The mess over Romelu Lukaku’s future could not be more of an obvious red flag for Chelsea’s next owners when deciding where funds should be allocated this summer. The Belgian’s future is far from bright, to some supporters, he is almost viewed as poorly as an opposing player within the current squad.
Where Lukaku ends up come the beginning of next season will be a major decision and one that may require an instant loss by new ownership. They are able to justify that this mess was not of their own making and that it is the only amicable solution to a sorry story.
If Lukaku and others walk out the door this summer, it is imperative those who come in are bought with a different mindset. One that is no longer aiming for pure name power and solely what suits this current Chelsea squad under Thomas Tuchel.
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The idea for this piece stemmed from Chelsea’s highly respected reporter Matt Law from The Telegraph. He is a regular guest on the excellent London is Blue Podcast, and among everything surrounding the ownership, Law was asked about transfers and what he expected to happen.
Law predicted in reference to Todd Boehly becoming the preferred bidder last Friday that “I think a new owner with Todd Boehly’s background of spending at the Dodgers and also wanting to make a statement, my prediction is they will sign two defenders, and there will be one statement, eye-catching signing.”
Now the scope for “statement and eye-catching” is highly subjective. Whilst for you, that might be a new flashy attacker, for me, a statement addition in 2022 would be a central midfielder.
But the slight concern over Chelsea’s business, one under new ownership looking to impress, does not go after the biggest name purely because it will give supporters a brief dopamine hit as Lukaku did for us all last summer.
Andriy Shevchenko, Fernando Torres, Alvaro Morata, Kepa Arrizabalaga and Lukaku all show bright red flashing warning signs. In comparison, when you look for the signings that have worked in the past decade, most come under £40m. Nemanja Matic, Cesc Fabregas, Diego Costa, Pedro, N’Golo Kante, Marcos Alonso, David Luiz, Antonio Rudiger, Olivier Giroud, Thiago Silva and Edouard Mendy – just to name a few.
The lure to invest in a marquee attacker might feel instinctive after the attacking issues that have played out this season, but that would be repeating the mindset of 2021 when to a majority of supporters, the clear thing lacking in this squad was a ruthless goalscorer. Clearly, the formula is not that simple and what Lukaku’s arrival has exposed, among other things, is how the specific needs of a team’s tactical profile are not as flexible anymore.
Recruitment has become more refined and advanced, the system comes before the individual, and recruitment should follow that belief. Suppose new owners are looking to spend big. In that case, they should be aiming for a player that can fill into the counter-pressing system of Tuchel, has the versatility to shift across an attacking frontline if needed and be comfortable operating in a team that most weeks dominate possession.
Many variables make a good signing that goes beyond a YouTube compilation or FBRef sheet. What is their character like? The intangibles that no spreadsheet or advanced data will be able to ascribe. Listening to any good scout, they all will stress both aspects here. However, something clearly isn’t working within Chelsea’s current setup if a player as brilliant as Lukaku suddenly looks inept after a £100m deal.
There is temptation to make a splash as Roman Abramovich did in 2003, but the game has moved on, and transfers have also taken another leap. Purely buying the big names is not a guarantee of instant improvement. Over statements, Chelsea’s next era should be looking for competency.
Source by Football London