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The visible collapse of one of European football’s biggest names in Chelsea FC this season has been unfathomable to fans, after spending a huge 434.5 million pounds this past summer - the most spent by any club during a transfer window in Premier League history.
After winning the UEFA Champions League and placing third in the Premier League in the 2021-22 season, Chelsea struggled to remain the same dominant force the following season, placing twelfth in the Premier League and missing out on Champions League qualification.
The 2022-23 Chelsea squad consisted mainly of the same players that saw so much glory in the 2021-22 season, leading fans to believe the success would remain and the team would continue to be great.
However, following the aforementioned disappointing 2022-23 campaign, Chelsea took to the markets this past summer in search of new talent, hoping that money meant results.
Chelsea broke the British transfer record to land Moises Caicedo from Brighton for 115 million pounds, making the defensive midfielder one of the most expensive Premier League transfers of all time. Chelsea also went on to sign Ukrainian winger Mykhailo Mudryk from Shakhtar Donetsk in a deal worth 88.5 million pounds. An expensive fee for a young player who has never set foot in the Premier League.
However, the Blues didn’t stop there. They splashed more cash on the French international duo in Christopher Nkunku and Axel Disasi from RB Leipzig and AS Monaco for a combined 90.5 million pounds. They also signed Brighton goalkeeper Robert Sanchez for 25 million pounds as a direct replacement for former Chelsea keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.
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Fans were excited about the newcomers, as they were all performing exceptionally at their previous clubs and were expected to recreate the same magic for the Blues. Fans were especially excited about the Caicedo and Mudryk signings, as the two young talents were seemingly unstoppable.
Chelsea entered the 2023-2024 season with their new team and newly appointed head coach in Mauricio Pochettino with high hopes that were quickly crushed, as they won one game in their first six to start the season. The Blues then went on to win 3 straight, but have since struggled to string more than two wins together, placing them in the eleventh spot in the table this season with nine wins, four draws, and 10 losses.
Astonished with their performances, Chelsea took to the market once more to sign another handful of players, including 21-year-old star boy Cole Palmer, who has seemingly been Chelsea’s only success this season. He has played a total of 22 matches for Chelsea and has scored 12 of their goals, nearly a third of their total goals on the season.
Despite signing a dominant attacking force on paper, Chelsea has struggled to net the ball this year scoring only 38 goals, while conceding 39.
Coach Mauricio Pochettino weighed in on their struggles and strongly believes last season's results have had an impact on this season’s outcome as well.
“When you feel so disappointed because of last season, you lose too many games at home, the energy is a little bit down.
Despite this, he feels the energy at home has been good this season:
“Now people can give their opinion, it’s a bit flat. There’s been disappointment for a long period. But how we feel at Stamford Bridge is very good.
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Chelsea’s main issues seem to be finishing chances, team chemistry with all of the new signings, and most importantly, a lack of leadership and experience on the team. Chelsea’s current squad contains just three outfield players - Thiago Silva, Ben Chilwell and Raheem Sterling - aged over 26. Chelsea has the third youngest squad in the Premier League, with an average age of 24 years and 352 days across a 40-player roster.
Injuries have also plagued the Blues this season. Captain Reece James has been injured since December following surgery on a recurring hamstring issue and is not expected to return until March or April of this season. Stellar centre-back Wesley Fofana has been injured since the US pre-season tour after he tore his ACL, and is not expected to return until June. New summer signing Christopher Nkunku was injured for the majority of the beginning of the season, only returning recently which greatly impacted early season results.
With the team back to full strength, fans can hope for a slight improvement in the quality of play, especially with the return of the skipper. However, with a lack of chemistry and goal-scoring capabilities exemplified all season so far, fans should not get their hopes up too soon.
Another restructuring for the Chelsea squad could be on the cards this summer. Fans will be hoping that this time around, it’s quality over quantity in terms of player ability and money spent.
Edited By: Josh Reidelbach
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