The London rivalry has moved from being fiercely contested on the pitch to off it. Arsenal vs Chelsea hasn’t been an even contest for many years – though the Gunners often came out on top when the pair went head-to-head despite the deficit in the table – but it has become quite the battlefield in the transfer market.
The Gunners have been stung by Todd Boehly’s loud, older brother-style steal of Mykhailo Mudryk, leaving Mikel Arteta licking his wounds and, ironically, turning to a previous Chelsea target Leandro Trossard in response. That isn’t the end of things either.
Declan Rice has been seen as a Chelsea player in waiting for several years but Edu and Arteta are all of a sudden in that mix now due to their enhanced on-field reputation and the likeliness of Champions League football. As for Chelsea, their attention has been turned towards other areas and new targets.
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So, with less than one week left of the window and world-class midfielders on the menu, Chelsea and Arsenal are at it again. The Blues have been pushing for Brighton’s Moises Caicedo all month but have so far been rebuffed by the Seagulls. Having signed him for less than £5m the value is already reaching upwards of £75m.
Chelsea, who have spent over £150m this month alone, have reservations over that price, the impact it could have on Financial Fair Play and also an eye towards players that may be available in the summer too. Caicedo is also one of the remaining stars of Brighton’s impressive squad under Graham Potter and Tony Bloom will be in no rush to sell.
Trossard, as mentioned, has already moved on this window for an initial £21m whilst Marc Cucurella was sold for over £60m last summer to Chelsea. It means that Brighton not only don’t want to sell another star but they are under no financial pressure to do so either, especially not mid-season.
That hasn’t stopped the interest from increasing though and Arsenal have made their stance clear, bidding £60m for the Ecuador international after Chelsea’s own £55m was rejected. There is still time for something further to happen and the Blues may feel that they have an advantage should it come to getting this over the line.
Not only do they possess Potter at the helm, the man who offered Caicedo his chance to shine in England and helped develop, but they also have the coaching staff behind that growth too including Billy Reid, Bjorn Hamberg and Bruno Saltor. Recruitment expert Paul Winstanley and Kyle Macaulay has also followed Potter, offering a familiar setup for Caicedo to enter should he move.
This all creates a better environment for negotiations to happen in, plus a person like Winstanley will be a huge miss for Brighton, effectively handing Chelsea the upper hand in part. Arsenal themselves have a good relationship with the south coast club but Chelsea’s recent successful work could be just as important.
As well as signing Cucurella – which wasn’t the most well-received transfer – Chelsea have also been actively involved over the past 12 months, selling Billy Gilmour for a cut-price fee on deadline day over the summer and also loaning impressive youngster Levi Colwill for the season.
As much as the £20m payoff for Potter and £2m for his coaching staff was a tough one to take for Brighton it wasn’t entirely unexpected and hasn’t soured relationships. Keeping these doors and lines of communication open could be crucial in the next stages of talks for Caiced…