Well folks, the transfer window in England has come and gone. Chelsea are notorious for the volume of players departing in loan deals as transfer windows abroad close later in August. However, it is now time to take stock and assess the arrivals at Stamford Bridge.
Jorginho – £57 million from Napoli, 14thJuly 2018: It was crucial that Sarri recruited someone familiar with his football and there was no one better than Jorginho. Jorginho will be predominately used as the defensive midfielder in the midfield trio at Chelsea. He will be responsible for orchestrating the play and instructing the other midfielders to press. The 26-year-old Italian is extremely comfortable on the ball so will be a calming presence in the midfield. Jorginho is not notorious for goals with six in 160 appearances at Napoli. Plus, it was one over Manchester City as Pep thought a £46.5 million deal to bring Jorginho in was a done deal. Rating: 8/10.
Robert Green – free transfer from Huddersfield, 26thJuly 2018: Rob Green is a replacement for Eduardo who departed for affiliate club, Vitesse Arnhem. Green will take up the mantle of third-choice keeper so it will be extremely unlikely he will feature for Chelsea. Eduardo spent two seasons at Chelsea and made zero appearances. When there were rumours linking Green to Chelsea, heads would have been scratched but the deal actually makes perfect sense. Green is a home-grown and Chelsea need eight home-grown players as per European competition rules. So, this freed up an outfield position in which Chelsea could sign a non home-grown player. Green also made himself an instant hero with his exceptional penalty save in the International Champions Cup friendly victory over Olympique Lyonnais on Wednesday. Rating: 5/10.
Kepa Arrizabalaga, £71.6 million from Athletic Bilbao, 8th August 2018: Bienvenido, Kepa! Chelsea’s new number one goalkeeper. Arrizabalaga, 23, becomes Chelsea club record signing after the Club triggered his £71.6 million (€80 million) release clause on Wednesday morning. An extremely talented goalkeeper who is extremely comfortable on the ball, something Sarri admires within the qualities of a goalkeeper. Arrizabalaga is a good distributor of the football and is someone who is extremely agile. Chelsea fans, however, will have to be patient in the short-term as the Premier League is completely different league to La Liga. Arrizabalaga’s acid tests will be against the so-called smaller clubs who like to cross the ball in from the wing. I can compare Kepa’s arrival with the arrival of David De Gea in the summer of 2011. De Gea is one of the world’s best but originally struggled with the physicality of the Premier League. So, if Kepa can overcome the physicality aspect of the Premier League then he will be an extremely successful acquisition. The contract length (7 years) symbolise that Chelsea is a long-term project. Short term: be patient, but will prove his quality.
Mateo Kovacic, on loan from Real Madrid, 9thAugust 2018: Kovacic was included in the deal which saw Thibaut Courtois make his inevitable move to the Bernabeu. There was much deliberation with conflicting reports regarding whether there was an option to buy or not. There is no option to buy. The player wanted out of Real Madrid after Lopetegui would not guarantee him a place in the starting eleven. My view is that it doesn’t matter if there is not an option to buy as should he enjoy his football at Chelsea, then a permanent transfer will be likely in the summer of 2019. Chelsea are getting a player who is extremely technical and forward-thinking. Kovacic must rediscover the form which saw him move to Real Madrid in a €30 million deal from Inter Milan in 2015. The only downside is his consistency, so to speak, with managing eight goals and 11 assists in 97 matches during his three seasons at Inter and three goals and eight assists at Real. Rating: 6/10.
So, the transfer window is closed until January and Maurizio Sarri has to make do with his squad for a number of months. The aforementioned signings are “decent” signings and smart: for example, the loan deal of Kovacic allowed Chelsea to stump up the £71.6 million required which secured the signing of Kepa. Jorginho is the best buy out of the lot as it will be a seamless transition from Napoli to Chelsea, especially as he is the most familiar with Sarri’s style of play. However, I don’t want to be negative but I do feel Chelsea are a striker off genuinely competing alongside Liverpool and Manchester City for the title. Morata, Giroud, Batshuayi and Abraham, with all due respect does not inspire and I cannot see any of them getting 20 goals per season. Hopefully I am wrong. We should have capitalised on Liverpool’s debacle regarding Nabil Fekir and even put in a cheeky £65-70 million bid for Anthony Martial who is clearly wanting a move away from Manchester United.