Premier League rival clubs seek to profit from Chelsea’s fire sale

Chelsea's Raheem Sterling, centre, celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Southampton and Chelsea at St Mary's Stadium, Southampton, England, Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2022. (AP Photo/Ian Walton)
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LONDON – Chelsea Football Club has embarked on a fire sale of players following their lavish spending in the transfer market.

In their first year under new American ownership, Chelsea broke the record for the highest transfer spending in a 12-month period. However, they finished 12th in the Premier League, their lowest position since 1994.

To comply with financial regulations, Chelsea is now looking to trim their squad and offload key players who were part of the squad that won the Champions League two years ago. French midfielder N’Golo Kante has already said his goodbyes and is expected to join other star players in heading to Saudi Arabia. The potential influx of Saudi investment could help Chelsea meet the Premier League’s financial fair play rules.

Chelsea’s new signings last season, such as Enzo Fernandez and Mykhailo Mudryk, were given long-term contracts to spread their transfer fees over several years for financial fair play purposes. However, for the purpose of financial fair play, sales can be registered immediately, so Chelsea is rushing to complete transfers before the end of the financial year on June 30.

Several Premier League rivals are showing interest in Chelsea’s players, with cut-price deals being discussed. Mateo Kovacic is reportedly close to joining Manchester City, Mason Mount is a target for Manchester United, and Kai Havertz could join Arsenal. Additionally, there is Saudi interest in Edouard Mendy, Kalidou Koulibaly, and Hakim Ziyech.

Critics have raised concerns about potential conflicts of interest between Chelsea’s ownership group and the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF). Former Manchester United captain Gary Neville has called for an embargo on transfers from Premier League clubs to Saudi Arabia to ensure the integrity of the game. However, the Premier League has reportedly investigated any links between Chelsea’s ownership and the PIF and found no conflict.

The task of transforming Chelsea’s on-field fortunes now falls on manager Mauricio Pochettino, who returns to English football. The club’s hierarchy is relying on Pochettino to develop the young talent at his disposal, similar to his successful tenure at Tottenham.

However, the competition at the top of the Premier League has intensified, with the addition of PIF-backed Newcastle United to the traditional top six clubs. If Chelsea’s departing players excel at their new clubs, the club’s extravagant spending could inadvertently strengthen their rivals.