Chelsea verdict: Boehly took a break from the transfer cart scoreboard to watch the Saints defeat… and might think he was ripped off
TODD BOEHLY took the time to play fantasy football to watch some of the real thing.
As president, co-owner and leader of Chelsea, Boehly will have been bitterly disappointed to see his team lose.
And as the Blues’ interim sporting director, he would be forgiven for thinking he and the club are being exploited in their unprecedented summer shopping spree.
Or, at the very least, that the law of diminishing returns applies as much, if not more, in football than in any other type of business.
While Boehly and some of his fellow Chelsea managers were at St Mary’s, you can only assume others were working on their behalf on an alleged £77million deal to sign Josko Gvardiol from RB Leipzig.
Wesley Fofana arrived for £75million just days before, following the £62million splashed out on Marc Cucurella earlier this month.
Kalidou Koulibaly’s £33million transfer feels like an eternity, such has been the quick pace and bounty of Boehly’s cart scoreboard.
Chelsea’s defense, made up of 30-somethings Cesar Azpilicueta, Thiago Silva and Koulibaly, certainly needed a refresh.
And given their ages, Gvardiol (20) and Fofana (21) could be assets for Chelsea for a decade.
But are they really nearly £70m better than Armel Bella-Kotchap, the 20-year-old centre-back who Southampton signed from German club Bochum for £8m?
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The superb early tackle Bella-Kotchap produced on Raheem Sterling was just the start of another impressive performance.
Yes, SURE Chelsea and Southampton have very different goals this season. The kind of players who will improve a Blues side that won the Champions League 15 months ago are rare and therefore expensive.
But THIS Dear?
If the deal with Gvardiol materializes, we can surely assume that the Blues’ central defense should be OK for a while.
Boss Thomas Tuchel is said to remain unhappy with his midfield options. That’s why rumors of a £70million deal for Frenkie De Jong won’t go away.
Again, though, you watched Romeo Lavia more than hold on for the home side, and thought to yourself: has the world gone mad?
There’s a reason Manchester City put buy-and-sell clauses in the £10.5m deal (rising to £14m) which took the 18-year-old to St Mary’s .
If the defensive midfielder can keep adding the odd goal to everything he does – his equalizer made him the first 2004-born player to score in the Premier League – he’ll be worth much more than that very soon. Although not quite as soon as he could have, after stopping early in the second half in a sprint to make up for his own error.
City also knew what they were doing when they sold goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu to Saints for £15million on similar terms. Could he have done better than his Chelsea counterpart, Edouard Mendy, to try to stop Lavia’s shot?
Kai Havertz (an initial fee of £62m) and Hakim Ziyech (£35m) have kept up the habit of not honoring their fees (although you can’t put a price tag on Havertz’ winning goal in the Champions League).
That’s why pre-match rumors that the Blues were considering late moves for WIlfried Zaha or Neymar, in addition to or instead of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s frustrating pursuit, weren’t dismissed out of hand. .
Suffice to say, of Chelsea’s summer signings so far, only £50m Raheem Sterling really fits the bill. But his opening goal was the only highlight for the Blues of a night when Southampton looked much more like a team.
If you’re Chelsea, buying players is the easy part, especially when clubs and agents see you coming a mile away, as they seem to do with Boehly.
Molding them into an effective unit is much more difficult.
Boehly has just over 48 hours of fun to enjoy. Then it’s up to Tuchel.