Chelsea 2023 Signings Underperforming and Reasons for Concern

2023 has seen Chelsea make huge changes to their squad. Record-breaking fees and under-the-radar investments have brought Chelsea a whole new set of players. Some of those Chelsea 2023 signings have yet to make an impact and have been as invisible as the Chelsea sponsor logo on their kit.

January Signings

In the January 2023 transfer window, Chelsea made headlines. There were 8 incoming signings and 4 outgoings, but it was the new signings that caused shockwaves in the media.

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Recent World Cup Winner Enzo Fernandez has not missed a single fixture since being signed by Chelsea in January and has proven to be a strong figure in the London side’s midfield with his precise passing, skilful dribbling and tackling. However, the player has only registered 2 assists and 1 goal since joining.

Mykhailo Mudryk has spent more time on the bench than on the pitch since joining Chelsea but has shown great potential that is yet to be fully unleashed. Madueke has made a few appearances as well, and has managed 2 goals for the club so far – another promising talent.

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Benoît Badiashile was impressive in his 11 appearances and scored 1 goal for Chelsea last season but has missed a lot of games due to injury, and is yet to make an appearance this season. Datro Fofana scored 1 goal for Chelsea’s U-21 team, and despite not managing any goals or assists for the senior team, displayed great potential as well. João Félix scored 4 goals in his short spell at a struggling Chelsea side, the Portuguese player expressing great talent and potential.

Andrey Santos and Malo Gusto were impressive in pre-season. Since joining Nottingham Forest, Andrey Santos has made only 1 appearance for Nottingham Forest against Burnely in the Carabao Cup on August 30th. Questions are arising on whether loaning him to Nottingham Forest was the wrong move and whether it will hinder his development.

Malo Gusto has gotten a fair chance to play for Chelsea after Captain Reece James sustained injury during the club’s first game of the season. With 7 appearances, Gusto is now the first-choice right-back until Reece James is back. Chelsea will however miss having Gusto’s passing that initiates attacking from the back as he received a red card in their most recent game against Aston Villa.

Summer Signings

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Nicolas Jackson is Chelsea’s current main striker for Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino but has only scored 1 goal in 7 matches across all competitions so far. During pre-season, he looked like the complete striker with 2 goals and 3 assists. His pace and skills are still visible now that the season is underway, but his finishing seems to be lacking.

Moises Caicedo has had a slow start to his Chelsea debut season, but just like a lot of the new signings, has shown glimpses of great potential. Caicedo is familiar with the Premier League, having been at Brighton previously. In his time at Brighton, he was recognised as one of the club’s best, and those high expectations are yet to be fulfilled at Chelsea.
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Since Kepa‘s loan departure to Real Madrid, Robert Sanchez has taken on the role of number one goalkeeper at Chelsea this season. He looked a bit shakey in his first few games but has made improvements in the latter stages. With 72.7% successful saves so far, Chelsea will be hoping that his trajectory keeps climbing. In today’s Carabao game against his former side, Brighton, he might be benched in place of Djordje Petrovic who might get his first chance to play for Chelsea since signing this summer.

Romeo Lavia was signed from Southampton but is yet to make an appearance for the Blues. He is suffering from an ankle injury sustained from training over the international break. Christopher Nkunku is another sidelined signing after the knee injury he encountered in pre-season. Before the injury, Nkunku looked to be the perfect signing as he scored 3 goals, the striker one of their strongest players.

What does it look like moving forward?

Chelsea’s 2023/24 squad has an average age of 23.7 years, a component that seems key to the reason Chelsea has had a slow start to the season.

The new season, new squad and new manager are a new beginning for Chelsea. Unfortunately, it has not been the easiest of starts, and what might be painful for supporters to hear is that it will stay hard before things start to really change at the club.

With such a young squad comes inexperience. And with inexperience comes mistakes which inevitably lead to losses.

Chelsea have missed more big chances (15) than any other team in the Premier League. 7 of those big chances have been missed by Jackson. As mentioned earlier, a lot of the new signings are players who need more time, and the same goes for Nicolas Jackson.

Mauricio Pochettino seems to favour the 3-4-2-1 and the 4-2-3-1 formation, and with key players injured, fit players are finding it harder to adjust to this style of play. Enzo Fernandez for one has found himself playing as a number 10, and Levi Colwill as a left-back when Enzo’s stronger suiting is a number 8 and Colwill is more effective as a centre-back.

Eight players are currently out on injury, with 7 of them Starting XI choices. This has no doubt played a part in the slow start to the season for the club. Injuries paired with a young squad that need time and proper development are proving to be Chelsea’s worst nightmare. The ‘project’ was already expected to take time, but with pre-season injuries and injuries being sustained in training and/or at games early into the season, more time might be needed.

The positive is that Chelsea are not objectively bad as all seems to go wrong when the players reach the final third. Confidence and precision in the attack could completely turn things around for the squad, and goals will no longer be scarce.

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