Reviewing Chelsea’s Transfer Policy

Updated: August 29, 2015

As the Kevin De Bruyne to Man City rumours hot up it begs the question ‘Why didn’t Chelsea include a buy-back option or sell-on fee clause in the £18 million sale to Wolfsburg?’

It could well be the case there is an option or clause in place, and it simply hasn’t been reported. But until it is mentioned or confirmed by the club it is sensible to assume there is no such option or clause in place.

Chelsea’s current model for buying players young and farming them out on loan to increase in experience, ability and value is similar to the model of Barcelona and their La Masia youth academy. This model has been extremely beneficial to Barcelona, they have been able to develop players in the ‘Barcelona-way’ getting them playing passing football and easily adaptable to the first team.

But if players haven’t quite cut the mustard of Barcelona first team, yet are coveted by many clubs Barca have taken the option to sell them at a young age but with a clause in place to buy them back, or failing that a sell-on fee percentage.

Chelsea have adopted a similar method for producing players, however without the ‘B’ team system Spain employs Chelsea are forced to loan out young players to receive the same level of experience.

In the transfer market Chelsea will often sell young players that aren’t ready for the first team but in deals lacking the same insurance Barcelona make in sales of youthful prospects. Kevin De Bruyne was only 22 years old when he left Stamford Bridge, still relatively young, considering eventual solution to right-hand side of midfield Pedro was only 21 when he made his Barcelona debut.

Manchester City’s proposed £59 million deal with Wolfsburg is a £41 million increase in value in 18 months from when Chelsea sold the Belgian. Something is not quite right there. Even if Chelsea only recouped 20% of any future sell on fee, Chelsea would be owed £12 million by Manchester City in the current deal in place, making the initial relatively cheap £18 million sale in to a good £30 million deal.

One very recent example was Sterling’s move to Manchester City. When QPR sold a young Raheem Sterling to Liverpool they realised his potential and included a sell on clause. When Liverpool sold Sterling to Man City for £49 million, QPR received £9.8 million.

Another recent example of player insurances in transfers was Barcelona’s modest £4.2 million sale of Gerard Deulofeu to Everton. Without clauses that seems an absolute steal. But Barcelona included two ‘first refusal buy-back’ clauses in the first two years. They would have to pay slightly more than they sold Deulofeu for after the second year but nowhere near the markup Chelsea would have to fork out if they wanted De Bruyne back. It is also interesting to note Gerard Deulofeu is 21.

Jose Mourinho admitted one reason Kevin De Bruyne wanted to leave was that he struggled being a bit-part player having to fight for his place. He wanted to be the main man, so it will be interesting to see how he gets on at Manchester City and if he gets the game time he desires. Whether or not he lives up to his price tag, it is that very commodity that he might always be the one that got away.

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