Tuesday, October 27, 2020

The Blue Mile: A Chelsea Transfer Ban

This morning saw a tsunami hit West London, a Chelsea transfer ban. With the exception of a 5-1 aggregate victory over Sweden’s Malmo FF to ease the Blues into the last 16 of the Europa League this past Thursday; recent times have proved to be very turbulent for Chelsea football club. Manager, Marizio Sarri, marches his men to Wembley this coming Sunday on the back of a 6-0 drubbing to fellow League Cup finalists, Manchester City, and an FA Cup exit courtesy of a 2-0 home defeat at the hands of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s rejuvenated Red Devils.

Before the news broke, it could have been argued that Chelsea’s biggest problems were occurring on the football pitch due to the most recent drab performances by the team and questionable tactical decisions made by Sarri. After the punishment had been announced, there is no doubt that troubles of Chelsea Football Club are indeed larger off the football pitch than on it.

The governing body of association football, FIFA, sentenced the West London side to a fine of two consecutive transfer windows without being able to recruit new players. The Blues are set to start their sentence of no new arrivals this coming summer window at the earliest and would also have to endure the following winter window without the ability to further renew their resources.

FIFA sanctioned the punishment as a result of Chelsea breaching their rules in regards to the international recruitment of players under the age of 18. Chelsea swiftly responded to the news of their fine and released the following statement:

The outcome of Chelsea’s appeal will have a huge impact on the future of the football club. A positive outcome could help see The Blues row alongside their main rivals in the pursuit of trophies. A negative outcome could see the West London club drown beneath the waves of FIFA while their biggest competitors reach the shores of silverware.

The worst case scenario for the club following their appeal would undoubtedly be if FIFA rejected Chelsea’s plea of innocence altogether and enforced their sentence upon the immediate summer and winter transfer windows. Being unable to bring in new talent to West London could end Chelsea’s 2019/20 season before it has even begun.

The manager’s future remains unclear with Sarri. The former Napoli manager is just as likely to walk out of the club as he is to be sacked by the powers above him. If Sarri stays, without being able to bring in his own players over the next two windows, I find it very unlikely that the performances of Chelsea football club will improve which could see them finish outside of the European places, a disaster for a club the size of Chelsea.

Players such as Marcos Alonso have come under fire from the Chelsea faithful and rightly so, there have been too many performances consisting of too little effort from too many individuals in blue. Sarri’s tactical decisions have also proven to be very stubborn and enduring despite the fact that they’re simply not working. On top of that, despite his undoubted quality on the ball, off it Jorginho simply does not provide enough cover or presence to play his midfield role effectively in regards to the defensive aspects of the game.

N’golo Kante is literally a world beater in defensive midfield but plays like Bambi on ice elsewhere on the pitch. I find Sarri’s unrelenting decision in this regard completely baffling and counter productive. Along with that; the continuous substitutions of Kovacic and Ross Barkley between 60-70 minutes of nearly every match has started to resemble an overly long game of musical chairs on the Chelsea bench. All the while, Callum Hudson Odoi has been forced to watch from the sidelines after his move to Bayern Munich had been blocked.

A Chelsea transfer ban
Under fire boss Sarri could exit the blues without a suitable replacement available.

Effect of a Chelsea transfer ban

Should the Italian exit Chelsea, would any creditable manager capable of doing a good job at the club be willing to head to London?

The prospect of being unable to spend money and bring in their own players is an especially daunting task to set a manager in a day and age that sees the top sides spend potentially hundreds of millions of pounds in a single transfer window to allow themselves to merely compete for a finish in the top 4 teams of the Premier League alone – never mind winning the trophy outright!

As well as being unable to recruit players, the club would struggle to keep hold of their best players. With his contract ending in May 2020, star player, Eden Hazard has talked of a move to Real Madrid for years and if the club can’t match his ambition due to being unable to buy players, why would he stay?

Chelsea are certainly capable of offering the Belgian international ludicrously high wages but so are the giants of the Bernabeu, who are also capable of matching a transfer fee with it. Despite the inconsistency of Eden Hazard’s form at times, The Blues would have no way to replace him or any others that might leave.

A Chelsea Transfer Ban
Eden Hazard could swap London for Madrid if Chelsea are unable to recruit new players.

Following the appeal, even if FIFA still find Chelsea to be guilty, the best case scenario for Roman Abramovic’s club would be that the transfer ban be postponed until the winter window of January 2020 at the very earliest. Due to the time it may take to settle the appeal, there may be a delay in the enforcement of the ban. In another case, their protest may result in a slight relent by FIFA and the sentence that they would chose to place on the London team.

If the fine of two consecutive windows without being able to sign new players is, at the very least, delayed until the winter window, it would give Chelsea Football Club ample, as well as a very pricey, opportunity to completely overhaul their squad this summer, regardless of whether it is under the current manager or a new man at the helm as they prepare for a year without new players. A delay in waves could see Chelsea gain exactly what they need in order to stay afloat and keep on rowing.

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