Sun. Mar 24th, 2019

Did any top-six team spend worse than the £120m Chelsea wasted on Kepa and Jorginho?

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Maurizio Sarri was finally appointed Chelsea boss in July 2018, replacing Antonio Conte who was sacked the day before.

The 60-year-old was coveted for his famous Sarriball at Napoli and impressed the Chelsea board despite having never won a trophy.

And while hindsight is a wonderful thing, Sarri’s appointment has looked dubious at points this season but more so than that has been some of the club’s summer signings.

Brazilian-born Italy international Jorginho joined Chelsea on the same day as Sarri, signing a five-year contract and costing a transfer fee of £50m.

Chelsea’s other senior signing that month was back-up goalkeeper Rob Green, before they were forced into the market following Thibaut Courtois’ move to Real Madrid.

Just days ahead of their Premier League opener away the Blues paid up the release clause of Kepa Arrizabalaga, a highly-promising but relatively unheard of Spanish goalkeeper.

Chelsea stumped up £72m (€80m) to land Kepa from Athletic Bilbao, making him the world’s most expensive goalkeeper just weeks after Liverpool signed Alisson for around £56m from Roma.

Kepa was in goal as Chelsea kicked off their campaign with a 3-0 away win at Huddersfield and went on to keep six clean sheets in the team’s 12-match unbeaten run in the league.

However, fast forward seven months and Kepa isn’t looking so steady. He was forced to apologise to Sarri, his team-mates and the club’s fans for refusing to be substituted late on in the Carabao Cup final against Manchester City.

The 24-year-old failed to prevent Chelsea losing to City on penalties and was subsequently fined one week’s wages – around £190,000 – for his act of petulance. An embarrassing moment for the club, with social media acting as the vehicle for their ridicule.

Analysing Jorginho’s impact on Chelsea seems more straightforward. Chelsea’s big defeats this season all have a similar theme.

The lasting memory of Tottenham’s 3-1 win at Wembley is Heung-Min Son leaving Jorginho in his wake to score a solo goal worthy of Cristiano Ronaldo comparisons.

Arsenal trumped their London rivals 2-0 at the Emirates in January as Aaron Ramsey man-marked the 27-year-old into submission.

Bournemouth’s 4-0 thrashing of the Blues came later that month with Jorginho in the team, while he also played the 90 minutes as they were humbled 6-0 away at Manchester City.

Jorginho also started the 2-0 home defeat to Manchester United last month and while he cannot be blamed for all the team’s failings this season it is hard to argue his performances have not contributed to their problems.

And when compared to their top-six rivals, it is hard not to agree that Chelsea’s £120m outlay on Kepa and Jorginho was the worst business.

League leaders Man City spent £60m on Riyad Mahrez who has grown as the season has gone on, scoring 11 goals in 38 appearances.

Title challengers Liverpool splashed out around £160m on four players – Allison (£56m), Naby Keita (£54m), Fabinho (£40.5m) and Xherdan Shaqiri for a cut-price £13.5m. Overall, pretty good business.

Chelsea’s direct rivals for the top four Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester United took contrasting approach to the summer transfer window.

Tottenham did not sign anyone and currently sit third.

Arsenal provided incoming boss Unai Emery with five new players totalling around £70m – Lucas Torreira (£27m), Bern Leno (£22.5m), Sokratis Papastathopoulos (£14.4m), Matteo Guendouzi (£7m) and Stephan Lichtsteiner on a free.

Torreira has impressed in patches, Leno is starting to find form, Sokratis has done okay and Guendouzi looks like one for the future. All for less than the price of Kepa.

United, still under Jose Mourinho’s management at the time, spent just a few million more than Chelsea did on Kepa by landing Fred for £53m, Diego Dalot for £20m and Lee Grant for £1.5m.

Kepa stands as the most expensive signing in the Premier League during the summer of 2018, with Transfermarkt pricing his market value at the time of transfer as £18m.

Which doesn’t make good retrospective viewing for Chelsea, although they may have more luck with Christian Pulisic, the Borussia Dortmund star they signed for £58m in January and who joins the club at the end of this season.

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