Merchant Chelsea opens with fresh team hunt on Liverpool and Man City

The European football world could experience a transfer period in which clubs anxiously keep their hands on the cut, the insiders predicted. After all, the lack of an audience in the stadiums and therefore lucrative receipts during the corona crisis means that more attention has to be paid to the money than otherwise.

But that frugality doesn‘t seem to apply to Chelsea, who starts tonight at the Premier League with a visit to Brighton & Hove Albion. On the contrary.

The London club has already spent some 215 million euros on new players – including the absent Hakim Ziyech tonight due to an injury – marking a firm line through the previous club record from the summer of 2017, when just over 200 million was spent. And it is not excluded that the scholarship will be drawn again to bring in a goalkeeper.

Full vault

This unbridled buying frenzy, however, is not as rash as it looks. Because Chelsea had broken the rules on attracting youth players, the club was not allowed to enter the transfer market as a penalty last summer. Last winter, following a ruling by CAS, that road was still open, but it was not possible to bring in reinforcements.

The proceeds from the sale of Eden Hazard to Real Madrid (which could amount to EUR 162 million) were therefore still in the vault, to which was added the EUR 56 million generated by the departure of Álvaro Morata to Atlético Madrid. It was indeed a nice pile of banknotes with which Marina Granovskaia, Chelsea’s director in charge of million-dollar deals, was able to enter the market.

And you can leave that to the Russian-Canadian right hand of club owner Roman Abramovich. That is how she kept Kai Havertz, coveted by many top clubs, to the tune of EUR 78 million. But that was almost 20 million less than Bayer Leverkusen originally wanted for the 21-year-old midfielder. Statue for Marina‘, a satisfied Chelsea fan twittered.

Ride toppers

The German was the last in the line of stars to lure Chelsea to the British capital. The series was opened in February by Ajacied Hakim Ziyech (40 million). This was followed by 24-year-old Leipzig striker Timo Werner (55 million), 23-year-old English international Ben Chilwell of Leicester City (50 million), French promise Malang Sarr of Nice (transfer free) and Brazilian routinier Thiago Silva of Paris Saint-Germain (transfer free).

Coach Frank Lampard, who saw Willian (to Arsenal) and Pedro (to AS Roma) leave, among others, now has the task of narrowing the gap with the Premier League top players Liverpool and Manchester City. Poets may be too much to ask despite the recent multi-million-dollar spending, although the former pro has cleverly steered ‘The Blues‘ to a Champions League ticket in his first year as a top-level manager.

So it looks more like Stamford Bridge is looking beyond London’s nose. Apart from the almost 36-year-old Thiago Silva, Chelsea can still enjoy the acquisitions for a long time to come. And to think that in November 2019 Lampard already had the youngest Chelsea team ever to start a Premier League game: 24 years and 88 days on average.

Young guard

Lampard, who at 42 years of age is also a youthful figure along the line, has a large number of youngsters from his own academy at his disposal, such as (briefly Vitesse player) Mason Mount, Reece James, Tammy Abraham and Callum Hudson-Odoi, while American Christian Pulisic also belongs to the young guard.

So there is a lot of music in the selection, which especially in an offensive way has a lot of notes on its vocals. But perhaps in the end the arrival of Thiago Silva is even more important. Of all the clubs in the top ten, Chelsea got the most countergoals last season: 54. That shaky defence cost the team unnecessarily many points.

Key to success

With the experienced Brazilian as a rock in the surf, that problem could be solved to a large extent. The 89-fold international may not have the speed, but his insight into the game is all the more valuable. Moreover, he needs few fouls, as the headstrong centre defender proved last season in the Champions League: four in nine matches.

Joining the creative left foot of a fit Ziyech, Thiago Silva could therefore be the key to Lampard‘s success this season, who in his thirteen seasons as a Chelsea player himself became country champion three times, captured the FA Cup four times and won both the Europa League (2013) and the Champions League (2012).

But first we’ll have to deal with Brighton & Hove Albion tonight, where Joël Veltman and Davy Pröpper are under contract.