The evening of Saturday, 14 January is one that will be remembered for the failings in the transfer market of two of the Premier League’s biggest clubs.
While ageing Liverpool were busy being demolished 3-0 by a Brighton side put together on a shoestring, Chelsea were busy masterminding an incredible €100 million move for a player in Mykhailo Mudryk that they have little apparent need for.
It would be easy to portray the two clubs in a contrasting fashion. Liverpool’s fans claim their club has not spent enough while Chelsea’s have watched their new owners splash a world-record sum in the summer transfer window. By the time Mudryk joins, they will have spent around €500 million in six months.
Premier League 2022/23 January transfers: All the Done Deals
In reality, though, it is not about how much money has been spent, more in the manner it has been spent. Chelsea and Liverpool are presently clubs was undeniably flawed transfer policies.
Liverpool, after all, completed a big-money move to sign Cody Gakpo from PSV for €42m earlier this month. It remains the biggest transfer of the 2023 January transfer window, though it is set to be dwarfed by Chelsea’s move for Mudryk, which has come about after Arsenal failed to get a deal over the line.
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Right players, wrong priorities
Wallowing in an unfamiliar position in the middle of the Premier League table, while their greatest rivals in Arsenal and Manchester United enjoy long-overdue revivals, each team has obvious failings that they are refusing to acknowledge.
As their jaded performance at the AmEx Stadium showed, Liverpool are crying out for a midfield overhaul, yet have focused their spending this season on the attacking areas. This includes a bumper summer move for Darwin Nunez, who continues to split opinion after a mixed start at Anfield.
Chelsea are similarly in need of reinforcements in the centre of the park, though their problems are more widespread, with a lack of effective centre forward a long-standing problem at Stamford Bridge. It appears they have given up on replacing Kai Havertz and instead are fixed on bolstering their ranks with an unlimited number of attacking midfield options. Mudryk is just the latest of these, with Christopher Nkunku to follow in the summer.
Another point in common between the clubs is that they are going through a transitional process behind the scenes. Chelsea’s needs little introduction given the overhaul behind the scenes over the last year at Stamford Bridge, while Liverpool appear unable to replace Michael Edwards, who departed last summer.
While Liverpool sit inert, Chelsea are overspending on a player who at 22 has just 12 goals in 44 senior appearances – seven of which have arrived in a Ukraine Premier League that has seen an exodus of its top stars this season. It is hard to know which is the greater crime. What is clear, though, is that neither club is presently on the right track.