After finishing the season in second place, relinquishing their Premier League crown to Manchester United and failing in Europe again, Chelsea are expected to spend big this summer in order to return to the top in 2011-12. The Blues may already have set the benchmark with their £71m January deals for Fernando Torres and David Luiz, yet owner Roman Abramovich is likely to pull out his chequebook and part with many more millions, despite Chelsea’s substantial debt as revealed by Deloitte’s latest Annual Review of Football Finance.
The West Londoners have become accustomed to being at the top of the Premier League since Abramovich’s 2003 takeover but they take some topping in the terms of their overall debt. With arrears of £734m, the Blues comfortably owe the most of all Premier League clubs, well ahead of title rivals Manchester United (£590m) and third-placed Liverpool (£351m). Likewise, Chelsea have the biggest wage bill per season at a whopping spend of £174.1m, eclipsing nearest big-spenders Manchester City (£133.3m) and their city neighbours United (£131.7m). They also came second only to Manchester City (£235.3m) in the amount of net transfer loss over the last four years, posting a £162.5m deficit that will surely rise again if the anticipated summer transfer activity comes to fruition.
Despite owing such huge sums of money, this summer’s transfer window is likely to see one of the largest spending sprees with high value moves probable within a competitive Premier League market. As rivals Manchester United and Liverpool splashed the cash this week with purchases of Phil Jones and Jordan Henderson respectively, the Blues are yet to open their summer transfer account but that may soon be about to change. Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku has been a long-term Blues target after growing into one of Europe’s most coveted young forwards during his time at Anderlecht. After 31 goals in 71 games in Belgium, Lukaku has drawn the attention of most of Europe’s elite with, it seems, Chelsea in pole position to secure his signature after their long-term interest developed into a determined bid for the talented forward.
The 18-year-old has admitted his dream to play in England and a £20m bid plus add-on bonuses may sway his club to let him move to London. Physically imposing at 6’3”, strong and with a deadly finish in his armoury, Lukaku has inevitably drawn comparisons to an established Blues hero. Dubbed the new ‘Didier Drogba’, the opportunity for the youngster to learn for a season under his role model at Chelsea would be great for his development should the 33-year-old Ivorian remain at Stamford Bridge.
The West Londoners have also been linked with big-money moves for a number of stars from around the world, including Brazilian wonder-kid Neymar of Santos after failing to secure the forward’s services last summer and, should Guus Hiddink leave Turkey and return as manager to Stamford Bridge, fellow Dutchman Wesley Sneijder could follow from Inter Milan as they look to reestablish Chelsea to the summit of the Premier League next season.