Mudryk, Madueke, Badiashile… Fernandez, why such heavy spending?
So much has been made of the way in which Chelsea have gone about their business and conducted themselves in this January transfer window. With Todd Boehly and co seemingly finding a way around the confines of Financial fair-play, the Blues have been rampant in the market, securing themselves a total of 8 new players for a combined cost of £323 million.
Training sessions at Cobham, as well as matchday squads, are likely to be littered with new faces going forward as a result. David Fofana, Andrey Santos, Benoit Badiashile, Joao Felix, Mykhailo Mudryk, Noni Madueke, and Malo Gusto have all signed on the dotted line and made the switch to London this month. They’ll be joined by Argentinian World Cup winner Enzo Fernandez, after a truly phenomenal transfer saga saw the Benfica man snapped up for a club record £105 million in the closing hours of deadline day.
Whilst the likes of Fofana, Santos, and Gusto may have been signed for the future (the latter returning to Lyon on loan until the end of the season), Chelsea’s plan is clear. Not a single one of Chelsea’s permanent January signings is over the age of 22, and even then, Atletico Madrid loanee Joao Felix is only 23 himself. The new owners are clearly looking at both the present and the future, assembling a squad of young stars that can compete both now, and in the years to come.
But, why such an extravagant spending spree in January alone? To put it simply, it fast tracks a squad rebuild that Chelsea have needed for quite some time. Malo Gusto for example, is only the second right back to be signed by the club since captain Cesar Azpilicueta’s arrival in 2012, and the Frenchman will provide much needed cover for Reece James. Mudryk, Madueke, and Felix come in to bolster a frontline that has failed to score goals on a consistent basis since the likes of Costa and Hazard were partnered together.
Perhaps the most significant January signing of all from a Chelsea fan’s perspective, Fernandez comes into a midfield that has been on a sharp decline since the club’s Champions League win in 2021. Kante has managed just 2 games this season, Jorginho has departed for pastures new in North London, and Juventus loanee Denis Zakaria is sidelined for the foreseeable future. The club are certainly thin on the ground in that area, with Kovacic in and out, and the likes of Gallagher, Loftus-Cheek, and Mount failing to regularly impress in natural midfield roles.
The Fernandez signing is timely, and it signifies that Chelsea are looking to spend big right now for both current and future success. By flirting with Financial fair-play, Boehly is looking to cement a sustainable long-term model that limits future spending by signing young players on long term contracts. Not only does this spread the substantial fees over the course of several years, but it ensures that these highly valued youngsters retain that value throughout their stint at Chelsea.
For a January transfer window, the spending might look absurd, but Chelsea have laid the foundations for future success. Graham Potter now has plenty to work with, and a number of improvements are expected from the Blues as the season progresses into the latter stages. But, what can we actually expect from Chelsea going forward? How will their January signings affect their playstyle, and more importantly, how will it affect your bet builders?
Chelsea’s January Signings: How will they affect your bet builders?
A 1-0 win against Palace and a 0-0 draw with Liverpool are results that already evidence minor improvements to Chelsea’s play. The standout stat here is that Chelsea have kept two clean sheets in a row, largely down to the addition of the smooth operating Frenchman Benoit Badiashile. The silky and athletic centre back has instilled a sense of calm to a very frantic Chelsea backline, and with the likes of James, Chilwell, and Fofana back on the grass at Cobham, Potter’s side could prove incredibly difficult to break down in the second half of the season.
What does that mean from a betting standpoint? Chelsea suddenly look a more efficient outfit, and going forward, Both teams to score may be a selection to shy away from. They’ll likely be the favourites in the majority of their games for the remainder of the season, and with a strong defence, you’d be brave to bet against them. A January signing like Enzo Fernandez will only make them a more imposing prospect. With a truly controlling presence in the midfield that will maintain and recycle possession, Chelsea will do as much defending with the ball as they do without.
Again, defensive solidity through possession will be something to watch out for with regards to your bet builders. With more possession comes more passes, and both Badiashile and Fernandez are names that you should be keeping an eye on in the passing markets. Badiashile averaged a modest 48.9 passes P/90 at Monaco this season, but his numbers have already increased drastically, with the centre back averaging 79.5 passes P/90 in his 2 appearances for Chelsea. With Badiashile seemingly cementing a starting place already, he looks a solid pick in this market.
Tempo setter Enzo Fernandez is also worth keeping an eye on in the passing markets. Granted, these stats are taken from a supposedly inferior league but the Argentinian averaged 103.2 passes P/90 for Benfica in Liga Nos this season. Even then, an average of 67.2 P/90 in a Champions League group that contained both PSG and Juventus is certainly encouraging. With Chelsea averaging 58% possession in the Premier League, and the majority of play likely to go through Fernandez, he’ll be a welcome addition to bet builders at the 70+ passes line.
It’s not just in this market that Fernandez will make an impact however. Chelsea have been a foul happy team this season, and the squad is littered with players that punters have been backing for fouls on a regular basis. In this sense, Fernandez is a welcome addition, and he’ll certainly fit in given his aggressive and dogged nature. This makes him a great pick in the fouls market.
Occupying the engine room, Fernandez committed 1.17 fouls P/90 for Benfica domestically, and showed his bark and bite by snapping into 2.60 tackles P/90. His Champions league stats are even more pleasing on the eye, and his 3.19 fouls P/90, combined with his 4.04 tackles P/90 make him a player worth looking at for both fouls and cards. Such stats should translate well to the Premier League, where the game is arguably played at a much faster pace than it is in Portugal.
Of course, reinforcements have also been made in the forward areas, and in Mykhailo Mudryk, Noni Madueke, and Joao Felix, Chelsea have signed three players that could drastically change the way that they play. The three combine for pace and trickery aplenty, providing Chelsea with direct threats in behind, on the counter, and out wide in one on one situations, something they’ve desperately lacked since the departure of Eden Hazard.
The area where this is likely to have the most effect is corners. Chelsea already average 5.45 a game, but I expect them to hit this number on a far more consistent basis, and even eclipse it given the signings they’ve made. Mudryk is a shining example of how this could occur. The Ukrainian winger hit an eye-watering top speed of 36.63 km/h on his Premier league debut, the fastest speed clocked in the division this season. Such raw pace will allow him to drive at defenders and force corners, as well as get in behind and force corners out of recovering defenders making a challenge, or defenders blocking his eventual cross.
Couple this with his 5.94 dribbles P/90, a stat taken from the Champions League, and you have a player in Mudryk that possesses both the pace, and the willingness to run at his defender, that’s necessary to force corners. Likely to play on the other side of the forward line, English youngster Noni Madueke will provide a similar threat and will definitely force change out of his opponents in the form of corners. A staggering 9.03 dribbles P/90 make him a serious threat, and Chelsea’s corner count should increase as a result of his direct play.
Even Portuguese starlet Joao Felix can contribute in this area once his suspension is over. A further 3.33 dribbles P/90 can be added to the mix there as he floats across the frontline, meaning that corners should really be of interest to your Chelsea bet builders.
Whilst corners might be the key area of interest for such stats, there’s no doubt that the direct and fresh attacking play, offered by the aforementioned youngsters, will force more fouls out of Chelsea’s opposition. The Blues haven’t exactly been blessed with players with a desire to take on their man this season, and thus their ability to draw fouls, and ultimately cards, is incredibly poor. Potter’s side draw just 1.75 cards per game from their opponents, but if Mudryk’s 35 minute cameo against Liverpool is anything to go by, then that could well change.
The dribbling stats already make for good reading, but combined with fouls drawn P/90, Chelsea’s exciting, new frontline should force fouls and cards aplenty out of opposition players, finally making both fouls, and cards, markets worth your time against Chelsea. Mudryk immediately made an impact on his debut, getting James Milner booked as he exhibited blistering pace. He drew 1.58 fouls P/90 against quality opposition in the Champions League. No other Chelsea forward can top this.
Noni Madueke’s average comes in lower at 0.97 fouls drawn P/90, but in tandem with his 9.03 dribbles, it makes for encouraging reading. Joao Felix is perhaps the one that truly stands out here. His 3.37 fouls drawn P/90 in La Liga dwarfs the numbers put up by his Chelsea teammates, add to that the 4 fouls he drew on his debut against Fulham, and you’ve got a player who’s likely to see opponents pick up a fair few more cards. So, in the case of your bet builders, Chelsea’s January signings should result in an increase in opposition fouls and cards, making both markets of note.
Of course, there’s one area in particular that you would want these new signings to have an impact in. Chelsea signed a total of 4 forward players in the January transfer window, and the Blues have seriously been lacking in the shots and shots on target department compared to teams towards the top of the league.
With these signings, things should hopefully change, and Chelsea should now provide more reliable options in these markets. Mykhailo Mudryk himself bagged 7 goals and 6 assists in just 12 games in the Ukrainian league, managing a further 3 goals in the Champions League. His 1.05 shots on target P/90 from that very competition would rank just below Kai Havertz’s league stats, and the pacy winger should ultimately provide more than just a danger out wide.
Joao Felix is a quality operator, and once back on the field, should offer another solid option for your bet builders in the shot markets. 1.66 shots on target P/90 is evidence of his class, and once again is another stat that he stands head and shoulders above other Chelsea attackers in. If his 4 shots on target in just an hour against Fulham are anything to go by, then Chelsea fans and punters alike are in for a treat when he returns.
The true surprise here, however, are the stats of January signing Noni Madueke. The Englishman averaged 1.94 shots on target P/90 for PSV before his departure, a staggering number that would be more than welcome to Potter and his squad. That’s 3 January signings that should all be capable of making an impact on your bet builders when it comes to shots.
Chelsea’s business in the January transfer window could well make them a frightening prospect. Young they may be, and expensive too, but the January signings made by Boehly, Potter, and co are set to bring both success now, and in the future. The likes of Mudryk, Felix, Madueke, Badiashile, and perhaps most importantly, Enzo Fernandez, address areas of the pitch where Chelsea were seriously struggling.
They have their calm and athletic left footed centre back, three forwards with pace and ability that can cause problems both out wide, and in front of goal. And, in Fernandez, they have a World Cup winning tempo setter, a player to control the game with the bite, bark, and athleticism necessary to compete at the highest of levels. These are areas that have long been neglected in the Chelsea squad, but after such an impressive January transfer window, they’ll be a team worth keeping an eye on, and one to make note of in multiple bet builder markets.