In the closing days of last summer’s transfer window, a reason cited for Chelsea backing out of signing Monaco’s highly-rated midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni was due to him needing more experience instead opting for a deadline day loan for Saul Niguez from Atletico Madrid.
Tchouameni, 21 at the time, still was believed to need another season in Ligue 1 to gain more experience before the Blues would come back for his signature in 2022. But as French outlet RMC Sport broke on Tuesday afternoon, Real Madrid have agreed a five-year-deal with Los Blancos for a fee around £68m.
Chelsea had Tchouameni in their sights for some time, even holding meetings with his representatives last summer and being a widely known target since March of 2021. Allowing Tchouameni to remain at Monaco led to him becoming a French international alongside Paul Pogba, gaining more admirers and potential suitors as the proposed fee inflated.
Saul was always a short-term fix. A player signed out of convenience for both clubs rather than longer-term planning. A small example that exemplifies a wider problem in Chelsea’s transfer strategy in the remaining years of the Roman Abramovich era that Todd Boehly’s consortium must attempt to rectify quickly.
Along with the need to replace the departing Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger, the central midfield has been an area overdue for a revamp for several years. With both Jorginho and N’Golo Kante entering the final year of their current contract, there is no more suitable summer to recruit someone younger, particularly of a defensive midfield profile, to properly replace Nemanja Matic, who left in 2017.
Tchouameni was seen as a slightly cheaper but shrewd alternative to Declan Rice that was quickly developing into one of Europe’s most dynamic and impactful midfielders with years left to develop. Real Madrid spotted that and have capitalised, while Chelsea could not due to the sanctions placed on Abramovich back in March that will not be lifted until the takeover is complete.
Chelsea could have acquired Tchouameni last summer when they were the clear frontrunners to boldly invest in an area that has needed it for s…