Almost everyone following both the global and Premier League stage know that the increasing tension circulating Roman Abramovich and his club Chelsea was bound to prove some serious news in terms of the sale of the club. However, yesterday morning there have been plenty reports regarding the fact that the UK government has imposed heavy sanctions on the Russian billionaire Abramovich and the Champions League title holders, Chelsea.
What does this mean for the club?
This news has hit the club heavily as it hereby means that the club cannot buy new players, sell new tickets for games, sell club merchandise, sell the club unless Roman Abramovich is willing for the UK government to step in and sell it for him in which he then receives no proceedings of the aforementioned sale. Although, this piece is focused on the other side of it all, where Chelsea are not allowed to agree to new contracts with current players.
This puts a major dent in the long (and public) talks with Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen, as well as club captain and skipper Cesar Azpilicueta. While in recent weeks the former two were looking likely to be leaving the club in the summer with Christensen likely set for the Bundesliga or La Liga and Rudiger in repeated talks with European giants Real Madrid.
All this looks bleak and dull for Chelsea fans all over (me included) in having a core defensive cohort of the club walking for free with the club’s hands being tied behind their backs. Nonetheless, there are positives to look at in the grand scheme of things as with most things in life. Firstly, Chelsea have gone down a similar path before in which they were banned from dipping into the transfer window previously (although they managed to cut the ban down to a single window through CAS) in April of 2019. And to make matters worse, it was roughly the same time where then Chelsea cult hero Eden Hazard, made his move to Real Madrid.
Chelsea were smart to get some of their dealings done early, primarily their version of a somewhat like-for-like replacement in then highly rated Christian Pulisic. But this still left them with a unsatisfactory squad and forced them to look into their famed Cobham Academy for help. This, as we now know, proved to be a massive stroke of luck or genius (take it which way you will) whereby they managed to mainly promote the likes of Mason Mount, Reece James, Fikayo Tomori and Tammy Abraham (the latter two sold on for roughly £62M!) and had the loan of Kovacic made permanent that summer.
These moves netted them a cool 4th place finish and into a Champions League spot for the following season, where they went on to win the whole thing and had standout tournament runs from the academy graduates in Mason Mount and Reece James.
Looking at it now, Chelsea currently were in desperate need for a midfielder as well as cover in defence, something they’ve been meaning to address for the past year in Jules Koundé.
Now, the club might once again be forced to dip back into their academy to find more gems in the rough to help Thomas Tuchel challenge for trophies on all fronts. However, they might not have to even look in that direction for a shiny new CB. Levi Colwill, a 19-year old currently out on loan at Huddersfield in the championship, has been more than impressing during his tenure there.
Arguably already a part of what might be the Championship team of the season, he is sure to have suitors come this summer. But just like Tomori and his great loan at Derby, Chelsea would be smart to immediately bring him into the first team set up where other young defenders like Trevoh Chalobah have shined under Tuchel.
While Colwill doesn’t fill any of the outgoing defenders’ shoes completely, he holds many desirable traits of a CB in that he’s quick, aggressive in his defensive duties and has an absolute knack for ball carries.
The next name is more obvious as he has made his mark with Crystal Palace this season and that is Conor Gallagher. The young midfielder has had successful loan after successful loan dating back to his first in 2019 at Charlton Athletic. His best attribute often goes unnoticed and is by far his versatility. He can play the 6, 8 or 10 to a high level which makes him an invaluable squad member for any team. He has been in some sort of a rut in comparison to the superb start to his Premier League account this season but that is mostly down to his midfield partner in James McArthur going down but that has picked right back up in the past two weeks with McArthur coming back. His niche in this Crystal Palace side has been to pick up driving runs forward and to be as effective in that regard.
Another name that deserves to be mentioned purely because of how well he is playing and has no correlation to out of contract players is Armando Broja. The 6’2 forward has taken the league by storm as he has netted 6 goals already in his debut season in the Premier League.
With this situation unravelling even further by the hour, Chelsea can have the slightest bit relief that the next batch of youth coming through Cobham will surely prove to be of a high level on paper.