My Piece on the reaction to Chelsea’s Deadline Transfer Activity
Chelsea finally addressed their defensive issues on deadline day, though not in the form many expected.
The London club signed two players who were particularly out of left field considering the club’s previous targets. The failure to lure John Stones from Everton meant other high-profile names were linked with the club. Those expecting Ezequiel Garay or Aymen Abdennour instead saw Nantes FC‘s Papy Djilobodji and Reading FC‘s Michael Hector sign the dotted line. Cue the snickers from rival supporters and incredulity from Chelsea fans.
Chelsea, a club that signed Fernando Torres for £50 million, was shopping in the bargain bin.
Adding insult to that injury was the supposed consensus, again from fans, that neither player were of the requisite level to play for such a club. Those feelings may have echoed in some corners of the media as well. The knee-jerk reaction in world football was on full display where that situation was concerned.
While it’s certainly valid to question transfers, both small and big, the reaction to Chelsea’s activity skipped that stage and went straight to ridicule. With what cause?
Djilobodji is, understandably, not a familiar figure throughout many corners in Britain. Hector should be considering he plays for a Championship club. Before going to assess the signings’ actual footballing ability, the masses decided they weren’t good enough. A low transfer fee, lower tier clubs and the status of their future employers were no doubt the prime factors considered by the judges in question.
While there are realistic question marks about both transfers, a proper evaluation of each move should leave Chelsea supporters relatively pleased.
Djilobodji will take time to acclimatize from Ligue 1 but has the physical traits to excel in the Premier League. He will add depth, both to central defense and midfield. The Senegalese defender should improve with likes of John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic to learn from. For Chelsea to get a player who plays in arguably the most tactical league in Europe, with international experience, at a low fee is common sense. Djilobodji will just be a squad player and is good enough to do a job in that role. He may even surprise some with his qualities.
Hector’s situation is, admittedly, a bit more confusing but interesting nonetheless.
The Jamaican international has just one full season of Championship football under his belt along with a mere six caps. Hector impressed during that season though and did well on the international stage. For those who watched the 2015 Copa America and 2015 Gold Cup — and few in Europe do — they would have seen a strong, physical defender with decent pace. Hector was also solid in possession and at 23, he has raw skills that a manager like Jose Mourinho could develop. His return to Reading on loan is evidence that fine-tuning is necessary, but if he continues to progress he can also prove himself a solid player for the Blues.
No one has a glimpse into the future to see how these transfers will pan out. Both players could be thrust aside next summer, or January even, should Chelsea feel the need to splash the cash as they normally do. Both were extremely inexpensive signings as far as Chelsea goes and any potential loss won’t be sniffed at.
Still, this is Chelsea. One would find it hard to label them panic-buyers with Mourinho in charge, and if they were trying to placate the support it certainly hasn’t gone over well. Djilobodji and Hector aren’t the signings we’re used to seeing in Chelsea blue but that doesn’t mean they’re worthy of ridicule.