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REVIEW: Why Chelsea struggle despite multi-million euro spending on players



Chelsea Football Club have imprinted a borderline impact in European football, after spending nearly £1 billion in the transfer market within the blink of a year from 2022 to 2023.

This comes after the takeover of the club by a group of investors led by American wealthy billionaire, Todd Broehly, from the former Russian owner, Roman Abrahamovich, with an estimated deal of £4.25 billion and an agreement of £1.75 billion to aid the club’s development.

With the development notwithstanding, the performance of the Blue Army radically suffered a setback, with the team struggling to remain a top club.

Perhaps, the decline of the club is associated with its leading owner’s alleged inexperience in the football world, and his adamant refusal to share power in controlling some crucial role exclusive to expert penetration.

Unlike the Abrahamovich-led administration due to removal of Bruce Buck as the Blues’s Chairman together with Marina Granovskaia stepping down as the team’s Director in charge of transfer negotiations, more power especially transfer negotiation duty centres in the hands of a single person with little practical knowledge to run the club. Thus, have a deathblow on the progressive influence of the team in contrast to prior developments.

The Rise and Fall of Abrahamovich Mandate

Roman Abrahamovich became the owner of Chelsea F.C. in 2003 with an agreement worth nearly $190 million. He gained the control of Chelsea companies at West London and automatically possessed the ownership of the club from the British wealthy businessman (Ken Bates) who later bought Leeds United.

The club witnessed revolutionary transformations afterwards. Coming from minnow to compete and drag titles with dominant teams like Manchester United, Liverpool, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and more is a myth to the world of European football.

The Pensioners just need a few decades to break an English record to became the most successful English team, winning more trophies within a limited time span with18 major titles to bypass the former record holder (Manchester United’s 16 trophies).

Similarly, the club earned its popular title ‘The Pride of London’ from its fans, following their 2012 landmark UEFA Champions League triumph, becoming the biggest and successful football club in London and outshined their biggest rivals (Arsenal and Tottenham).

Between 2003 and 2022 under the leadership of Abrahamovich, the Blue Lions have won 19 major trophies. Two UEFA Champions League titles in 2012 and 2021. Two UEFA Europa League titles in 2013 and 2019. One time Super Cup winner in 2021. One time FIFA Club World Cup in 2021. Five times Premier League winner in 2005, 2006, 2010, 2015 and 2017. Five times FA Cup winner in 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2018. And three times League Cup winner in 2005, 2007 and 2015.

With the advent of the Russo-Ukrainian war in 2022, Abrahamovich’s Chelsea ownership status was threatened with a suspicion of a friendly intimacy between him and the Russian President. This was against the general background to sanction Russia’s act of unlawfully invading Ukrainian territories.

On 26 February 2023, the former Russian Governor handed over “stewardship and care” of Chelsea F.C to the Chelsea Charitable Foundation.

On 2 March 2022, Chelsea’s former owner released an official statement with an intention to sell the club as a result of the situation in Ukraine. On 10 March 2022, the government of the United Kingdom froze the assets of the Russian billionaire due to his close ties with the Kremlin (Russian Government). However, they permitted Chelsea to operate in football-related activities.

On 7 March 2022, Chelsea announced it had officially agreed to transfer the ownership of the club to a group of investors led by Todd Boehly, Clearlake Capital, Mark Walter and Hansjoerg Wyss with £4.5 billion purchase deals. Thus, marks a borderline between Abrahamovich’s led mandates and the new dynasty envisioned by the new owners.

Read Also: Proceeds from Chelsea sale will ‘go to good causes’, Abramovich reiterates

Chelsea’s Todd Boehly Transfer Deals Breakdown

The new leaders of Chelsea devised a skyrocket-player-signing strategy to reinforce the team beyond what other clubs could have imagined and withstand. But this proved negative as those players signed with approximately almost £1 billion in three different transfer windows were failing to deliver their worth.

This development is to build a young-talented squad engulfed with high spirit and passion of commitment dreamed by the club’s leading owner, Boehly, as he negotiated nearly all of the transfer deals.

In the 2022 Summer transfer window, Chelsea signed eight players from their English rivals as well as other leading leagues such as La Liga, Serie A and USA Major League Soccer (MLS) side.

Boehly opened the flow with Raheem Sterling from Manchester City with a £47.5 million deal. Followed by Kalidou Koulibaly from an Italian side (Inter Milan) with a £34 million. Gabrial Slolina from Chicago Fire with £8.1 million. Carney Chukwuemeka from Aston villa (€20 million). Marc Cucurella (Brighton) – £60m. Cesare Casadei (Inter Milan) – £16.8m. Wesley Fofana (Leicester) – £70m. And Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Barcelona) – £12m.

In the 2023 Winter transfer window, the club proceeded with the status quo spending another myriad million pounds in the transfer market but yielded no positive effect as the team suffered a continuous defeat to other clubs.

Benoit Badiashile (Monaco) – £35m, David Datro Fofana (Molde) – £10.6m, Andrey Santos (Vasco da Gama) – £16m,

Joao Felix (Atletico Madrid, loan fee) – £10m, Mykhailo Mudryk (Shakhtar Donetsk) – £90m, Noni Madueke (PSV) – £30m, Malo Gusto (Lyon) – £26m, Enzo Fernandez (Benfica) – £106.8m, Jimmy-Jay Morgan (Southampton) – £3m.

In the 2023 Summer transfer window, Todd Boehly was engulfed with a seal to start the new season with an aggressive squad. Thus, also spent another huge sum in the transfer market.

Nicolas Jackson (Villarreal) – £32m, Christopher Nkunku (RB Leipzig) – £53m, Angelo Gabriel (Santos) – £13m, Lesley Ugochukwu (Rennes) – £23m, Axel Disasi (Monaco) – £38m, Robert Sanchez (Brighton) – £25m, Moises Caicedo (Brighton) – £115m, Romeo Lavia (southampton) – £58m.

Chelsea have spent £268.4 million, £327.4 million, and £357 million in the last three transfer windows respectively, approximately £952.8 million altogether.

Premier League clubs have shown a turnover dimension towards the transfer market more recently, spending more than other top four European leagues put together with a total sum of £4.4 billion. Italia Serie A next on the list with £1.36 billion. While French Ligue 1 follows with 1.16 billion and German Bundesliga’s £1 billion occupied the fourth vacuum.

Interestingly, Chelsea singlehandedly accounts for nearly one third of the English clubs’ figures. The club also exceeded the £736 million figures recorded by all La Liga clubs in the transfer market.

Read Also: SportsBusiness: Premier League clubs’ spending hits £2.36bn after deadline day

Supporters Bemoan Poor performances, Blame Owners of Inoperative Philosophy

Ibrahim Bala, 28, is a Chelsea supporter who lives at Sokoto, Northwest of Nigeria. He associated Chelsea’s fall to the takeover of a new management led by Todd Boehly. Due to Boehly’s ways of controlling the club, he pointed out three factors that accounted for halt in Chelsea progressive development.

First, lack of practical knowledge of the American bourgeois to single handedly explore European football. Secondly, the impossibility of experimental of American business philosophy in football, especially European football business. And lastly, pursuit of commercial benefits as the main zeal of the new owners while they care not whether the team wins trophy or otherwise.

“There’s one notion among Americans. If they own a business, they dictate every decision in relation to it. They feel incompetent when someone tries to give them advice or share a role with them.

“Todd deployed the same mentality as he negotiated most of the transfer deals personally and was reluctant to employ the services of the people who are experts in the area. He wants both leadership and managerial glory to be his.

“Signing Mudryk, Caicedo and others at such a high rate depicted inexperience of Boehly”, he stated.

While recounting how the club thrived and flourished under the management of the Russian owner, he observed that the American business philosophy does not fit European football. He opined that Chelsea glory together with good leadership traits left with the former owner Roman Abrahamovich.

Speaking further: “Boehly wants to beat the Abrahamovich legacy in Chelsea which he only dreamed of, but will never achieve. Because Roman didn’t compete, he allowed other people to perform their role and they all received the glory together in the end.”

However, Mr. Bala was hurt to stop watching the match of his favourite football club due to poor performances while he preferred checking livescore to follow the club’s result.

“I remembered during those bygone days. I stream our live matches. Because, even though we lost a match, we tactically often did better than the opponent. Like we did to real Madrid in 2022 UEFA Champions League quarter finals”

Olomu Abdulrauf Ayatullahi, 22, is another die-hard Chelsea fan from Kwara state, North central Nigeria. He developed a love for the club right from his childhood. He was really heartbroken and always felt bad as the Chelsea that usually gives him joy, then, has become unpleasant to watch.

While lamenting about impenitent performances, he blamed the current owners for the flop, saying the present administration is incomparable to the era of Roman Abrahamovich.

“Our last game for instance, Chelsea played against Nottingham Forest, and didn’t on-target for a good 80 minutes of play, it is quite embarrassing.”

“The administration is not comparable, because the difference is not far fetched and it is aptly glaring.I missed the Abrahamovich led administration. The passion of the players playing for Chelsea with the blue shirt.I missed it all.”

Inexperience Caused Decline?

A clear examination of the diseconomy of a capital by Chelsea owners quickly suggests that their goals are far beyond title accomplishments. Perhaps, to be registered as the top richest football club in the world.

As an English club with restrictions to register limited players, not more than 25 men-squad, there is no way a team can survive such a number of players signed, equal to the actual squad itself. It will rather force a team to release some players that their service is inimical to the club. This is exactly what bedevilled Boehly’s Chelsea with the exit of some experienced players like Antonio Rudiger, N’Golo Kante, Azpilicueta, Hakim Ziyech and others, whose practical knowledge is central to create a collaborative and progressive team with the new players.

Chelsea progressive developments have been slowed down since Todd Boehly’s led administration has taken over the control of the club.

The club fought to finish in the 12th place position in the previous Premier League campaign, concluding the season without winning a single title after suffering continuous defeat under the management of four different coaches.

Despite sustaining young-talented-future players and a new tactical coach with practical knowledge (Mauricio Pouchettino) in the ongoing campaign, the Blue Lions persisted in displaying poor performances.

The club’s 2023/24 EPL opening match against rival Liverpool painted a positive turnaround on the minds of its lovers after securing a 1-1 draw in the showdown with an impressive-aggressive performance. But not sooner than later, the team kept showing its true form, after they hardly secured their first 3-0 winning of the season in the third match against Luton Town. The minnow that lost all its first four Premier League games after joining the competition for the first time in their history.

After two losses, a draw and a win, Chelsea is able to secure four points from four matches coming behind Manchester United in the second chapter of the Premier League table sitting at 12th position.

…By Muheeb Mashood

Articles published in our Graffiti section are strictly the opinion of the writers and do not represent the views of Ripples Nigeria or its editorial stand.

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