Chelsea didn’t take long to trigger a barrage of criticism and envy after it went on a January shopping spree to scoop up Europe’s best young players.
Many believe the club has played high-stakes roulette in the transfer market to claw its way back up the Premier League table.
And after splurging an astronomical £323 mln on players, there is now huge pressure for head coach Graham Potter to work wonders by securing a Champions League place for his employers.
Lying in mid-table – 10 points off the top four — after an unremarkable season so far, Chelsea must steamroll its way up the table to make good on its investment.
The only competition they could still win is the Champions League, but that seems an unrealistic target considering recent below-par performances.
With so many new players to accommodate, team cohesion will take time to gel, time that Potter doesn’t have, considering the huge layout on players.
To top a huge offensive in the transfer market, Chelsea broke the British record in shelling out £107 mln on Argentinian World Cup star Enzo Fernandez.
That’s a huge amount for an unproven (in England) young defensive midfield player in the globe’s most competitive league.
Accompanying such a big price tag comes pressure to perform and achieve instant results.
Taking bold steps by blowing everyone else out of the water, Chelsea’s owners have attracted criticism and questions about playing fast and loose with financial fair play.
Rival managers Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp have raised their eyebrows at Chelsea’s January spending but have been cautious in what they say.
Liverpool’s Klopp said he would need a lawyer present, but he and City’s Pep appeared baffled as to how the London club were able to splash the cash in the usually less frantic January window.
Chelsea spent more than clubs in Spain, France, Germany, and Italy combined for eight new signings – one of which being Joao Felix on loan.
Other players who came through the door included Benoit Badiashile, Andrey Santos, David Datro Fofana, Mykhailo Mudryk, Noni Madueke and Malo Gusto.
Potter will be hoping fresh blood will give the team impetus in the second half of the season as it plays catch up with Liverpool, also outside the top six.
An unprecedented transfer window closed with an £815 mln January spend, including Chelsea’s British record £107m signing of Enzo Fernandez.
It is puzzling why Chelsea went in fast and furious in the transfer market mid-season when throwing all these players together could create confusion rather than cohesion.
Moreover, the law of probability suggests that out of eight new signings, there will be some duds.
They will be expensive duds on long-term contracts that nobody else can afford, even on loan.
Look at the money Chelsea spent on Lukaku and how well that turned out.
Due to more players coming in, the club has a bloated squad – with two recent recruits, striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and defender Badiashile ( £35 mln signing), cut from the Champions League squad.
Chelsea fans are happy with some signings but question whether there is any method in American owner Todd Boehly’s astonishing high-spending assault.
Boehly already spent £270 mln in the summer, a record for a British club, then eclipsed it in January to bag 17 new players in total.
These were added to a strong squad that needed some reinforcements but not a complete refit in two transfer windows.
When Chelsea starts sniffing around for a player, they usually get their target because they have the riches to get it done.
On the flip side, the selling club immediately adds a few more noughts because they know they can get it.
Chelsea has bought exciting attacking talent, such as Mudryk from Shakhtar Donetsk and Joao Felix on loan from Atletico Madrid.
This is why the Premier League is a global product, and Chelsea plans to be world beaters.
But the record outlay by English clubs proves that the Premier League is the place to be for the best players.
It has become the unofficial super league, with Europe’s other leagues financed by big-spending English clubs.
The Premier League keeps other European clubs afloat, and rivals don’t like it.
Spain’s La Liga president Javier Tebas claimed teams in the Premier League are “financially doped” after they outspent the rest of Europe’s ‘big five’ leagues by almost four to one.
Nobody complained when Spain and Italy were hoovering up the best talent.