Why Chelsea Have Sold So Many World Class Players

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho (R) talks to Romelu Lukaku.

REUTERS/Eddie Keogh

Chelsea seem to be the undisputed merchants of the Premier League, what with the host of talents that have left the club in one form or another. Simply put, the side is built around the financial ethos of identifying talents, developing those players, and then selling them at a profit, one that has brought them numerous cash cows over the years, particularly in the post-2010 era.

But undeniable in this pattern is the fact that Chelsea are losing out on numerous world-class players, who could have certainly showcased some great displays at the Stamford Bridge, besides aiding the club to silverware.

The Blues certainly have caught wind of this fact, as evident in their attempts to buy back those talents whom they thought to be worth it. The most recent example for this is the club’s summer hunt for Romelu Lukaku from Everton.

The Belgian was sold to Everton in 2014 for a fee of £28 million after having spent time on loan at the Merseyside club, and before that, for West Brom, failing to make the requisite impact in his short tenure as an actual Chelsea player.

A similar plight is to be seen in the cases of David Luiz and Nemanja Matic who, having been involved in a swap deal, have seen eventual returns to the Bridge, twice in the case of the Brazilian.

A big factor influencing these decisions is the youth academy in place at the London club. Hailed as one of the best in the world, the academy is a regular hub at which clubs from across the globe find players up for loan, and more often than not, these individuals become permanent purchases.

With players loaned out to nearly all the top football leagues and in voluminous numbers, the loan system in place alone is a rich source of capable talent. However, these starlets rarely get the chance to qualify straight into the senior team, and even if they do, they don’t get regular playing time, leading to much frustration and eventual exits, as evident in the recent case of Charly Musonda.

Those that do go off gain enough experience at their loaned clubs and stay there, while Chelsea are happy to pocket the loan and transfer fees.

A rare departure from this is the case of Thibaut Courtois, who after being purchased as an upcoming goalkeeper, was loaned off to Atletico Madrid to much success, and the loan fees covered the initial transfer fee, and his eventual return to the Bridge saw him become an instant first-choice keeper.

An important thing to understand here is that a good number of these players don’t exactly start playing in ‘world-class’ fashion till departing Chelsea either. The case of Belgians Lukaku and De Bruyne is an apt example of this.

Shipped off after having missed a controversial penalty in a UEFA Super Cup tie, Lukaku’s eventual tryst at Everton saw him become the club’s all-time leading goal-scorer, and now, his purchase by Manchester United seems to continue his knack for a 20-plus goal tally every season.

In a similar fashion, the £18.7 million for which De Bruyne was sold to Wolfsburg seem like peanuts when one looks at the brilliant fashion with which he is now reigning at Manchester City. He is also the Premier League’s leading goal-creator at the moment.

However, the biggest loss in the current scenario has to be that of Salah. The Egyptian was sold to Roma, and then eventually signed by Liverpool. In his 19 appearances for the London Blues, Salah found the back of the net only twice. In contrast, at Liverpool, the 25-year-old has scored 30 goals in 36 appearances already.

A more infamous aspect of players leaving is also due to fallouts between the club and the managers. Chelsea have always been notorious for hosting spars with their players, and the most recent example is that of Diego Costa, who despite leading the side to both the recent Premier League titles, had a dispute with Antonio Conte. Interestingly, Chelsea were able to offload the striker for an eye-raising £53 million back to Atletico Madrid.

The sales of Juan Mata and Nemanja Matic to Manchester United, however, were more of the nature of talent not fitting at the point. At Old Trafford, Mata has been phenomenal, and it does seem weird that Mourinho thought him unfit at the Bridge. Matic’s sale, on the other hand, defies all logic, and was indeed a sloppy piece of business by the club as evident in their downfall this season.

The likes of Drogba and Petr Cech, however, were simply by virtue of age and to make way for younger talents, but the success that the players have gained at their future clubs, particularly Cech, who is still Arsenal’s first-choice keeper, is bound to be viewed with some envy.

All in all, Chelsea have made a staggering amount of over £500 million in sales since 2014 alone, and that figure on its own, is the biggest reason why the Blues part ways with top talents or potentially top ones so easily – money speaks loud.


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