Even if appealing to CAS will likely freeze the transfer ban, the smartest thing to do is to do nothing, use the loan army and instead spend big in the summer of 2020.
Chelsea were expected to appeal the ban to Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS), to hopefully allow us to sign players this summer, before the ban would prevent us doing so in the two following windows. That would allow us to replace Eden Hazard with whoever is available (and attainable!) now, but on the other side would make next summer 100 % dependant on this transfer window being a big success.
But now it seems Chelsea have opted out from appealing, hence deliberatingly accepting not being able to sign players in twelve months. With Hazard leaving a huge gap to be filled, many fans are boiling over with frustrations, but here I argue why this actually makes sense.
1 We are already too late to the party (and don’t have VIP access)
We are already in June, and our biggest rivals are likely in advanced stages of signing players. For Chelsea, the uncertainties of the transfer ban will have made it very hard to position us towards players and agents. And several ships may have sailed already.
If we want to replace Hazard this summer, there are not many attacking players worthy of that consideration. Maybe Nicolas Pepe, Luka Jovic and Antoine Griezmann could instantly fill part of that gap, but they are wanted by all the top clubs. And given all of Bayern, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester United will be going head to head for attacking talent this summer, competition is unusually fierce. Someone like Philippe Coutinho seems to be available, but is he worth delaying the transfer ban for?
2 We can still sign players despite being banned
We have been smart (or fortunate?) enough to have already made the signing of Christian Pulisic, who will be returning from his loan at Dortmund in June. We will also be able to sign both Kovacic and Higuain — if we want to. The latter is out of the question, but Kovacic could be a decent buy for the right price.
Not bad working conditions in a a window where we are banned from signing players.
3 We have a wealth of resources in the #loanarmy
Whether we need reinforcements in defense (Ola Aina, Reece James, Fikayo Tomori, Kurt Zouma), midfield (Mason Mount, Tiemoue Bakayoko) or attack (Victor Moses, Tammy Abraham, Michy Batshuayi), the wealth of talent available in the loan army can come in and strengthen the squad. Some of them may even strengthen the first XI.
Also, a few of these players are so high on potential, that they in a year may have proven to perform like £50m signings. Look no further than Ruben Loftus-Cheek or Callum Hudson-Odoi twelve months ago, to see how quickly players can go from “promising” to “key member of the squad”.
4 We would be held to ransom buying players in this window
We often hear stories about prices inflating when Chelsea enter the race for a player. That would further intensify if we had the opportunity to sign players now, and not next summer, as our desperation would simply put us in an even weaker negotiation position. And agents and club directors don’t have to be Aurelio de Laurentiis to know how to exploit that.
Whether the price premium would be 10, 20 or 30 %, that is probably a heavier burden than a club so committed to being FFP compliant can bear.
5 Our new sporting director will need time
With Petr Cech coming in as sporting director, after what will likely be a few weeks of post-retirement vacation, it is obviously not much he can do to influence and affect this transfer window. And with the sales of Hazard and a few others this summer expected to generate £150–200m, we would be dumb to spend this money on panic buys in a hampered window. The alternative of allowing the sporting director and new manager to work properly identifying targets for next summer, is far more appealing to a club in dire need of a more sustainable transfer model.
There will be top players available next summer too, a certain Jadon Sancho will for instance have two years remaining, and a Lampard / Morris / Cech set-up building a core of young English talent might very well be appealing to the Chelsea-fan or other up and coming talents around Europe.
Obviously, there is never a good time to serve a transfer ban. But these are the main reasons why, all things considered, I believe Chelsea want to serve it now. It is not a slam dunk case though. If Hazard stayed, it might have been, as we would not be in such need for reinforcements. But the injuries to Loftus-Cheek and Hudson-Odoi is further complicating matters, although there are suggestions the latter can be ready to play in September already. And the loan army with Pulisic, Zouma, Bakayoko and possibly Abraham, can inject the squad with ready first XI players. And forcing us to play academy talent can hopefully take us in a new strategic direction.
I believe taking the transfer ban is part of the reason we are about to replace Sarri with Lampard, as this strategy would fail if our manager were not willing and able to work with the academy and loan army. That should be positive for Chelsea fans with a long term perspective, regardless of whether you supported Sarri or not: If we serve the ban now, we are taking one step back to be able to take two steps forward, sacrificing short term results for long term competitiveness. This is exactly the perspective so many fans have been screaming for, for so long. Lampard will be given time in this new set-up, and if it goes according to plan, the transfer ban may be one of the best thing that ever happened to us …Chelsea
Let’s see how it goes.