Chelsea has been negotiating a transfer fee for Moises Caicedo with Brighton & Hove Albion for the better part of five weeks now, and the Seagulls seem hell bent on getting as high as £100million for the Ecuador international. The Blues are hesitant, and understandably so, because it means that they would be spending over £200m on two central midfielders, who are ultimately not match winners. Todd Boehly’s camp wants to bring the price closer to the £80 million mark, but Brighton are refusing to play ball, so what should the Blues’ owner do?
Boehly should set an ultimatum for the Caicedo deal, but it would not be so easy. The first thing to consider is the leverage both parties have in this potential deal, as the outcomes of high profile transfers like this usually are dependent on where majority of the leverage falls. Chelsea broke their transfer record for Enzo Fernandez in January 2023 during deadline day.
Fernandez signed for £102m after having only played 17 games in the Liga Portugal and had just won the FIFA World Cup a month prior. Unfortunately, this set a precedent, not just for future high profile transfers, but most importantly for future high profile transfers involving Boehly’s camp. Caicedo nearly moved in January, but Brighton was able to hold on to him by getting him to sign a new long term contract.
That long term contract, in addition to the desperation Chels‘ displayed in the Fernandez deal, has put the Blues at a disadvantage now. Caicedo is also a central midfielder under 23, and the football world now knows that Boehly would do anything to secure a player he believes in. This means Brighton have no incentive to demand less than the money paid for Fernandez, and the long term contract the Brighton midfielder signed six months ago means that the Ecuador international is in no position to force a move. This gives Brighton all the leverage they need to get whatever they want from this deal.
Levi Colwill is another important factor in this deal. Brighton has expressed interest in the player, and it is understood that it would be faster to agree a deal if Colwill is involved in the transfer. He has talked glowingly about Brighton, but Chelsea has firmly refused to include him in any deal.
This is where Chelsea needs to take a page out of Brighton’s playbook, because East Sussex club has signed Igor Julio, a left footed centerback who’s a great passer of the ball. Roberto De Zerbi himself said the Julio deal is in case the club is unable to get Colwill to sign on the dotted line. This means that while the Seagulls will continue to try to get Colwill, they would not be desperate, and most importantly, Boehly knows that they are not desperate.
Boehly should do the same. CFC has some of the best scouting networks available in the game, and Mauricio Pochettino has a clear idea of what he wants in a central midfielder. The Blues can get a central midfielder through the door who they would not need to guarantee a key role, but who is competent enough to play the role if they don’t get Caicedo over the line. This would put the Blues in a better position for the new season, and also give them some leverage in the Caicedo deal.
If a central midfielder comes through the door, the Blues can put a “take it or leave it” offer on the table to Tony Bloom’s camp and actually be prepared to walk away. This would show the seasiders that while Caicedo is considered a priority target, the club would not do “anything” to get him, and would walk away from the deal if the terms are not suitable. As things stand, Brighton would be prepared to drag these negotiations for as long as possible, and they are emboldened by Mauricio Pochettino’s team’s seeming lack of interest in alternatives who can play a similar role.