Chelsea was always going to be busy in January, but the second transfer window has flown by swiftly as Mauricio Pochettino is under pressure to try and turn things around after a poor return to London. By the halfway point of his first season back in England, the manager is not making an impression on the public.
The owners are also receiving fair part of the blame because they haven’t witnessed a performance improvement after taking ownership in May 2022. Since then, things have generally gotten worse, and many have lost faith in the current group as they attempt to undo the harm that has already been done.
Pochettino and Chelsea will be hoping to take advantage of the next window to make sure that performance increases in both categories. However, given the extravagant spending over the last 18 months, there might not be much space for discounts if there are no sales.
Here, football.london provides up-to-date market news along with a distinct viewpoint on the potential implications of specific transactions for both Pochettino and the team. As usual with Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital, let’s start with another child.
Chelsea is reportedly monitoring 20-year-old Peterborough United defender Ronnie Edwards and will consider making another approach for the player next month, despite the pleas for more experience. According to Football.london, Edwards has occasionally been considered by Chelsea and has had bids rejected for the player in 2022.
The Athletic also say that more South American youth prospects are being considered in addition to Edwards. Edwards is a regular for England at both the Under-19 and Under-20 levels, therefore he is already establishing himself in the English game. For this reason, he might be more likely.
football.london states: Edwards aligns well with Chelsea’s goals, but there are concerns about him that are equally relevant to many of the existing squad. Edwards is among the top young defenders in the nation, having made over 100 senior matches before turning 21 years old, but there are some concerning signs.
What may go wrong with Edwards’ deal is more concerning than the man himself. Chelsea already has a wealth of potential, including some of the next big stars. Cobham, La Cobham, is still underutilised after years of being a productive pipeline for top talent.
For many years, Cobham has assisted in the development of players who, on the whole, have outperformed expensive additions to Stamford Bridge. They have since moved on from the Blues and made the sales appear ridiculous and the lack of a path more alarming. While it’s unlikely that Edwards would change, it’s concerning to recruit a young player without giving club-developed players the same opportunities.
Bashir Humphreys is already performing at a better level than Edwards, for instance. He would not cost a thing and is a tall, two-footed, established player in the second tier. Last year, Chelsea offered £10 million for Edwards, but it was turned down. When a player of a similar calibre already exists in the system, there is little reason to sign him.
However, Chelsea hasn’t let this kind of thing deter them lately, and in January and the summer of next year, they will again make the case for moving homegrown players solely for financial gain. It might also free up additional cash for someone like Edwards, who at the proper price will probably be far more valuable in the road.
Nonetheless, if Edwards were to succeed at Humphreys’ expense, it begs the question, “What is the point of Cobham?” once more.
Manchester City is reportedly interested in Ian Maatsen, provided he stays with Cobham and joins the system as one of the system’s underappreciated young players. Despite Josko Gvardiol and Nathan Ake playing on the left this season, The Athletic reports that Pep Guardiola’s team is considering a number of options, including the 21-year-old.
In addition to his preferred position of left back, he has also been played as a winger, attacking midfielder, and occasionally as a wingback. Maatsen has been sidelined for the majority of this season as a near-exclusive substitute, and the club is anticipated to attempt to capitalise on him next month.
According to football.london, Chelsea simply never learns. Even though Marc Cucurella was only on a short loan, they had the opportunity to lose him in the summer, but they chose to play him in a League Cup match, cup tied him, and were left with unpaid salaries. In the meantime, Maatsen has been marginalised.
Despite always being able to play off the bench, his Chelsea debut has not been the first team experience that his abilities merit. Whether it’s because of Maatsen’s height or some extreme tactical experimenting, Pochettino hasn’t given him much of an opportunity since Ben Chilwell’s absence.
If the picture of Ake himself leading the way at the Etihad Stadium on the way to helping City win the treble the previous season wasn’t enough to serve as a reminder, it would take about thirty seconds, if that, for Maatsen’s departure to join Guardiola before anyone felt sorrow for it.
One major problem with Chelsea’s player-trading strategy is that, even if they were to fund these transfers, it would be illogical to allow assets to deteriorate and sell for their lowest possible price. Maatsen, who will cost £30 million this summer, has never played in the Premier League. One more season of playing time would only boost that asking price and improve the club’s image, if—just to explore the possibility—he did need to be sold.
There are no other options. The way that Cobham’s players are being used as number figures is really concerning and hasn’t seems to be leading to any real sporting benefits either; it’s a spectacular lose-lose.