Chelsea sold nearly half of its first-team players to Saudi Arabia, which calls into question the club’s participation in the summer transfer window.
Chelsea have been heavily active since the summer transfer window which started last month, as several of their top players have been offloaded to Saudi Arabia’s Super Pro League (SPL).
It has been claimed that Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) had an investment in Clearlake Capital, the private equity firm that co-owns Chelsea.
PIF already own 80 percent of Chelsea’s Premier League rivals Newcastle, sparking rumours of a conflict of interest.
It was earlier reported that a consortium led by Todd Boehly and containing Clearlake Capital completed a takeover of Chelsea from Roman Abramovich last year.
It’s believed the Premier League received written assurances that PIF played no role in the takeover at the time.
The west London club need to balance the books this summer after two transfer windows of big spending under co-owner Todd Boehly’s regime.
N’Golo Kante, Kalidou Koulibaly and Édouard Mendy have already left Chelsea for Saudi Arabia clubs – Al Ittihad, Al Hilal and Al Ahli, respectively.
Hakim Ziyech’s £8million move from Chelsea to Saudi Arabia side, Al-Nassr collapsed after a knee problem was flagged up during the player’s medical a few days ago.
The likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Christian Pulisic have all attracted interest from clubs in Saudi Arabia, as Chelsea is keen to sell the trio.
But Romelu Lukaku has rejected a move to the Middle East country in order to join Serie A giants, Inter Milan permanently, while Kai Havertz joined Arsenal, Mateo Kovacic joined Manchester City, and Mason Mount is heading to Manchester United.
Chelsea is after investing heavily in new players since the Boehly-led consortium took charge at Stamford Bridge last year.
The Blues are eager to raise funds in order to comply with Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations and trim a bloated squad that has been inherited by new manager Mauricio Pochettino.
Chelsea has spent over half a billion dollars on transfers since Boehly took over, which has led many to question whether they are complying with FFP rules.
Boehly sees the Saudi football revolution as a blessing in disguise as he looks to solve Chelsea’s FFP situation.
Selling players to the SPL for good amounts of money will certainly help the Stamford Bridge club operate without worrying about breaking any FFP laws.
Webteam@ipledge2nigeria reports that FFP was established by UEFA to make sure that football clubs were not spending more than they earned and, in doing so, prevent them from falling into financial troubles which may endanger their long-term survival and improve the overall financial health of European football.
A former Chelsea player, Florent Malouda recently stated his view on why top players are leaving Chelsea this summer.
“Chelsea didn’t sell players to rivals under Roman Abramovich for one simple reason: the club was very competitive,” Malouda said.
“What we are seeing at the moment, selling players to rivals, is not solely about FFP; this is because the players that are going to move on don’t really believe in what is happening at the club.”
On his part, a former Manchester United captain, Gary Neville, called on the English Premier League (EPL) to carry out an immediate investigation into the huge money Saudi Arabia is pumping into the English top-flight league during the ongoing transfer window.
Neville wrote on Twitter: “Any chance the Premier League can look into this Saudi trading like NOW!!!
“Get a Regulator in asap that’s agile enough to stop these things at source! If it doesn’t look right, it’s probably not right! Independence is required asap. The Governance of our game is a mess!”
Also, UEFA president, Aleksander Ceferin, recently criticised Saudi sides’ transfer strategies after Karim Benzema and Kante followed Cristiano Ronaldo to the SPL.
Ceferin reckons Saudi is making a similar mistake as the Chinese Super League and should concentrate their spending on developing their home country’s players rather than signing players who are at ‘the end of their careers’.
Asked to give his opinion on Chelsea offloading nearly half of their team to Saudi Arabia, Stanley Smart, an Abuja-based sports journalist, said that football at the moment is all about business, adding that money plays a key role in the game.
According to him, Chelsea need to reduce their bloated squad ahead of the new season and also make more money this summer after spending a huge amount in the last two windows.
“Football presently is about business, it is about money, and if you look at the situation Chelsea found themselves in, obviously they need to sell players because of their huge squad and they need money after spending huge amounts in the previous two windows,”
“It is a blessing for Chelsea that the Saudi clubs are going for their players because they can easily get back at least 50-80 per cent of the money they spent in the last two windows,” he added.
Asked if there is any need for EPL to investigate Saudi Arabia for raiding Premier League, particularly Chelsea players, Smart added, “Saudi Arabia are trying to bring the spotlight to their domestic league, If you can recall, before the COVID-19 pandemic, China did what Saudi are doing now by bringing top football players to their league.
“Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to the Middle East country is a blessing and an opening door for other top players to move to Saudi. As I said before, football is business, and that is what Saudi is trying to do. They will host the FIFA Club World Cup, and I think they have plans to host the FIFA World Cup in the near future.
“So they are already putting plans in place to get that spotlight. Saudi Arabia is a rich country, they have the largest mineral deposits in the Middle East.
“So in my own humble opinion, I think there is nothing for the Premier League to investigate about big football stars moving to Saudi because the country has the money and they are also doing what China did in the past, but I hope they can sustain it.
“The Premier League has nothing to fear because the English league remains the best league in the world, and they should be happy because Saudis are paying huge amounts of money to sign Premier League players.”