If the name Chelsea FC wasn’t protected by Chelsea Pitch Owners it would be tempting to change it. How does Chelsea and Hove Albion sound?
It doesn’t really make sense, Hammersmith and Fulham Albion doesn’t work, yet there is a big connection between Chelsea and Brighton now. It’s not just Graham Potter and his backroom staff, it’s not just the transfer interest in the Seagulls’ star players, Todd Boehly is fascinated and driven to replicate the success on the south coast.
Maybe seagulls will now start flying around west London. Paul Winstanley’s arrival makes it six members of staff that have made the short journey from Sussex to the capital (or the Surrey-based training centre). Add in Marc Cucurella and that becomes seven. Billy Gilmour and Levi Colwill are both honing their trade in blue and white stripes now as well. Tariq Lamptey was a trendsetter two years ago when he made the move.
It’s an ode to how well-run Brighton have become. Being able to attract top clubs for not only their best players but now the men behind them. Such is the good work that the new Director of Global Talent and Transfers at Chelsea has done in eight years at Brighton, he may well outlast Potter at the club such is the drive for a sustainable model.
That’s no slight on Potter, the new owners would like him to be The Man for the next five years and some, but Winstanley’s appointment is not just to plan for those years, it’s to look well beyond that. He will work closely with the expected Christopher Vivell – who football.london expects to be announced as sporting director – meanwhile Southampton specialist Joe Shields will be the Co-Director of Recruitment and Talent when he is finished at St Mary’s. Laurence Stewart from Monaco is another that’s on-board
With this team in place and an obvious revamp needed at the club, shown by the disjointed squad and recent performances, Winstanley will be thrust straight into the mix for January and provides an important pillar to build around.
Here, football.london looks at the players he might want to bring with him.
It’s a bit too easy, this one. The Belgian forward has openly admitted that he would consider a move to Chelsea, there is interest that exists in him and that started before Potter was appointed manager. He would fit into Potter’s plan at Chelsea too.
Trossard’s contract is believed to expire at the end of the season but there is some complication with that though he will be at the World Cup for the next four weeks after a brilliant start to the season. This could raise his price past the reported £30m mark.
There is a note of caution with him. As Chelsea try to move away from short-term transfers there is risk going in for a player that has never truly been on the radar or an elite team and who is currently playing at his peak. Winstanley, who was part of the team that found Trossard for Brighton in 2019, will be aware of those risks, and may well see him as a better alternative to Hakim Ziyech or Christian Pulisic for now, but he isn’t the type of player that will transform the squad.
Another easy one. The Ecuadorian midfielder was already attracting Chelsea’s attention throughout the summer despite only joining last summer.
He is another player that will be at the World Cup but this time has been of interest to other clubs with Manchester United and Liverpool also monitoring him after an impressive start to life at Brighton.
The 21-year-old has a contract until 2025 but suits Chelsea’s current transfer desires perfectly as the club aim to oversee a quickfire midfield transformation over the next two windows. With a current value of £85m placed on him, Chelsea will be hoping Winstanley can pull a deal with his former employers if they pursue this move.
Sanchez was Potter’s own version of Ederson at Manchester City. The Spanish keeper, who joined Brighton as a youngster, was promoted over Matt Ryan after the appointment of Potter despite the popular Australian being a fan favourite.
Sanchez has since developed into one of the best keepers outside of the top six with excellent ball-playing ability deemed as being key for Potter’s No.1. With Kepa Arrizabalaga still an uncertainty in the long run and contract issues with Edouard Mendy, Sanchez may be the perfect middle-ground should Chelsea look to a new goalkeeper in the summer.
Sanchez has made the Spain squad for the World Cup and, if he impresses in Qatar, could end up costing more than £50m.
Ultimately, spending £165m on players that have achieved at a club below Chelsea is exactly the sort of business Boehly wants to avoid in the long run.