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Chelsea Spent a BILLION Euros on Players - But Who Are They?

5 minute read Published November 14, 2023

Before we get started on today’s newsletter, let’s have a quick update about some of the newsletters that have gone out in the past months.  

Almost two months ago we spoke about how Ajax were off to the worst start in the history of the club. Well, things went from bad to worse as the Amsterdam club is now dead last in the league. At the end of October, after a 5-2 defeat to PSV, Alfred Schreuder was sacked and John van't Schip was brought in as interim manager. Since then they’ve seen some improvement, winning two and drawing one game in the league, while losing to Brighton in the Champions League.

About a month later, we covered how Girona’s start to the season was incredible, as the team held second place and was sandwiched in between Real Madrid and Barcelona. Girona’s form has kept up and they now sit top of the table, two points ahead of Real Madrid, and four ahead of Barcelona.

I’ve barely recovered from Sunday night’s absolute banger of a game between Chelsea and Man City. What. A. Game. Tenth placed Chelsea took on first placed Manchester City, but it definitely didn’t look like a mid table vs top of the table match up.

What it also doesn’t look like is the Chelsea team you recognize from two or even last season. If you’ve watched Chelsea this year, most likely you’ve said “Who is that?” at least a few times per game.

Out of the 20 players selected for the game, only two played for the Chelsea first team two seasons ago. TWO! A few belonged to the club but were out on loan and some came through the academy. But as first team players, only two. Eleven players joined the first team in 2023 and seven players joined two seasons ago.

Robert Sanchez 23/24
Reece James 19/20
Axel Disasi 23/24
Thiago Silva 20/21
Marc Cucurella 22/23
Moises Caicedo 23/24
Enzo Fernandez 23/24
Cole Palmer 23/24
Conor Gallagher 22/23*
Raheem Sterling 22/23
Nicolas Jackson 23/24
Benoit Badiashile 22/23
Mykhailo Mudryk 22/23
Noni Madueke 22/23
Lesley Ugochukwu 23/24
Armando Broja 22/23*
Malo Gusto 23/24**
Djordje Petrovic 23/24
Ian Maatsen 23/24*

23-year-old Reece James is by some margin the club veteran, having been part of the first team since the 19/20 season. Thiago Silva, who joined only three seasons ago, has been at the club the second longest.

Granted, Connor Gallagher, Ian Maatsen and Armando Broja came through the academy (*) and Malo Gusto spent last season under contract with Chelsea but on loan at Olympique Lyon (**). So, that begs the question - who are all these players?

The Newcomers

Some of these players are very familiar to those who follow the Premier League. Moises Caicedo and Robert Sanchez for example came to Chelsea this summer after impressive performances at Brighton last season. Raheem Sterling surely needs no introduction, as a star of the league and English national team for many years.

And of course, Enzo Fernandes came in from Benfica after a breakthrough tournament at midfield for Argentina at the 2022 Qatar World Cup.

Let’s have a look at some of the lesser known players that played yesterday and have joined Chelsea this summer. Just as a reference here’s the search interest for some of the players before and after they came to the club. Look at the difference, there was barely any interest at all before this summer.

Nicholas Jackson is a Senegalese striker who came to Chelsea from Villareal, a team that over performed last year and managed to clinch a spot in the Europa League. After breaking into the Villareal first team in 2021 he quickly became a star and was actually on his way to Bournemouth in January of this year but failed a medical ahead of that move.

Cole Palmer is probably the most recognisable of these players, for someone who follows the Premier League as he played for Manchester City last year. The young Manchester native made 14 appearances last season but mostly off the bench, getting very limited playing time. Before this season Palmer decided he wanted to move in order to break into first team football as felt that would be a long road at Manchester City. Guardiola mentioned before yesterday’s game that he wanted to keep Palmer and that with Mahrez gone, he’d get chances. But Palmer's mind was set.

Lesley Ugochukwu joined Chelsea from Rennes where he was born and raised rising through the ranks of the club's youth system. Having been part of the first team squad in 21/22 the defensive midfielder had his breakthrough last season when he got 26 appearances. 

Alex Disasi might be familiar to those who follow Ligue 1 as he’s been a Regular starter as a centre back for Reims and Monaco for the last four seasons. Originally from Gonesse, the 24 year old started his professional career playing for Paris FC in Ligue 2. 

Malo Gusto actually signed for Chelsea last season from Olympique Lyon but the right back was immediately loaned back to the French club. The loan was up at the end of last season and Malo Gusto was brought to join the first team squad. Malo Gusto makes three French defensive players that have joined the London club this summer.

Final Thoughts

So, after having bought players for more than a billion euros, Todd Boehly’s experiment is starting to take shape. What do you think? Will doing it this way, replacing practically the entire team in two seasons work out for Chelsea?

Despite their position in the league, Chelsea actually look solid but they’ve been lacking the end product. The team is almost entirely made up of players new to the team, clearly they need some time to get familiar with each other.

Plus, Pochettino is a great coach. The team he has will need a lot of guidance. Most are young, have moved from a smaller club and will feel a different kind of pressure being at one of the biggest clubs in the biggest league in the world. He did very similar work with a young Tottenham squad and took them all the way to a Champions League final.


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