Chelsea transfer ban: A blessing in disguise? Not really
FIFA announced on 22nd February that Chelsea have been handed a transfer ban for 2 windows. This meaning that the club would not be able to register any new players until the ban is lifted. They would, however, be free to sell if they like.
Chelsea then issued a statement that they would appeal against the transfer ban. Given what happened with Real Madrid in the past, having their ban reduced to just 1 window, the club would hope for something similar.
Since the news broke, many have been saying this would be a blessing in disguise as Chelsea would finally use their loan army. Only if it were that simple.
I feel differently and below are the reasons why.
Maurizio Sarri's future is under threat no doubt, but what happens if he is sacked? There are reports that Steve Holland would be the interim manager. And after that? Who is going to come to Chelsea knowing the club has a transfer ban? New managers would like to invest and buy players that suit their style. There's no stability at the club and no top manager would be interested.
Clearly, this team has not yet picked up "Sarri-Ball" and are nowhere even close to it. Knowing Sarri, he is not going to change his formation. And with no new players, he will continue playing the same game, the same 4-3-3 style, the same substitutions, and no plan B. All this will eventually lead to Sarri's exit.
I am all for backing the manager as long as he shows his commitment and desire to change things, to try other options, to mix things up. Even Pep Guardiola in his first season didn't stick to one game plan. He didn't stick to a group of players.
But sadly, Sarri doesn't really care about that. One can argue that he needs players more suited to his style, but the Transfer Ban says "Hi".
What happens to the current set of players?
Eden Hazard's contract runs out at the end of next season and is yet to sign a new deal. He openly flirts with Real Madrid and doesn't look like he would like to stay at Stamford Bridge. So what's next?
Chelsea can keep him until his contract runs out and then let him leave on a free transfer. Well, that's quite a loss. Sure, he might only have a year left in his contract but the club can still get around £100m+ from the transfer fee and invest that amount in the market. Either way, the transfer ban is not helping Chelsea make their case for him to stay!
Higuain and Kovacic?
Now, Gonzalo Higuain was a Sarri signing and if the Italian manager is shown the door, the club might not keep Higuain. Well, even if they did want to, it all comes down to Higuain. He wanted to work with Sarri and even made it clear in the summer that it was only Sarri that really wanted him at Stamford Bridge.
Higuain's deal is more of an incentive-based loan agreement, maning that clauses get triggered upon reaching certain targets like goals, appearances, etc. However, a ban could cause problems.
Another player on loan from Real Madrid until the end of the season is Mateo Kovacic. A transfer ban would not allow Chelsea to sign the Croatian midfielder though the player would like to stay at Stamford Bridge.
Coming to the youth, which everybody has been talking about as a "blessing in disguise."
Yes, Chelsea have over 40 players on loan this season, but how many of them are actually capable of playing for the first team? Only a handful. And out of those, how many are actually capable of performing right from the word go?
If the likes of Callum Hudson-Odoi, Ethan Ampadu, and Andreas Christensen aren't regulars yet, what makes you think that the others would be just because of this ban?
Just to burst your bubble, the club knew about this decision and hence why they were busy handing out new contracts to players like Willian, Pedro, Marcos Alonso, etc. This is no coincidence.
It gets worse if Sarri is still the manager. He will stick to his core players on a regular basis. So, you could bring back the loan army but it would do no good if the manager doesn't play them.
Not to mention, Sarri also said and I quote, "Also, I think that the club has to decide. If I am at the club and I want Callum on the team consistently, I have to sell another winger."
And then Chelsea go and buy Christian Pulisic, who is currently on loan to Dortmund for the rest of the season. Let's see how that plays out.
Okay, let's say the manager does use the youth and plays them on a regular basis - but what if the results are not in the club's favor? There's nothing really the board, the manager or the players can do.
As expected, the club has appealed against the transfer ban and this could potentially delay the punishment giving Chelsea the chance to buy players in the summer.
The club has to improve on so many positions that it cannot afford to not do business this summer. If the club wants a new manager, they cannot afford to have a repeat of the Sarri saga.
Now that the world knows about Chelsea's situation, it has put them in a very tricky situation. The board needs to act fast, back the manager, make smart decisions, be bold and most importantly, not back down from spending a few extra bucks.
But hey, we all know how efficient the board is. Penny-pinching, targeting other players as they are cheap, not backing the manager - if anything, this board is the exact opposite of what I said right above.
If I were you, I wouldn't get my hopes up regarding Chelsea going all out in the summer. All in all, the transfer ban could not have come at a worse time for the club.