Transfer deadline day: Premier League round-up
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On the face of it, Chelsea ended up weakening their options in central defence during the summer transfer window. The club sold Kurt Zouma and Fikayo Tomori and loaned out Ethan Ampadu without bringing in further reinforcements.
That was not for a lack of trying. Chelsea tried hard to sign Jules Kounde from Sevilla, but the transfer fell through before the August 31 deadline with the Spanish club playing hard ball over the fee.
The Blues were reluctant to meet the release clause in Kounde’s contract, which reportedly stands at £77million, and Sevilla stuck to their guns.
That means that, while they have strengthened through the signings of Romelu Lukaku and Saul Niguez, their defence is in a different state.
Kounde’s quality is undeniable: he is one of the most promising young defenders in Europe and would have made a good addition to Thomas Tuchel’s squad.
However, Chelsea’s failure to get the deal over the line could yet prove to be a blessing in disguise for Tuchel.
Here are the reasons for Chelsea fans to be cheerful.
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Working with a large group of players may appear advantageous on paper, but it can prove to be more hassle than it is worth.
Many managers actually prefer having a small, tight-knit squad and a roster which includes Thiago Silva, Andreas Christensen, Antonio Rudiger, Cesar Azpilicueta and Trevoh Chalobah still has impressive depth.
“I am absolutely happy with our squad and the alternatives we have,” Tuchel said after the window closed.
“That means we maybe don’t have the biggest squad but that we have a very competitive squad in all positions.
“This, on one hand, is necessary because we play a lot of competitions and we play the World Club Cup in December.”
The Blues’ matches so far in 2021/22 have been notable for the breakthrough of Chalobah, who has shown himself to be ready for first-team football.
The 22-year-old defender looked completely at ease and assured against Villarreal in the Super Cup and in scoring against Crystal Palace a few days later.
Chelsea’s record of giving youngsters a chance to excel is not the best, with armies of them out on loan, but Chalobah now has the chance to buck the trend.
“It’s been a great start and it was a complete surprise,” he told the club website recently.
Had Kounde joined then Chalobah would have slid further down the pecking order.
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But now, with Silva approaching the end of his career and Tuchel often playing a three-man defence, he should be given plenty of minutes.
Sevilla manager Julen Lopetegui has addressed Kounde’s situation with the club following the collapsed transfer to Chelsea.
“Kounde in the end has stayed because the club has decided that it was the right thing to do based on the evaluation of the offers they may have had,” he told Diario de Sevilla.
“We trust that he continues to grow with us and, above all, to perform, which is the most important thing.”
However, if reports in Spain are to be believed, Kounde is currently ‘furious’ with the Spanish club for blocking his move to London.
It remains to be seen if the player and club can reconcile, but it seems likely the 22-year-old will get a move soon enough.
If Chelsea play their hand well, it could be that Kounde’s unhappiness and determination to move work in their favour.
A cut-price transfer in the January transfer window could still materialise, allowing them the best of both worlds.
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