As we go into the final day of the January transfer window, it looks as though Chelsea are going to be as busy as they were in 2011.
Twelve years ago Chelsea confirmed the signings of both David Luiz and Fernando Torres on January’s transfer deadline day, with the two players having differing careers with the Blues — though they both did win the Champions League within five months.
In 2023, Enzo Fernandez is the big target going into the final 24 hours of the transfer window, with Todd Boehly going big. He’s been going big since taking ownership of Chelsea over the summer, signing 11 new players in his first window alone. While three were for the youth system, and one was on loan, Chelsea broke the £50m barrier on three separate occasions.
Raheem Sterling was signed for £50m on the nose, Marc Cucurella was £55m before add-ons and Wesley Fofana became the second-most expensive signing in Chelsea history (at the time) when he joined for £75m. But for all the big-money signings it just hasn’t clicked for Chelsea this season. By the start of September the wheels were falling off and Thomas Tuchel was sacked, replaced almost immediately by Graham Potter.
The former Brighton boss had an excellent start to life at Chelsea, winning five of his first six matches in charge and going unbeaten in his first nine. But the honeymoon period is well and truly over and Chelsea are 10th in the Premier League.
Across all competitions, Chelsea have won just three of their past 12 games with seven defeats, a run which has seen them knocked out of both the Carabao Cup and FA Cup — losing to Manchester City in both competitions — and fail to score on six occasions.
So Chelsea have turned, as they almost always do, to the transfer market. As we hit the final day of the window, Chelsea have made seven signings, more than any other Premier League club.
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Benoit Badiashile was the first to be announced, another £32.7m spent on the Blues defence, with the highly-rated Frenchman signing a massive seven-year contract from Monaco and already slotting into the team.
David Datro Fofana came next, though he was seen around Chelsea before Badiashile’s signing, and he has already made his debut off the bench in the FA Cup. Then came Andrey Santos, an 18-year-old Brazilian who had been playing in his nation’s second tier with Vasco da Gama.
Number four was a loan, with Joao Felix joining from Atletico Madrid until the end of the season, but he has only made once so far after getting sent off with a three-match ban on debut vs Fulham. Then came Mykhailo Mudryk, who impressed on debut coming on as a substitute against Liverpool. And finally (for now), teenage right-back Malo Gusto was signed from Lyon before being sent back to the French club on loan for the remainder of the season.
Who will Chelsea sign on Deadline Day?
Chelsea transfer odds: To sign for 3rd February
|Chelsea winter transfer odds 22/23: To sign for before 3rd February||BetUK|
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Well, as we all know, Enzo Fernandez is Chelsea’s number one priority for Deadline Day and according to the latest reports from transfer guru David Ornstein, the Blues have submitted an offer which would match the midfielder’s release clause – without actually triggering it so they can spread the cost over the length of his contract.
🚨 Chelsea have submitted offer worth €120m for Enzo Fernandez. #CFC insisting on getting deal done. No outcome yet but 22yo Argentina int’l top midfield target all window, talks never stopped + focus is now to avoid summer fight @TheAthleticFC #slbenfica https://t.co/LPyDX3ItBL
— David Ornstein (@David_Ornstein) January 30, 2023
According to other reports, Fernandez himself is now pushing for the move while Benfica board members are trying to persuade club president Rui Costa to accept Chelsea’s deal. For many Chelsea fans, Fernandez’s signing would complete a perfect window for the club considering the circumstances as they look to not only rescue their season but plan for the future.
In recent weeks, Graham Potter has moved to a midfield trio, whether that’s in a 4-3-3/4-1-4-1 or a 3-5-2, and in these formations Fernandez would slot straight into the deepest role. The Argentine is the embodiment of the modern “defensive” midfielder, the No.6 who can both defend and attack, which Chelsea have been missing.
In the past, Jorginho has tried to be that man with differing results, while Mateo Kovacic has also been tested but loses what makes him a good midfielder. So Fernandez would likely be joined by Kovacic and Denis Zakaria, providing all three are fit – which isn’t a guarantee for Chelsea this season.
There are also reports that Jorginho could be on his way out of Chelsea on Tuesday, linked with a move to Arsenal, while Hakim Ziyech is reportedly a target for PSG. Elsewhere, Conor Gallagher is reportedly subject to interest from Newcastle and Everton but has turned down the latter with Chelsea not wanting to sell to the former – a future rival.
Chelsea have also been linked with a move for Moises Caicedo, another potential hijacking of an Arsenal deal, even if they were to secure Fernandez. Midfield has been a weak point for Chelsea this season, which explains why they are once again being linked with Declan Rice. But, once again, a move for the former Chelsea academy kid looks unlikely and they may have missed the boat on Rice with a lack of Champions League football next season all-but confirmed unless they win the competition.
Whatever happens, it’s going to be an interesting day for Chelsea.