Chelsea have splashed the cash over the last 18 months in the hope of building a squad that can dominate European football, but they have overlooked the true value of experience both on and off the pitch. The Blues reportedly ruled that no players over the age of 25 would be shortlisted as a potential target, in a decision that could cost Mauricio Pochettino his job.
Despite taking their spending to over £1billion under Todd Boehly, Chelsea have made a poor start to the season and sit in 14th spot in the Premier League after winning just one of their opening six matches. Performances have lacked a cutting edge in the final third and defensive strength, leaving many to ponder how the squad can still need new signings.
With several stars ruled out through injury, Pochettino will now be calling upon the leaders in his dressing room to stand up and be counted. Though, in moments as such, the Argentine may quickly realise that Chelsea must U-turn on a significant transfer rule that has hindered his tenure.
According to The Telegraph, Chelsea decided to set a 25-and-under rule when identifying new signings over the summer in the hope that they would build a team capable of playing at the top level for at least the next decade. Therefore, the likes of Declan Rice and James Maddison were overlooked, with younger alternatives – such as Moises Caicedo and Cole Palmer – preferred.
However, the lack of experience within the squad is clear to see and a sprinkling of experience could be the key to saving Chelsea’s season. With Thiago Silva in his final 12 months at Stamford Bridge, his departure will leave many pondering where the true leaders are behind the scenes.
England internationals Raheem Sterling and Ben Chilwell are ‘next in line’ and consequently will become the most experienced stars, with 25-year-old Marc Cucurella also therefore becoming one of the oldest players in the team. Youngsters such as Enzo Fernandez and Christopher Nkunku will also feel they are capable of stepping up, but they may lack the know-how to truly make an impact.
Manchester City have enjoyed success by having a cohesive blend of prospects and experience, with Fernandinho playing a vital role previously and Kyle Walker and Ilkay Gundogan stepping up to guide the club to a treble last season. Similarly, the likes of James Milner and Jordan Henderson were viewed in the same light at Liverpool.
If Chelsea are to truly reap the benefits of their investment, their recruitment team must swallow their pride and head into the January transfer window with a willingness to sign those who may not rise in value or be the best-performing player on the pitch; but instead, unlock the potential of others with mentorship and experience.