A transfer ban. It’s the elephant in the room. It’s the issue many of us Chelsea fans want to ignore. But the reality is, the club are likely to be given an extended transfer ban in the near future. The short version of this, is simply that the club are guilty of breaching FIFA regulations about signing under 18 players, in particular with Bertrand Troare (above), but also in 14 other smaller cases. The club have previous, with Gael Kakuta, so a transfer ban is highly likely.
The chances are that on appeal, we could delay the beginning of this ban – which could potentially be as long as four transfer windows (effectively two seasons), until the winter window next season (January 2020). So in effect, if we got a two year ban, we’d be prevented from registering any new players until January 2022.
This essentially gives Chelsea two transfer windows to get a squad together which will see them through the next two years.
And I want to argue that it wouldn’t be the worst thing to happen to Chelsea, nor would it cost us much in terms of on field success. Here’s why:
1) Knowing we have a ban focusses the board on getting deals done, and forces us to plan ahead
If we know we only have two windows to get deals over the line, then there is a finite time to get the players we need – not just for now, but for the next two years. So we need to plan ahead and look at areas which need strengthening for the long term, not just now. The squad rebuild we so desperately need will have to be accelerated
2) It might help keep Eden Hazard
People may remember a while back Athletico Madrid got a transfer ban. That summer Antoine Greizzman was looking odds on to go to Manchester United, but instead chose to stay at Athletico out of loyalty. He didn’t want to leave the club in the lurch at an hour of great desperation.
Now given how desperate the club are to keep Eden Hazard, there’s no doubt they will use this tactic to attempt to keep him here. He’s never hidden the fact he loves Chelsea, and his family are happy and settled in London, and he has also said he wouldn’t want to leave in a way which leaves a sour taste. He may feel, and the club will suggest this to him, that to walk away from Chelsea just as they get a two year transfer ban might come across negatively, be seen as disloyal, and more positively, that the club want him to stay and, potentially as captain, lead us through this two year period.
Eden might still go – and who can blame him, Madrid is his childhood dream. But it’s a tactic worth using and with his love of the club, there’s a chance it could work.
3) It increases opportunities for academy products and the loan army.
If we’re not able to bring in players, but want to freshen up the squad, we have a very strong loan army and a top class academy. It means the likes of Reece James, Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham, Fikayo Timori, and, if he stays, Callum Hudson-Odoi, are likely to get more chances to play. Players like Kurt Zouma of the loan army, have a better chance of being brought back. The truth is we have players deserving of a first team chance already on the books. And, of course, it increases the chances of Ruben Loftus-Cheek getting more first team chances and committing his long-term future to the club.
4) It would bring the club stability and foster team spirit
Back in 2003 we bought no players to the club. We already had a strong-ish squad, and it actually helped build team spirit and unity in the squad, almost an “us against the world” mentality, which helped us not just that season but beyond. Spurs signed no players in the summer of 2018 and it’s only served to help bring them together, and make them stronger. So us not being able to sign players for two years could actually have the effect of creating a stronger bond between the players, and stronger team spirit.
5) Maurizio Sarri is the perfect coach for a transfer ban
Unlike most managers during he Abramovich era, Maurizio Sarri is not a CV manager who buys the team he wants to win trophies. Sarri is a coach. He sees it as his job to improve the players he has. He has said publicly on many occasions he doesn’t care about transfers, he is willing to work with what he has and believes he can improve any player. Indeed his track record demonstrates his ability to do this. As such, he is arguably the perfect coach for a transfer ban, as he can take the players he has at his disposal, and focus on improving them.
6) Potentially huge transfer funds when the ban ends
Having a transfer ban won’t stop the club making money. Some players will still be sold, and the club is increasing their revenue all the time with new sponsorship deals. Add two years worth of TV money and potential CL money unspent, that’s a fair old transfer kitty in 2022, allowing us to bring real top quality players to the club in areas which need strengthening then (for example, if Hazard stays, buy 2022 he’ll be in his early thirties, and need replacing). The ban will help the clubs finances, which will make Marina happy.
Obviously none of us wants a transfer ban. But I think in many ways it could even be a positive for the club. It’ll focus minds, help us plan longer term, and give us stability and player and manager level, all of which can be good for the club.
And as an older fan, who remembers when Chelsea were punching above our weight, against all odds, it also takes me back to those times. We tend to be at our best when thing get tough, the old ‘Chelsea against the world’ maxim ringing true again.
One thing is for sure, it’ll be one hell of a ride.
(Photos: Getty Images)