It seems incredibly obvious and redundant to say, but Chelsea’s greatest threat in the upcoming transfer window is competition. Advantages before are disadvantages now.
The big advantage Chelsea had last summer was the pile of cash they were sitting on post transfer ban that no other European rival had. In a year where Covid wrecked finances, Chelsea was still sitting on a pile of Eden Hazard money. The Blues were able to use that, and a lack of competition, to go on a spending spree last summer.
With talks of warchest 2.0 incoming, it is worth mentioning that advantages for the Blues before are advantages for others now. As the Covid crisis ends, teams will be more willing to spend even if they don’t necessarily have the cash available. If nothing else, they will at least have a picture of where it’ll come from, so they can hedge their bets ahead of time.
And it’s also worth noting how similar the situations at clubs like Real Madrid and Bayern Munich may be to Chelsea last season. They didn’t have a transfer ban, but spending was tight and clubs like that largely had to stick with the squad they had. This summer, however, they will be eager to reinforce stagnating squads just like Chelsea did a year ago. Chelsea may have a similar amount of money to throw around, but they have lost the free path they had to several players last season.
Hakim Ziyech was done nearly right away after January. Only Chelsea seemed to be truly in for free agent Thiago Silva and Ben Chilwell. The Blues went for Timo Werner only when Liverpool pulled out and they likely went for Kai Havertz in large part because no one else could. Edouard Mendy was also a rather simple transfer.
Those conditions do not exist this summer and, if anything, the Blues have already been on the losing end of a few deals. Dayot Upamecano will be a Bayern Munich player. David Alaba and his ridiculous wage demands are too rich for even Chelsea’s blood. And with each passing day, it seems increasingly likely that Erling Haaland goes somewhere like Real Madrid instead of the Blues.
It is not as though Chelsea isn’t used to competition in the transfer market, it is simply that the unique conditions of last season for the Blues are now replicated for their rivals. Other teams are as hungry as Chelsea was post transfer ban and it is hard to keep up with clubs that suddenly have more money than sense.
All is not lost for Chelsea though, as a more competitive market may force the Blues to be smarter about their transfers. Signing Silva and Mendy shows that the Blues can think outside the box and get players in that aren’t exactly super star signings, but who can play like super stars for a lower price.
Want a striker? Haaland is the “obvious” choice but there may be a Didier Drogba out there to unearth. This doesn’t mean Chelsea can’t still go for Haaland, it is simply that it will be far more difficult than transfers last season and outside of the box thinking will be required to keep an edge.