Assessing Chelsea’s January business

Another January transfer window has come and gone for Europe’s major soccer leagues, and there have been plenty of major movers and shakers. The biggest spenders by far were Chelsea FC, with new owner Todd Boehly splashing the cash on eight new players, for the combined price of over €330 million (~$354 million) in this transfer window alone. So, without further ado, I’d like to look at two of the bigger signings made by Chelsea last month and see if, at the time of writing, these players look to have been worth buying.  

The new most expensive signing by a British club in history is up first in the form of Enzo Fernandez for €121 million. The Argentine shone at the 2022 World Cup as he helped his nation defeat France to win the biggest prize in world soccer, and in the process became one of the world’s most sought- after midfielders. Chelsea had quite the dearth of midfield talent available due to a combination of mounting injuries and aging stars, which led to their interest in Fernandez. Benfica asked for an otherworldly fee for their star asset, a price which Chelsea balked at early in the window as they looked to rebuild their midfield. But come the end of the window, and with no new midfielders signed, Boehly got desperate and threw €121 million at the Portuguese club to land Fernandez.  

Rating this transfer is simple: it is a massive overpay. Fernandez is uber talented, but he lacks any significant experience to justify a price like the one Chelsea paid. This is a classic example of World Cup inflation, as before the tournament he would not have been worth a third of that price. Granted, having recently made his debut, Fernandez did look very solid in his first Premier League action. But €121 million is a lot of money to pay for “solid.” This one is definitely a poor move.  

Mykhaylo Mudryk arrived a few weeks before the transfer window slammed shut for another mammoth fee, this one of fully €70 million. Mudryk is seen as one of the premier talents among young wingers in world soccer, having lit up the Champions League group stage with Shakhtar, and at only 22, he is still very much in his developmental years as a player. These factors led Chelsea to throw another pile of money at a club with all the bargaining power, and in the end they got their man.  

His two performances to date have produced a mixed bag in terms of results. He came on for his debut at Anfield against Liverpool on Jan. 21, making a 10 minute cameo from the bench, and looked absolutely electric on the ball as he spun Liverpool defenders inside out. That being said, the man marking him the majority of the time was James Milner, who is 37 years old and well past his peak athletically. Mudryk’s second appearance was far more disappointing, as he was subbed off after 70 minutes against Fulham at Stamford Bridge having failed to take a shot, create a chance, or complete a single dribble. Overall, he is a very raw talent with the world at his feet, but Mudryk clearly still has much to learn about Premier League soccer before he lives up to his price tag. The jury is still out on this one.