So Roman Abramovich has decided its time to start spending money again, has he? About time too, many Chelsea fans might say. The press have seen this as indicative of him being prepared to rebuild Chelsea again. Seventy five million quid is certainly a big financial commitment but the problem is, it goes nowhere near to addressing Chelsea’s problems and could easily be £75 million if not wasted then not put to the best use. The fact this was a deadline day splurge suggests it was not planned long in advance and was something of a desperate measure.
For a start Fernando Torres is the walking or rather hobbling definition of injury prone. While his goals per game stat is impressive, less so is the number of games he’s actually started while at Liverpool. The last three seasons have seen him start no more than 24 league games. So for £50 million, you’re getting a striker who is likely to on the sidelines for 30% of the season which still leaves Chelsea short of strike power for that third. so he’ll need to spend to address that.
Similarly, while Luiz is good and an adaptable defender, the side still needs major defensive strengthening to survive inevitable injuries right across the back four.
Indeed, that could be said of much of the team. Major investment is still needed but those thinking that Abramovich can just throw infinite money at the problem as he has in the past have to realise that UEFA Fair Play rules are approaching fast and while they are complicated and allow for transfer investment, sooner rather than later Chelsea, along with everyone else, will have to balance their books or face expulsion from UEFA competitions. Chelsea simply can’t risk that, which is why they were supposed to be bringing youth players through. However, clearly, those players are not good enough and Chelsea don’t have the patience nor the time to let them become good enough, so out comes the cheque book once again.
Such spending, while fun for the neutral observer, is an admittance of the failure of the club’s ambition to become more self-sufficient. This wasn’t going to be Roman’s new way. He wanted both the financial stability and the kudos that comes with ‘growing your own.’
Quite why this has failed so comprehensively is not clear, but as plenty of other clubs across Europe are able to produce at least an occasional top class player, we can surmise that something is rotten behind the scenes at the Blues. How can a club located in London with all the human resources on their door step not find at least one first team regular in the 11 years since Terry broke through? Even if Josh McEachran turns out to be someone who can make it, one player in over a decade is a shocking indictment of their youth system and like it our not, youth systems are going to become more important. Abramovich knew that only too well, which was why he’s pulled the plug on big spending in favour of youth, at least until Monday.
If Abramovich can’t splash endless money to rebuild Chelsea – and eventually he will not be able to – then what exactly are they going to do?
This transfer window has stuck a Band-Aid over the problem but the lack of exuberance from Chelsea fans over their two mega-priced transfers suggests they know only too well that problems still lay ahead and that the radical overhaul that the squad needs will take a lot more money and will put the club into a lot more debt… debt which UEFA will eventually not tolerate. The problem is, if they don’t spend big, how can Chelsea put together a top class squad again?