Grading the Blues’ Summer Business

    Chelsea were incredibly active this summer | Pool/Getty Images

    This summer was a real wild ride for Chelsea fans.

    Having been forced to sit out last summer as a result of the transfer ban, the Blues made up for lost time by embarking on a crazy shopping spree which brought some of Europe’s most exciting talent over to Stamford Bridge.

    Frank Lampard’s side have spent big to strengthen in some of their weakest areas, while also topping up in areas which perhaps weren’t as weak. On paper, Chelsea look ready to take the next step in their pursuit of silverware.

    Here’s a review of all the ins and outs at Stamford Bridge in the summer of 2020.

    Signed From: Ajax (£36m)

    Grade: A

    Chelsea struck a deal to bring Hakim Ziyech over from Ajax back in February, and ever since that announcement, fans have been drooling at the prospect of seeing the Morocco international in action.

    A common problem for Chelsea in 2019/20 was their inability to break down stubborn defences. Only a few players showed the desire to beat a man and there’s a case to argue that nobody had the kind of creativity and vision to play a killer pass to create a chance from nothing.

    Fortunately, that’s what Ziyech is all about. He bagged 21 assists in all competitions last year and 24 in the year before, showcasing his ability to split defences with terrifying ease.

    We’re still yet to see him in competitive action for the Blues, but fans are ready and waiting.

    Timo Werner, Frank Lampard
    Liverpool appeared to be the favourites to sign Werner | Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images

    Signed From: RB Leipzig (£47.5m)

    Grade: B+

    Having spent the early weeks of the summer assuming Timo Werner was heading to Liverpool, Chelsea swooped in and struck a deal for a bargain fee of £47.5m.

    The 24-year-old was one of Europe’s top marksmen last season, firing home 34 goals in all competitions, and that kind of pedigree usually comes with a price tag that can reach twice the fee Chelsea paid for Werner.

    Brought in early on, he’s had plenty of time to work alongside his new teammates and looks to be building up an impressive understanding with the rest of his young cohorts.

    Werner is yet to get off the mark in the Premier League, but his general level of performance suggests he’ll find the back of the net soon enough.

    Signed From: Barcelona (free)

    Grade: B

    A deal which was supposed to go through last summer, Xavier Mbuyamba finally sealed his move to Stamford Bridge in 2020, but he came via Barcelona this time instead of Dutch side MVV Maastricht.

    The 18-year-old centre-back has attracted plenty of excitement in recent years, even earning himself comparisons to Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk through a series of top performances, and that’s why Chelsea pursued him for so long.

    Snapping such an exciting prospect up for free looks like a real bargain, but the reality is there’s still a long way to go before Mbuyamba will be ready to make a real splash in the senior side.

    The signs are looking good, but let’s not get carried away just yet.

    Ben Chilwell
    Chilwell has already bagged his first goal | Visionhaus/Getty Images

    Signed From: Leicester City (£45m)

    Grade: B+

    Lampard set his sights on Chilwell early and ignored chances to move for alternative, cheaper targets to ensure he managed to land the Englishman for the not-so-small fee of £45m.

    There’s no denying that the Blues needed an upgrade at left-back. Marcos Alonso was seen by many as the weakest link in the Chelsea defence last season, with the Spaniard’s defensive awareness leaving a lot to be desired.

    Chilwell is an improvement in that area, although it’s not like the former Leicester man is the strongest defender around. Fortunately, he at least has the pace to get back when required, which can’t be said about Alonso.

    Lampard’s decision to chase Chilwell was justified in his Premier League debut, in which he kept a clean sheet, scored a goal and bagged an assist in a 4-0 win over Crystal Palace. How nice.

    Signed From: Nice (free)

    Grade: B

    It wasn’t that long ago that Malang Sarr was seen as one of France’s finest young defenders. The hype around him may have faded a little last season, but Chelsea still saw enough to snap him up on a free transfer.

    From a business point of view, that’s as smart as it gets. He’s arrived for free and can either become a first-team player, be sold for profit or simply walk away for free. There’s no losing.

    Will Sarr ever become the star he was predicted to be? Nobody really knows, but the low cost of this deal means Chelsea can’t go wrong.

    Thiago Silva
    Silva led PSG to the Champions League final last season | Visionhaus/Getty Images

    Signed From: Paris Saint-Germain (free)

    Grade: B

    There’s no denying that Chelsea needed a new centre-back this summer. There were links to some of the biggest names in the game, but it was former PSG captain Thiago Silva who made the move to the Bridge this summer.

    The 36-year-old comes with the kind of experience and organisational skills that the Chelsea defence have been crying out for, and the fact that he was given the captain’s armband on his debut against West Brom suggests that Lampard has already been impressed with what he’s seen.

    By handing Silva a one-year deal (with the option for a second), Chelsea have given themselves the freedom to cut ties with the high-earning Brazilian next season if things don’t work out. At that point, the Blues’ entire transfer kitty could be spent on a defender, which means a top talent could come through the door.

    It’s a nice short-term fix to a long-term problem.

    Kai Havertz
    Havertz was the most expensive signing of the summer | Visionhaus/Getty Images

    Signed From: Bayer Leverkusen (£71m)

    Grade: A

    Taking advantage of the lack of competition in the transfer market, Chelsea swooped in and struck a deal to sign 21-year-old Kai Havertz, who is seen by many as one of the most exciting young stars in world football.

    Borussia Dortmund’s £108m asking price ensuring Manchester United wasted their entire summer fruitlessly pursuing Jadon Sancho, you get a better idea of just how well Chelsea did to snap up Havertz for ‘just’ £71m. Young stars are expected to sell for more than that.

    It was a slow start on the pitch for Havertz, but all the signs suggest he’s figuring things out, and he has already started impressing in Chelsea blue.

    If he can get back to the goal-scoring, assist-bagging form that he showcased in Leverkusen, he could lead Chelsea to glory for the next decade, which would make that £71m fee look like an absolute steal.

    Edouard Mendy
    Mendy has already moved into the starting lineup | Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images

    Signed From: Rennes (£22m)

    Grade: B+

    Having watched Kepa Arrizabalaga cause chaos for his entire debut season, Lampard was left with no choice but to pursue a goalkeeper who he felt could actually be relied upon. Using assistance from executive Petr Čech, the decision was made to pursue Édouard Mendy.

    Initially, it seemed somewhat underwhelming as Chelsea had already been linked to the likes of Marc-André ter Stegen and Jan Oblak, but after all the spending earlier in the summer, Chelsea had no choice but to pursue a cheaper option.

    Mendy may not have the biggest global reputation, but he established himself as a reliable shot-stopper during his time in France and clearly did enough to impress Čech, whose opinion on what makes a good goalkeeper is worth more than most.

    He’s already been thrust into the starting lineup and even managed a clean sheet on his debut, justifying the club’s faith in him.

    Alvaro Morata
    Morata’s loan became permanent this summer | Denis Doyle/Getty Images

    Transferred To: Atlético Madrid (£58.3m)

    Grade: A+

    After signing him on an initial loan, Atlético Madrid committed to sign Álvaro Morata permanently last summer, but only if the deal went through this year. With the Spanish side offering up £58.3m (marginally more than Chelsea paid to sign him), it’s no surprise that Chelsea bit their hand off.

    Morata’s time at the Bridge was an unmitigated disaster, and his reputation took a nose dive because of that. The fact that Chelsea had to loan him out in January 2019 showed just how little faith teams across Europe had in him.

    And for some reason, Atlético committed to spend a whopping £58.3m to sign him, and their decision became even more bizarre as Morata was shipped out to Juventus this summer.

    For Chelsea to get that kind of money for a player they wanted rid of and Atlético didn’t even want is nothing short of extraordinary.

    Mario Pasalic
    Pasalic never played a game for Chelsea | Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

    Transferred To: Atalanta (£13.6m)

    Grade: B+

    A lot of the Chelsea fan base didn’t even know who Mario Pašalić was. The 25-year-old Croatian joined Chelsea in 2014 and spent the next six years out on loan, only to find a permanent home in Atalanta this summer.

    It’s deals like this which Chelsea will point to when they face criticism for their hoard of loan players. You might not like the ethics of it, but from a business perspective, it’s genius.

    There’s an argument to suggest that he should have been given a chance at the Bridge after impressing out on loan with Atalanta, but when you get the chance to pocket £13.6m for a player who would probably be nothing more than a rotation option, you can’t say no.

    Ethan Ampadu
    Ampadu headed out for another loan | Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

    Transferred To: Sheffield United (loan)

    Grade: C+

    After a frustrating loan spell with Leipzig last season, Ethan Ampadu needs minutes this year, but could he have found those minutes at the Bridge?

    Lampard still wants to add a defensive-minded midfielder who is comfortable on the ball, with an £80m move for West Ham’s Declan Rice often suggested in the media, but Ampadu looks as though he could have been that player this season.

    Despite being just 20 years old, Ampadu is a natural leader and could have offered something to the Blues this year, but at least he’s out getting some top-flight experience. At the end of the day, that’s all that matters right now.

    Michy Batshuayi
    Batshuayi is back with Palace | Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images

    Transferred To: Crystal Palace (loan)

    Grade: B

    Chelsea need to sell Michy Batshuayi, but the Belgian’s stock isn’t particularly high after tumbling down the pecking order last season.

    Instead of accepting a small bid, Chelsea farmed Batshuayi out on loan to Crystal Palace again in the hope that he’ll start scoring goals and attracting the kind of interest which wasn’t there this summer.

    Chelsea aren’t going to get their money back for Batshuayi, who cost £33m just four years ago, but if they can get anywhere close to that, that’d be great.

    Transferred To: West Bromwich Albion (loan)

    Grade: B+

    After impressing in the Championship with Charlton and Swansea City last season, exciting midfielder Conor Gallagher needed a step up to the Premier League and was given that by West Brom.

    It won’t be easy for the 20-year-old, but that’s what he needs right now. Gallagher should get regular top-flight minutes at The Hawthorns, which will only help him on his quest to make it back at Chelsea in the near future.

    Davide Zappacosta
    Zappacosta returned to Italy | Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

    Transferred To: Genoa (loan)

    Grade: C

    Chelsea’s hands were tied with this one. Davide Zappacosta was supposed to be sold this summer, but after he tore his ACL just minutes into his loan with Roma last season, he was never finding a permanent buyer this year.

    Genoa have given Zappacosta the change to prove himself again, and he already looks like he’ll get regular minutes, which should hopefully encourage more offers next year.

    Ross Barkley
    Barkley has joined Villa | Marc Atkins/Getty Images

    Transferred To: Aston Villa (loan)

    Grade: D+

    With Ross Barkley, it always felt like he should have either stayed as a backup or left permanently. A loan move away seems overwhelmingly pointless.

    Barkley was never going to be a regular starter (nor should he have been), but his departure leaves Chelsea with just two attack-minded midfielders in Havertz and Mason Mount. If one (or both) of that pair get injured, Chelsea’s midfield go back to lacking that ‘oomph’ needed to drive forward.

    In losing that extra option, Chelsea haven’t even earned themselves a transfer fee. They’re a man lighter with nothing to show for it.

    Transferred To: Napoli (loan)

    Grade: C

    Chelsea fans are getting a little sick of seeing Tiemoué Bakayoko return to the Bridge every summer. He needs to go permanently.

    Unfortunately, the permanent bids aren’t coming, and finding a club prepared to pay a decent sum of money at the end of a loan has seemingly proven impossible, and now Bakayoko’s out on loan without an option to buy.

    Napoli still might buy him permanently, but the likelihood is that we’ll be back here again next summer. Sigh.

    Transferred To: Fulham (loan)

    Grade: B-

    The fact that Ruben Loftus-Cheek will be getting regular minutes this season is deserving of an A+. He needs to get back into the swing of things after his Achilles injury if he’s ever going to make it at Chelsea.

    Unfortunately, the fact that he’s joined Premier League strugglers Fulham could well justify an E or an F.

    The only way to look at this loan is from a fitness perspective. Loftus-Cheek doesn’t need to get any better on the pitch this year, but he does need to remember what it feels like to play games. He’ll get that with Fulham, so it’s probably a good move.

    Transferred To: Porto

    Grade: B+

    The first step in the Sarr Project is a move to Porto, who appear prepared to offer the Frenchman a platform upon which he can improve.

    It’s high-level experience for Sarr, who can expect to play regular minutes over the coming year. If things work out and he impresses, there may even be a spot at the Bridge for him next year.

    He might need another loan to prove himself after that, but this is a great first step.

    Chelsea’s Overall Transfer Grade – Summer 2020: B+

    As far an incomings go, this was an unbelievable summer for Chelsea. The squad is unfathomably stronger than it was last season, and the idea of challenging for silverware in the near future doesn’t seem as ridiculous as it once did.

    There’s a real sense of frustration, however, when it comes to outgoings. Very little money was raised through sales, and there’s still plenty of deadwood in the first-team squad after Antonio Rüdiger, Marcos Alonso, Emerson, Kepa Arrizabalaga, Danny Drinkwater and Victor Moses failed to find new homes.

    Nevertheless, there’s no way not to be positive about Chelsea’s summer. The Blues needed to strengthen and they did that better than fans could have ever predicted.

    For more from ​Tom Gott, follow him on ​Twitter!

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