Soccer-Rule-bending Chelsea take transfer gamble to give Potter ultimate selection headache
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By Peter Hall
MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) – Languishing well below their usual league position and under the watchful eyes of Financial Fair Play regulators, Chelsea got creative with their lavish transfer spending in January, one that gives coach Graham Potter the ultimate selection puzzle.
Premier League football clubs spent a record 815 million pounds ($1.00 billion) during the January transfer window, an analysis by Deloitte’s Sports Business Group showed on Wednesday.
The biggest spenders have been Chelsea, responsible for 37% of the total, taking their overall transfer spend to more than £500m in the eight months since new owner Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital bought the London club.
Such spending has left many wondering how, when Premier League FFP rules allow clubs to lose £105million over a three-year period, and UEFA rules only allow one loss. £53million over a three-year period, Chelsea could spend so big.
Although Chelsea believe no rules were broken, they have certainly benefited from the state of the market, with the impact of the COVID pandemic on revenue leading to a relaxation of regulations.
The other striking element of these large transactions is the duration of the contracts offered to newcomers. British record signing Enzo Fernandez has signed an eight-and-a-half-year deal as well as 70 million euros ($76.26 million) to snap up Mykhailo Mudryk.
These unusually long contracts allow Chelsea to “amortize” the cost of transfers over the duration of the deal. On balance, Fernandez’s £106.8million can be spread over eight and a half years.
You should always have the money to spend first, but such a practice is common in accounting. It has, however, angered those who claim the Premier League is becoming a de facto European Super League due to its buying power.
“What worries me is the Premier League, and I’ve been worried for many years now,” Spanish La Liga president Javier Tebas told a news conference this month.
“But now it has become a competition that loses all year round. All clubs lose money. There is no sustainability in the Premier League. The Premier League is not a model financially viable.”
The recent departures of Tammy Abraham to AS Roma, Kurt Zouma to West Ham United, Fikayo Tomori to AC Milan and Marc Guehi to Crystal Palace, among others, have also helped give Chelsea’s financial records a boost. more pink appearance.
But assembling a team full of players on long trades is a huge gamble, especially if the signings don’t match the billing.
HOW TO INSERT THEM ALL
It all started so well for Potter as he took over from Thomas Tuchel as Chelsea boss in September.
The former Brighton & Hove Albion manager went unbeaten in his first nine games in charge as he looked to have resurrected the Blues’ season, but seven defeats in 12 in all competitions since have left the League winners champions 2021 10th in league standings.
Injuries have hampered Potter’s progress, with a host of key staff sidelined for an extended period, prompting the club to be particularly active in January.
With very few players leaving to make way for eight new arrivals in January, Potter’s next task is to figure out how to fit everyone in, especially when the injury absentees return.
So far, while trying to stop Chelsea’s fall, Potter hasn’t even been able to pick his best formation, let alone his strongest starting XI.
Chelsea have used the most players of any Premier League side this season (29), which has included 73 changes to their starting XI, 18 more than any other team.
Some would say having so many talented players is a nice problem to have, but at a club notorious for not giving managers time to turn things around, Potter will be acutely aware that at least some of his newcomers have to start.
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(Reporting by Peter Hall; Editing by Christian Radnedge)