rifle it home. From nearly a goal and a man down, to level on both, in 300 seconds. (AE)
4. Liverpool’s defense messy, messy, messy (Liverpool 3-3 Brighton): There Is not a level-headed person alive who would deny Trent Alexander-Arnold his status as one of the best right-sided playmakers in the world. There’s an argument that he’s could become his generation’s Andrea Pirlo as a central midfielder. But he’s not playing central midfield, and teams are targeting his side of the pitch and finding joy. As Jordan Henderson ages out and Thiago Alcantara and Fabinho exist as cover, how long before Jurgen Klopp finally says, “Yes, okay, here” to those who see what everyone else sees: a dynamic player who turns 24 on Friday and isn’t improving at the defensive duties of a right back but intercepts passes so well. That said, his performance is less of a talking point if Virgil van Dijk connects on a clearing attempt of the Brighton cross that became Trossard’s third goal. This game could’ve been 6-5 and while we would’ve loved that entertainment, Klopp has to wonder what’s next. Andy Robertson and Ibrahima Konate were missing but Liverpool’s spent plenty for depth that’s been disappointing. And Joel Matip isn’t exactly paid like a depth piece, is he? (NM)
5. Erik ten Hag handcuffs his team (Man City 6-3 Man Utd): Look, hindsight is always going to be 20:20. We get that, but expecting to go toe-to-toe with City away by deploying Christian Eriksen and Scott McTominay at the heart of your midfield while leaving Fred and Casemiro on the bench was almost absurd. Eriksen’s defensive skills weren’t up for the task and left McTominay running around like a maniac. The ball barely found its way to the front four, which was United’s only hope of hanging with the hosts. Antony’s incredible goal is a cruel hint of what might’ve been for ETH’s young team. (NM)
6. Eddie Howe’s Newcastle well-prepared to punish (Fulham 1-4 Newcastle): It wasn’t that long ago that a Newcastle team going up a man after eight minutes would not necessarily mean a Magpies win. In fact, the 2020-21 Magpies only drew Fulham — who would be relegated — after a 62nd-minute red card to the Cottagers only saw a goal from the resulting penalty. On this day, however, Newcastle rolled past Fulham despite the absences of Allan Saint-Maximin and Alexander Isak, and all of their goal scorers were on board before last season’s big ownership change. Eddie Howe’s Black and White Army, y’all. And 2020-21 loan star Joe Willock had two assists, though big January buy Bruno Guimares had an assist and starred. (NM)
7. Toffees have found the formula to get most from Calvert-Lewin’s imminent return (Southampton 1-2 Everton): There is real progression to Everton under Frank Lampard, especially going forward. Defensively they remain solid but Gray and McNeil provided width, speed and trickery which the Toffees couldn’t make the most of. When Dominic Calvert-Lewin returns soon, they will have a focal point to make the most of this structured attacking play. (JPW)
8. Diego Costa flashes as silver lining of Wolves loss (West Ham 2-0 Wolves): The big, tempestuous veteran striker still knows where to be on the pitch and was just put off enough on a powerful header that went wide of the goal. Costa was a fine hold-up man, something Wolves have used to thrive when Raul Jimenez is at or near his best. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Costa become the positive difference in 3-4 matches this season… maybe even next Saturday against old pals Chelsea? It will have to be a new coach who picks him in the XI, as Wolves fired Bruno Lage on Sunday. (NM)
9. Ref stands by his own call to deny Bees at Cherries (AFC Bournemouth 0-0 Brentford): The game’s biggest moment came in the 20th minute, when Brentford defender Kristoffer Ajer appeared to slide through Bournemouth left back Jordan Zemura. Ajer made no contact with the ball (he could have, as it appeared well within his reach) before pulling out of the challenge, leaving his legs high and catching Zemura who tried to hurdle the outstretched defender. Referee Thomas Bramall initially said no foul, and then maintained that position following his own lengthy video review session. (AE)
10. Villa a mess in the final third (Leeds 0-0 Aston Villa): Wow. Up a man for almost the entire half and nothing but a point to show for it. To watch Aston Villa is to see a team in control of the midfield — Douglas Luiz was sublime on Sunday — but there are too many individuals in the final third. Philippe Coutinho was lively but if has to score if the attack is going to be all about him. The same can be said about Emiliano Buendia, while Ollie Watkins and (then) Danny Ings aren’t getting much service. Villa’s xG going into the game was the second-worst in the Premier League and they are still underperforming it. (NM)