Chelsea, through alchemy, mastery of the dark arts, or just shockingly good business, have conquered Financial Fair Play, and the transfer market along with it.
This year’s deals confirmed that statement.
For most teams, the new UEFA rules requiring a certain transfer ratio to be maintained would have torpedoed deals for world-class players such as Cesc Fabregas or Diego Costa, and at the very least would have limited clubs to the ability to buy just one player of that ability each window or each year.
No, they’ve managed to buy both those players, plus Juan Cuadrado, Felipe Luis, and Loic Remy for a mammoth total cost of just a hair under $160 million.
And yet they’re essentially breaking even.
The Blues have managed to rack up a sale intake of just under $150 million. How many clubs even have an entire squad worth that much, let alone a scrap heap with that price tag? Chelsea managed to somehow sell David Luiz, Romelu Lukaku, and Andre Schurrle for all over $35 million each, two of which hardly played for the club. That Luiz deal – at a ridiculous $56 million – remains one of the most brain-melting transfers of all time.
UPDATE: Chelsea sold Ryan Bertrand to Southampton on a permanent basis at the deadline, netting near $15 million and officially putting them in the black for the season’s net transfer spending. Unreal.
Mind you, Andre Schurrle is a fantastic player. Some, including myself, would describe him as world-class, and that term is not to be used lightly (though some people choose to do so). It’s also easily arguable that the swap of Schurrle for Cuadrado is a clear downgrade. But to Chelsea, they don’t care. With the current squad, Cuadrado is a rotational player and nothing more, just as Schurrle devolved into under Mourinho. It would be shocking to see the former Fiorentina winger make 15 appearances the rest of this season in all competitions, maybe not even 10. But that’s not why he was purchased.
Chelsea swapped a world-class player who believed he should start – and would be right in thinking so – for a solid second string, and make a profit in the act. They traded a player who has no business on the bench for a player who is just about the right ability level to back up Eden Hazard and Willian. This is not to say Cuadrado won’t play, but he’s by no means a starter over those two. A downgrade was exactly what Chelsea was going for.
It’s this genius of talent stockpiling that has Chelsea cornering the transfer market – and it’s nothing terribly new for the Blues. They stupefied St. Etienne into selling them young, standout defender Kurt Zouma (for $12 million!), taking him back on loan for game experience, and then sending him back to Chelsea ready to fill in for an aging Gary Cahill or John Terry. They somehow made a $23 million loss on the sale and buyback of Nemanja Matic to Benfica look genius. And they seamlessly switched from world-class goalkeeping legend to 22-year-old surefire future goalkeeping legend even more fluidly than the Colts went from Peyton Manning to Andrew Luck.
Through a combination of exceptional youth scouting, a perfectly laid out long-term squad plan, and a little bit of luck, Chelsea has a chokehold on the transfer market. At this moment, it seems they would be the only team who could feasibly pull off a deal for Lionel Messi that wouldn’t cripple the club from years of FFP punishments guaranteed to follow any other club that dares spends that kind of money.
All of Europe kneels before Jose Mourinho and the the Blues front office. The transfer market is Chelsea’s world, and we’re all just living in it.