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Is Chelsea’s new transfer policy for the good?

roman abramovich during chelsea vs blackburn
Looking to make Chelsea self sufficient.

Roman Abramovich usually gets what he wants. Back in 2003, he wanted Chelsea to win every title that was possible to win. And he was willing to pay any price for it. Apart from winning the Champions League, you have to say he has been pretty successful in that just as he has been in his business through which he has amassed his £11 billion fortune. Fast forward seven years and the scenario has completely changed. Now he wants Chelsea to be self sufficient. He wants players from the youth academy to supplement the players in the first team. Whether Roman is going to be successful in his new dream remains to be seen. But is it the way forward for Chelsea?

Looking from outside it might look as if Roman has suddenly become a sensible man. Or probably the recession has affected him just as it had done everyone else. But once you learn how much he has
invested in the youth structure, the new training ground at Cobham it is pretty obvious that all these were planned from the moment he took over from Ken Bates in 2003. Roman Abramovich has quite literally changed the face of Chelsea Football Club. Apart from the stadium, which due to constraints of space cannot be expanded, he has developed everything related to Chelsea FC. He has spent some £700 million of his own money for Chelsea knowing probably that he might not get that back.

Chelsea FC is a business organisation making a turnover of nearly £250 million each year and losing nearly £40 million. It is not viable for such a business organisation to lose that kind of money every year. The club has also the highest wage bill of £140 million in the league. The club have finally realized that wage bill is more significant than transfer fees and they have to concentrate in reducing that. That is one of the reasons behind the reluctance to giving Joe Cole his reported £120,000 a week wage demands. Gone are the days when players were awarded huge five year contracts. But in his drastic measures to cut costs is he going to sacrifice the growth of the club?

Chelsea has for a fact, a fantastic youth academy which many people are unaware of. And one of the reasons for that is Frank Arnesen, who is currently the Director of Football. He is widely acclaimed as one of the best in that business having discovered the likes of Ronaldo and Robben to name a few. It might seem that he has not done a lot during his 5 years with the club after moving from Tottenham in 2005. That is mainly due to the fact that Chelsea could always go out and buy a player for a position instead of developing them because of which young players from the academy didn’t feature in the first team and were constantly sent out on loan for lower league club. Not anymore. Ancelotti has recently said

“The only sure thing will be that next season there will be five academy players in the squad. Some players will maybe move on. It’s not because we don’t have the money, it’s because we want to give strength to our academy. We have very good young players and this is the time to put them in the squad for next year.”

The players from the reserves that Ancelotti mentioned are Gael Kakuta, Nemanja Matic, Fabio Borini, Patrick Van AanHolt and Jeffrey Bruma. All these players have already featured in the first team this season and they have not disappointed. They are second to none when it comes to skill on the ball, technicality and pace. I think that with the exception of Matic, who I have not seen much, all the others are outstanding. Especially Van AanHolt and Bruma look like regular first team players with their composure and ability to read the game. The one thing they lack is match experience. Whether they can step up in crunch situations is to be seen.

patrick van aanholt during chelsea vs aston villa
Van Aanholt in action against Aston Villa.

The five players tipped to leave could be anyone of Belletti, Ballack, Carvalho, Ferreira, Deco and Joe Cole. It is worth noting that apart from Joe Cole every player is above thirty. A fact that has been mentioned time and time again in the papers is about the squad’s age and finally the clubs hierarchy seems to have heard it. But with age comes experience. All these players have huge experience and will losing them all in one summer affect the squad?

Arsene Wenger has made Arsenal a role model for other clubs trying to be self sufficient. They bring players from the academy. Play football the way it is meant to be played and have a wonderful stadium which seats in 60,000 every home game. They move on players who are above thirty. As a result they have developed massively as a business organisation, recently going as high as fifth in the Deloitte Rich list, second only to Manchester United in England. All this is well and good on paper but when you look at what they have won in the last five years, it is as full as their player’s experience. They have gone backwards as a football club. And now with the likes of Manchester City with their billions it is a real doubt whether they can win another trophy in another five years.

That is the situation Chelsea have to contemplate. Achieving a balance between youth and experience. Whatever happens, the summer of 2010 is going to play a huge part in the club’s future. It is one of the most important summer’s after 2003 and Chelsea have to get it right because it is trophies that speak about a club not the rankings in Deloitte Rich List. For all Real Madrid’s wealth and the great players that have played for the club, it is their record nine Champions League trophies and 31 league titles that indicates their greatness. It is therefore vital that Chelsea get the balance right.