Chelsea’s Summer Transfer Window: A Detailed Analysis
Going into this summer transfer window Chelsea had three obvious needs in their squad. A goalscoring number nine was at the top of the list, followed by a ball-winning midfielder to partner Enzo Fernandez, and then a goalkeeper.
As yet, Chelsea have not addressed any of those needs, though they have made multiple good signings in this window.
Christopher Nkunku was the first through the door, with his transfer having been arranged in December. Nkunku is a massively talented attacker, but he’s not a number nine and will likely be used more in an attacking midfield role.
Nicolas Jackson’s Transfer
Nicolas Jackson followed him, joining from Villarreal after missing out on Premier League moves in January due to a failed medical. The Senegalese international is another outstanding young talent but isn’t a true number nine and might be more suited to a wide role in Mauricio Pochettino’s system, similar to how the Argentine utilised Son Heung Min during his time at Tottenham.
The two other arrivals at Stamford Bridge this summer have been young players, winger Angelo Gabriel and midfield Lesley Ugochukwu. Ugochukwu looks set to go on loan immediately and Gabriel might well join him.
Potential Solutions: Juventus Striker and Midfield Partners
All four signings have strong merits, but don’t address the problem areas for Chelsea.
They are reportedly in talks over a deal for Juventus striker Dusan Vlahovic, a signing that would make a lot of sense for the Blues and give Pochettinho the true number nine he craves. Vlahovic with the trio of Jackson, Nkunku, and Mykhailo Mudryk behind him would give Chelsea a formidable attack.
They are chasing Moises Caicedo as they look to find the right partner for Fernandez to sit behind that attack and set the table for them. There can be no doubting Caicedo’s ability, or his pedigree. If Chelsea can get that deal across the line it would be arguably the best signing of the Boehly era. Should they fail to do so, they apparently have a list of alternatives that includes Tyler Adams.
Goalkeeping Position: Long-term Challenges
Defensively they did most of what needed to be done last season, and the combination of players signed last summer and in January, plus their academy youngsters, put them in a very strong position. It appears they might be set to add Axel Disasi to replace the injured Wesley Fofana, a move that seems like overkill and unnecessary, but Todd Boehly’s circus does not operate the way normal football clubs do.
That leaves the goalkeeping position. Kepa has re-established himself as the number one choice at the club, but that can’t be seen as a long-term solution. The Spaniard is a talented shotstopper but he’s too inconsistent to galvanize a team with title ambitions. Chelsea do have their goalkeeper of the future on their books in the shape of Gabriel Slonina but a ready-made option who could bridge the gap to Slonina is needed.
The Situation with Robert Sanchez
David Ornstein has reported that the Blues have agreed on a fee of £25mil for Robert Sanchez of Brighton. The 25-year-old Spanish international has spent a decade with the South Coast club but lost his place to Jason Steele last season, and had a falling out with club management as a result.
Sanchez is a talented goalkeeper but he is error-prone and does not represent an upgrade on Kepa. That Roberto De Zebri saw fit to drop him last season for Steele, who had never shown himself to be anything close to a Premier League calibre goalkeeper before, was a damning indictment of the weaknesses in Sanchez’s game.
He’s still young and has plenty of talent to develop, but Chelsea should surely have set the sights higher. If the Caicedo deal is outside of their grasp for this window, then using the money set aside for the Ecuadorian to go after Mike Maignan would be the smart play. Maignan is a top-five goalkeeper in world football and would immediately be the second-best in the Premier League after Alisson Becker if Chelsea were to bring him in.
Bringing in Maignan now, and developing Slonina slowly over the next four years would have represented a better approach for Chelsea but they have chosen to gamble on Sanchez and enter the season with a weak point, be it him or Kepa, between the sticks.