How much did chelsea spend in january ? By all accounts Arsenal was very much in the running to sign Ukrainian superstar Mykhailo Mudryk during the January transfer window. As the current Premier League leader, the 22-year-old forward had the potential to be a pivotal addition in the title race.
Mudryk’s acquisition – as well as the deadline day, British-record $132 million deal for Enzo Fernández – demonstrated what a manic January transfer window it’s been Chelsea, one in which the club’s spending has topped $350 million, according to Transfermarkt, and which has seen eight players arrive, including a raft of attackers.
Back in May, the UK government approved the sale of Chelsea to an ownership group led by Boehly in a deal worth more than $5 billion.
Chelsea was previously owned by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, who put the club up for sale in early March following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, saying at the time it was “in the best interest of the Club.”
In May, UK government added Abramovich to its list of sanctioned individuals as part of its efforts to “isolate” Russian President Vladimir Putin following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Boehly’s reign has already seen him get rid of coach Thomas Tuchel, who guided Chelsea to its second Champions League title in 2020/21, replacing the German with Graham Potter.
As well as Chelsea, Boehly has invested in a number of sporting franchises, including stakes in the MLB’s Los Angeles Dodgers, the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers and the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks.
Since arriving at Chelsea, it’s estimated that Boehly has spent over $600 million on transfers. Barely a day has gone by in January without Chelsea being linked with a host of players.
“I think at least the past month has been pretty exciting as someone who’s been covering it,” Dan Dormer of the ‘London Is Blue Podcast’ told CNN Sport.
“It also has been a little draining because it feels like every day we’re waking up to a new link or a new story.”
Wheeling and dealing
While players have arrived, Chelsea’s results have been inconsistent – for the time being – as evidenced by the club’s fans pining for days gone by and singing, “We’ve got Super Tommy Tuchel,” during their team’s 4-0 hammering by Manchester City in the FA Cup in early January.
But Boehly’s splurge on new talent has never wavered.
“We’re all in – 100% – every minute of every match. Our vision as owners is clear: we want to make the fans proud,” said Boehly in a statement, released when his purchase of Chelsea was completed.
“Along with our commitment to developing the youth squad and acquiring the best talent, our plan of action is to invest in the Club for the long-term and build on Chelsea’s remarkable history of success.”
In his first full transfer window last summer as the club’s interim sporting director, Boehly and Chelsea spent a reported $302.08 million on new signings, according to Transfermarkt. Chelsea never reports how much the club spend on transfers and chose not to comment when offered the chance by CNN on the club’s recent outlay on new players.
Boehly has gone out of his way to attempt to make the transition to life under Potter as smooth as possible, bringing in many of the former Brighton manager’s coaching and backroom staff to assist him.
Meanwhile Christopher Vivell joined as Chelsea’s technical director from RB Leipzig in Germany in December.
“He [Boehly] will provide important support to Graham and the ownership group and play a vital part in advancing our overall vision for the club,” Boehly told the club’s website when Vivell was appointed.
According to Dormer, Chelsea has never adequately replaced technical director Michael Emenalo, who left the club in 2017.
“If you think about it, over different managers, it’s like they were each a different kid and they requested a different Lego set, and they’re trying to build one unified project. And that means at times, not all the pieces fit together,” said Dormer.
The January transfer window is often viewed as the worst time to buy players, given clubs don’t want to lose valuable assets and arguably hold the upper hand in negotiations. Not that that has deterred the Blues.
As well as Mudryk, Benoît Badiashile, Noni Madueke, Malo Gusto, Andrey Santos, David Datro Fofana and Fernández were all signed on permanent deals while Portuguese superstar João Félix arrived on loan from Atlético Madrid.
Money, money, money
Big spending on transfers has almost rebounded to pre-pandemic levels this year, with Chelsea leading the pack.
According to the 2022 Global Transfer Market report published by FIFA, a total of $6.5 billion was spent by clubs in 2022, up 33.5% from $4.86 billion in 2021, but still below the levels of $6.94 billion in 2018 and $7.35 billion in 2019.
With over $600 million spent on new players by Chelsea alone, there have been questions about football’s financial regulations.
Chelsea is navigating the financial fair play regulations of both the Premier League and European football’s governing body, UEFA, by the process of amortization – giving players longer contracts so the cost of a transfer is spread across a number of years.
In Mudryk’s case, the Ukrainian signed an eight-and-a-half-year deal with the Blues, meaning his almost $110 million transfer fee will cost the club roughly $13 million a year. Fernandez also signed on an eight-and-a-half year contract at Stamford Bridge, according to the BBC.
Financial football expert Kieran Maguire – who says that he’s found Chelsea’s sudden transfer spending “strange” given the usual cautiousness of Clearlake Capital, the investment fund involved in the takeover – explained that amortization can be positive in the immediate future but has long-term consequences.
“It’s a very high risk strategy because what happens if those players turn out to be duds?” Maguire told CNN Sport.
“You are then committed to paying the players’ wages over that six, seven, eight-year period.
Why Chelsea’s obscene January spending is just the start
As the hours ticked by in the tortuous talks for Enzo Fernandez, the Chelsea negotiation team were insisting it could be done. Todd Boehly was determined. The approach the club have taken – beyond being willing to spend as much as they can – is that if there is some kind of problem that prevents a deal, they will try and solve it there and then.
The problem in this case was Benfica’s insistence that Fernandez’s release clause be paid, with Chelsea making a lot of offers on structure. They ultimately worked a way around that, though, while keeping within their own Financial Fair Play (FFP) calculations. Benfica have become famous for how assertive they are in negotiations, but Chelsea are already renowned for their distinctive approach, and infamous for that expenditure.
It is like “the early days of the Roman Abramovich spending sped up”, in the words of one senior football figure, who complained “they are in everyone’s business”.
Chelsea’s £300m-plus spend this January is not just more than the entire Premier League in this window last year. It’s the first time in history one club has outspent all of the other four major leagues combined.
That is not good for the sport or any ideas of competitive balance. It certainly isn’t something to celebrate as if it’s some kind of victory.
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