While just five points separate Manchester City and Chelsea in the Premier League title race, in the transfer market the London club are running away with all the honours.
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The Premier League’s two biggest spenders may have raised the stakes in England, in terms of unprecedented large-scale investment into their teams, but whether learning from their mistakes or a need for a more sensible and sustainable model, Chelsea have adopted a new approach that, especially in the age of Financial Fair Play, City must take notice of.
Since Michael Emenalo was appointed sporting director in 2011, Chelsea’s policy has shifted from always buying ready-made stars to young hungry talents who, crucially, if they don’t work out still carry an excellent resale value.
There are exceptions, fuelled largely by Jose Mourinho’s return Nemanja Matic, Cesc Fabregas (who was a gift horse), Filipe Luis and Diego Costa but the bulk of their activity has been buying players 24 and under.
Juan Mata, David Luiz, Eden Hazard, Thibaut Courtois, Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku, Ramires, Willian, Oscar, Andre Schurrle, Mohamed Salah, Marco van Ginkel, Cesar Azpilicueta and Kurt Zouma have all arrived in the last five years for a combined £228m.
Many are now established members of the first team, while others have fallen by the wayside, but for those who have not been deemed good enough, Chelsea have recouped £115m in sales (not including Schurrle, who’s set to leave for Wolfsburg for £25m).
Compare that with City since 2011/12. There have been younger players acquired Sergio Aguero and Samir Nasri stand out but the bulk of their expensive arrivals Fernandinho, Jesus Navas, Fernando and Alvaro Negredo have been over 25, and will earn little if sold on. While those labelled ‘promising’ Scott Sinclair, Jack Rodwell, Matija Nastasic and Stefan Savic have been failures and raised scant finance to compensate.
It’s illustrated by this current transfer window. City have spent £28m on 26-year-old Wilfried Bony, while Scott Sinclair and Nastasic who cost a combined £18m have left on loan. Bony could prove to be an excellent signing but his value will only decrease.
Admittedly, Juan Cuadrado, poised to sign for Chelsea from Fiorentina, is the same age as Bony, meaning Chelsea won’t likely see much of their £23.3m back, but Schurrle is being sold while Salah will command around £20m when he departs in the summer.
Chelsea’s system is by no means perfect, but they have become almost as adept as selling at the right time as they have as buying. They are setting the standard that City should look to follow.
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