Even by Chelsea’s very high standards in this department, the 2022 summer transfer window has been nothing short of chaotic, with money flying all over the place. Despite this, it does appear that Todd Boehly, who has stood in as the Blues’ interim sporting director over the summer, has managed to make some shrewd additions to the squad.
Or at least some that are shrewder than the signing of Romelu Lukaku for £100 million the season prior! In this window, the west London side have spent an enormous £253.79m on eight new signings, whilst 19 players have departed, whether permanently or on loan, including a certain aforementioned Belgian striker.
The frankly silly, or impressive depending on your point of view, amount of cash splashed by the Blues this summer is the most any English club has ever spent in a single transfer window. Not only this, but the players leaving Stamford Bridge have only brought in £51.06m in transfer fees. That leaves the club with a transfer window loss of just over £200m, but with a squad that certainly looks stronger on paper; no pressure, Thomas Tuchel then! In this article, we’ll take a look at the club’s ins and outs in more detail and analyse what role the new signings may play in the upcoming season.
Summer 2022/23 Ins
|Wesley Fofana||£72.36m||21||Leicester City||France|
|Raheem Sterling||£50.58m||27||Manchester City||England|
|Carney Chukwuemeka||£16.20m||18||Aston Villa||England|
|Gabriel Slonina||£8.18m||18||Chicago Fire||USA|
|Denis Zakaria||Loan (fee of £2.70m)||25||Juventus||Switzerland|
First up, when ranked by transfer fees, we have 21-year-old centre-back Wesley Fofana. The Blues saw three bids for the Frenchman rejected by Leicester City but were eventually able to bring the defender to Stamford Bridge for just over £70 million, with Fofana reportedly signing a bumper seven-year contract!
Due to the long bargaining process between the Blues and Leicester, tensions quickly frayed between Foxes boss Brendan Rodgers and the centre-half, after Fofana failed to turn up to training in order to force through a move. Rodgers responded by making him train with the under-23s, but he did get his move in the end.
Fofana arrives as a Premier League-proven centre-back, who has the potential to develop into one of the world’s best defenders, and it is likely that he will form a key part of Chelsea’s defence this season, although he may be introduced into the starting XI slowly. Whilst he is yet to appear for the national team, the Frenchman has been capped at youth level, and will have an eye on the upcoming World Cup, if he can assert himself as a key player in Thomas Tuchel’s side. With the Blues losing two key defenders, his recruitment was a priority and the team will be delighted they got their man.
Another marquee signing hoping to establish themselves in Chelsea’s new-look defence is Marc Cucurella, who has joined the Blues for almost £60 million from Brighton. The left-back, who has one cap for his native Spain, was a key part of Brighton’s ninth-place finish last season and won both their player of the season awards.
Boehly seems keen to offer long term contracts, and it was no different here, with the Spaniard signing a hefty six-year contract with the Blues. Just like Fofana, Cucurella is a young, Premier League-proven defender, and they definitely don’t come cheap: the fee paid for the left-back was Brighton’s record sale. The 25-year-old should be a key part of Chelsea’s team this season, although he will face competition from Ben Chilwell, who himself cost the Blues £45 million! That said, Cucurella also has the ability to play on the left of a back three, so brings versatility and options as well.
Chelsea continued their plan of picking up top players from other Premier League clubs by signing Raheem Sterling, who cost the Blues £50 million. The winger has been successful at the highest level for a number of years, scoring 10+ Premier League goals in each of the last five Premier League seasons.
Sterling was also instrumental in England’s run through to the final of the 2020 European Championships, scoring three goals in the competition. The 27-year-old brings a vast amount of experience, having scored 131 goals in 339 games for Manchester City in all competitions, and is one of just four current Premier League players to have scored over 100 league goals. Sterling is a London native, and will hope to bring the Premier League trophy, which he won four times for City, back to west London. The winger/forward will likely slot straight into the Blues’ starting XI and be a key player this season, adding much-needed goals.
Another player who will bring a vast amount of top-level experience to the Blues is 31-year-old Kalidou Koulibaly, who, alongside Wesley Fofana, will hopefully more than make up for the gap left in Chelsea’s defence by the departure of Antonio Rudiger to Real Madrid. The centre-half, who departs Napoli after a successful eight seasons with the club, has signed a four-year deal with the west London giants, tying him down at least until he is 35 years old.
Whilst paying just over £34 million may seem like a lot of money for a player who is already past 30, if fellow Chelsea defender, Thiago Silva, who turns 38 this year, has proved anything, it’s that age is becoming less and less of a factor in being able to effectively compete in the Premier League. Just like Sterling, it is likely that Koulibaly will slot straight into the Blues’ starting XI. At international level, the defender is a key player for Senegal, having earned 64 caps for the African nation and being named Senegal player of the year in both 2017 and 2018.
A somewhat surprising turn of events, for Aston Villa fans at least, has seen 18-year-old midfielder Carney Chukwuemeka swap Birmingham for west London in a near-£20m deal. The England youth international, who played a starring role in the Three Lions’ triumph in the Under-19 European Championships earlier this summer, had repeatedly refused to sign a new contract with Villa, amidst interest from the Blues and other teams across Europe.
The midfielder had been left out of the club’s pre-season tour to Australia by Steven Gerrard, due to his refusal to sign the contract that had been on the table for some time. Having appeared 12 times for the Villains last season, the 18-year-old was certainly viewed as a future star of the club but said, “I couldn’t get Chelsea out of my head,” and who could blame him when Boehly comes sniffing around! Chukwuemeka may have limited game time for the Blues this season, although he’ll be likely to feature in the domestic cups and should make some substitute appearances in the Premier League and Champions League.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is a man that the Blues have signed to guarantee goals, and he will be taking on the club’s “cursed” number nine shirt, whose most recent victim was of course Romelu Lukaku! The 33-year-old has signed for just over £10m, leaving Barcelona after making just 24 appearances for the Catalan club, in which he scored 13 goals.
The Gabonese striker is a very familiar face for Premier League fans, having scored an impressive 92 goals in 163 games for Arsenal, where he was seen as the star man, but left after falling out with Mikel Arteta. Although retiring from international football earlier this year, Auba is Gabon’s all-time top goal scorer, having found the net 30 times for his country, and he has reliably scored goals at an arguably world-class rate throughout his career.
It is likely that the forward’s close relationship with boss Tuchel, the manager under whom he scored 98 goals in 144 games at Borussia Dortmund, was a major factor in his decision to sign for the Blues. He will most likely slot straight into Chelsea’s attack for the upcoming season and should provide them with the focal point and clinical finishing they have often lacked in recent campaigns.
A signing that, amongst the numerous other multi-million-pound transfers made by the Blues this summer, may have flown under the radar, is the acquisition of 18-year-old American goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina. The teenager has signed for just over £8 million from Chicago Fire and will remain on loan at the MLS club for the rest of the season, where he is a regular fixture in the starting lineup, despite his age. He made history in the MLS as the youngest goalkeeper ever to start a game, when he made his debut at just 17 years and 81 days old.
Rounding up Chelsea’s record-breaking transfer window, we have the season-long loan signing of Swiss midfielder Denis Zakaria, who has made the switch to west London from Juventus. The deal was agreed on deadline day, and there seems to have been an element of panic around Zakaria’s transfer. It remains uncertain where he will fit in to Chelsea’s midfield, although he is clearly a player of considerable quality.
The 25-year old, who made his name in Germany for Monchengladbach, had only joined Juventus in January, making 11 appearances, but has now been allowed to leave on loan. Zakaria is also a key player for Switzerland, having made 42 appearances for his country, and it will be interesting to see how he will fit into Tuchel’s side this season.
Summer 2022/23 Outs
|Player||Loan or Fee||Destination||Age||Nationality|
|Timo Werner||£18m||RB Leipzig||26||Germany|
|Romelu Lukaku||Loan (£7.20m fee)||Inter Milan||29||Belgium|
|Malang Sarr||Loan (£900k fee)||Monaco||23||France|
|Antonio Rudiger||Free||Real Madrid||29||Germany|
|Charly Musonda Jr.||Free||Levante||25||Belgium|
|Abdul Rahman Baba||Loan||Reading||28||Ghana|
This summer has seen a mass exodus at Chelsea, with several players, who had seemingly been trapped in a cycle of constant loan spells, finally able to leave Stamford Bridge, such as Kenedy and Michy Batshuayi. Perhaps the two most notable players departing west London are Timo Werner and the £100 million man, Romelu Lukaku, and we will take a look at their transfers in more detail below.
It has been a tumultuous year for Romelu Lukaku. Having left Inter Milan, where he had thrived under Antonio Conte, scoring 64 goals in 95 appearances in all competitions, he arrived at Chelsea, his boyhood club, with the expectation that he would be the final piece of the puzzle for Tuchel’s side. Instead, despite a fine start at the club, he now departs on a season-long loan back to Inter, just 10 months after his club-record signing for the Blues.
It all seemed set up perfectly for the Belgian, one of the world’s most talented and prolific strikers, to come back to a club where he had unfinished business and to show the Premier League what he could do. Unfortunately, the 29-year-old never seemed to truly fit the system that he was signed to complete, and he only started 16 times in the Premier League last season, as well as famously breaking the record for the least touches in a match, managing just seven against Crystal Palace. It remains to be seen what the final chapter of the Lukaku-Chelsea saga is, but at the moment he will definitely top a lot of “worst ever Premier League signing” lists. As for Inter, selling a player for a huge sum and then loaning them back 12 months later looks like a sensational piece of business!
Another striker who arrived at Chelsea with a reputation for being handy at sticking the ball in the back of the net was Timo Werner, who signed for the Blues in 2020 for £45 million. The fact that he has now left the club, after just two seasons, having only managed 10 Premier League goals in that period, marks another unsuccessful bit of recruitment from the Blues.
Werner has returned to his native Germany and to RB Leipzig, the club where he scored 95 goals in 159 games in all competitions. He will now be looking to replicate that kind of form back in the Bundesliga, which he failed to manage in a Chelsea shirt, and to get himself into Germany’s World Cup squad for Qatar. The German couldn’t be faulted for his effort, but the goals just weren’t going in, and his confidence seemed to really falter; hopefully he will get his shooting boots back on in Leipzig!