The Chelsea Football Club was almost unrecognizable at this time last year.
Over the last 12 months, the English Premier League team saw ownership take over, a new coach hired, and a massive overhaul of 17 new players that has cost the club over $675 million in transfer fees since last summer. Included in that, was a British record transfer in Enzo Fernandez, who came from Benfica for $132 million.
The Blues, one of the most internationally recognized franchises in the EPL, were in dire need of a roster shakeup, though, after a dropoff in production from the team’s established players and a morale crisis within the team that saw former coach Thomas Tuchel lose his job last September.
Chelsea got off to its worst start to an EPL season since 2015-16, where they currently sit in ninth place. That prompted new majority owner Todd Boehly to leap into action in the winter transfer window, with the goal of ushering in and accelerating the integration of a new era at Chelsea.
The eight players Boehly signed in January come in with an average age of 20.7 years, and represent a fresh, new look. But youth wasn’t one of the main problems, skill was. In fact, only a handful of the Blue’ mainstays are over the age of 25.
Boehly, however, understands the simple fact that to win games you need goals and opportunities on the field that create goals and what Chelsea’s attack and midfield lacks in age, they have lacked in goal creation for the past two seasons.
The West London club hasn’t seen a player eclipse 20 goals in a season since Eden Hazard did it in 2019, and it likely won’t change this year as Kai Havertz is the team’s leading scorer with five goals 21 games into the EPL season.
That’s what Boehly welcomed in the transfers. The club needs more goals, or at worst, more chances to score goals, and new faces could provide a spark.
The most notable of the new names are Joao Felix, Mykhalio Mudryk and Fernandez, who is coming off winning the FIFA World Cup with Argentina and capturing the Young Player of the Tournament award there.
Felix and Mudryk joined the club, averaging .54 and .45 non-penalty goals per 90 minutes in the last 12 months, which already puts them at first and second-best in goals per 90 in Chelsea’s entire squad. Third-best would go to Raheem Sterling at only .31 this season.
Playing just behind them in the midfield is Fernandez, who brings a perfect complement to feed Chelsea’s new dribble-hungry wingers.
Fernandez comes in bolstering a massive 11.71 progressive passes, passes that move the ball forward, per 90 putting him in the 99th percentile among midfielders in the entire world, but even more impressive is the rate at which he creates shots for his teams.
The Argentine has an average of 4.45 shot creating actions per 90 which would be good for second in Chelsea’s squad only behind another new transfer from the January window, Noni Madueke who averages 5.38.
Massive attacking numbers for a 21-year-old who also serves as one of the clubs best defensive midfielders.
Chelsea paid for projected worth on the final day of the transfer window and they just may cash in on it.
“I’m very very pleased,” Chelsea coach Graham Potter said in a press conference, in regards to his new midfielder. “We’ve got a fantastic player.”
Chelsea still have many new players they signed on the way that are yet to make their debuts like Christopher Nkunku, Malo Gusto, and 18-year-old Brazilian Andrey Santos who is currently lighting it up for Brazil at the U-20 South American Championship.
The Blues’ new era of players is only two games old — back-to-back 0-0 draws against Liverpool and Fulham — but the metrics suggest acclimation to the league is all that’s left before they take off in West London.
“I’m confident with the potential we have, with the ability that’s in the group,” Potter said. “What we need to do now is gel the team [together].”