Chelsea’s last attempted title defence in the 2015/16 season was nothing short of abysmal, one of the worst in Premier League history in fact. And, after their domination of the top flight last term, they are facing another lacklustre campaign.
Lots of their success last season has been put down to their lack of European football, which has taken its toll this time around. However, as we have seen so many times in recent years. the Premier League champions have invested their money in the wrong way with a handful of below-par signings.
When the summer transfer window opened in July 2017, it looked bright for the Blues, with names like Radja Nainggolan and Alex Sandro being linked with moves to Stamford Bridge. But how many times have Chelsea fans seen their club interested in big European players? Moves for those two stars, in particular, didn’t materialise as Tiemoue Bakayoko was brought in, a player who had a brilliant season for Monaco. Since his signing, he has been very unspectacular and his performance in the 4-1 loss to Watford was beyond awful. The Frenchman clearly isn’t good enough at the current time to be a staple in a title-challenging side and far from an adequate replacement for the departed Nemanja Matic.
Morata struggling after initial promise
Antonio Conte’s biggest summer signing was Alvaro Morata, who arrived from Champions League winners Real Madrid. His £60-million move showed promise and intent but like Bakayoko, he was a replacement, this time for Diego Costa. Morata looked to have been a shrewd signing with his goal-scoring exploits in his first few games but has since gone on to be seriously questioned as a Premier League frontman. The 25-year-old had no experience of being a first-choice striker before his switch to London, which was one of the doubts with such a big fee and it has started to tell with a run of injuries and a major dip in form.
The most ludicrous of them all was the staggering £40 million they spent on Leicester midfielder Danny Drinkwater on deadline day. While he was an integral part of the Foxes’ title-winning side, he certainly isn’t worth £40 million, especially seeing as N’Golo Kante and Cesc Fabregas are ahead of him in the pecking order. That may have been a panic buy but still shouldn’t have gone through, most importantly because the player had handed in a transfer request. Chelsea also went in for Ross Barkley, who wasn’t featuring for Everton at the time and failed to sign him. He did eventually sign in January but hasn’t strengthened the starting XI.
The fact that the former Everton man wasn’t top of Conte’s shopping list was proved when the Blues boss criticised his lack of strength on the bench, which had Barkley on it. That signing, despite costing just £15 million, typified the situation that Chelsea are facing in the transfer market as they are no longer a side that players are falling over themselves to sign for. They reportedly attempted to sign Alexis Sanchez before his move to Manchester United but the Chilean denied the switch across London as he wants to “win trophies” at Old Trafford. As the Blues’ former manager Jose Mourinho has moved on to “the biggest club in England”, his former employers are being left behind and with Champions League football slipping away this season, it might not be a formality next term either.