Chelsea are currently in the process of rejigging their recruitment department, with talks on to find a sporting director capable of leading the Blues’ transfer dealings for the coming years.
PSG advisor Luis Campos has been spoken to and so has Red Bull Salzburg’s Christoph Freund, with Chelsea owner Todd Boehly keen to hear a number of different perspectives before deciding who he will put his faith in for the next transfer windows.
Regardless of who gets hired for the role, their first job should be striking a deal for Brighton midfielder Moises Caicedo.
Chelsea have spent a lot of money on their attack and even more on their defence, and while results at both ends of the field are still very much a work in progress, all that spending has done is highlight the significant deficiency in midfield.
Issues in the centre of the park are nothing new to Chelsea, but they seem to be getting progressively worse as the core group of players continue to lose their battle with Father Time.
Jorginho, who turns 31 in December, was never particularly mobile at the best of times, while 31-year-old N’Golo Kante has been picking up injury after injury after injury over the past few years.
The Frenchman, who is Chelsea’s only defensively inclined midfielder, has barely been available over the past few seasons and is obviously approaching the twilight of his career. An alternative, if not a replacement, should have been sourced long before the Deadline Day panic signing of Denis Zakaria on loan from Juventus.
Finding a like-for-like replacement for Kante is nearly impossible, but that doesn’t even matter. Chelsea need somebody who can combine above-average defending with energy and purpose in midfield, and Caicedo brings all that to the table.
The Ecuador international would have been an intriguing signing last summer but, with former Brighton man Graham Potter now in the dugout at Stamford Bridge, this one almost feels like a no-brainer.
Under Potter, Caicedo emerged as one of the Premier League’s most exciting midfield powerhouses. While not a conventional defensive midfielder, the 20-year-old has operated as both an anchor man and a box-to-box midfielder, flashing the sort of tactical versatility that Potter demands of his players.
Chelsea haven’t had a player like that in years, since Kante’s smile proved too big for his muscles to withstand, and for some reason, the idea of signing another one permanently has not been pursued.
The Blues passed on Aurelien Tchouameni in 2021, deeming the Frenchman too inexperienced for such a move. Instead, Saul Niguez was signed on loan, endured a disasterous campaign and returned to Atletico Madrid to share a city with Tchouameni, who sealed a €100m move to Real Madrid that already looks like a bargain.
This summer, the focus was on the defence, so much so that Chelsea didn’t even make a move for a midfielder until Deadline Day. Ajax’s Edson Alvarez was a target before Zakaria eventually joined in a Saul 2.0 loan move.
Chelsea can no longer ignore the hole in their midfield. Their current crop are all getting on in years, while Kante and Jorginho are both approaching the end of their contracts. The time to buy a new midfielder is not now, it was 12 months ago. Now, it’s not optional. It’s a necessity.
Caicedo is going to join a top side very soon and he has openly admitted that he would join Chelsea if the Blues came calling. The seeds have already been sewn.
Under contract until 2025, Caicedo is an attainable option for Chelsea. He understands the league and has already mastered the methods of the manager, allowing him to settle in faster than an overseas player who poses more of a risk.
It makes all the sense in the world. That usually wasn’t enough for the old Chelsea regime, but whoever gets the gig this time needs to flip the record and make sure it is for them.