Even as Chelsea brought in 12 first-team signings across the two first transfer windows of Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital’s property for the first commitment in transfer fees of over £500million ($615m), the division of responsibilities between recruitment very active. operation was difficult to decipher for the rest of the football world.
No more. At the end of the January window which saw seven new players arrive at Cobham and Lyon right back Malo Gusto was acquired before the summer, Chelsea have moved to reorganize their senior management team as two of the widely reported recruits, Laurence Stewart from AS Monaco and Joe Shields from Southampton, officially started work.
Stewart and Paul Winstanley, who were initially hired from Brighton & Hove Albion in November to serve as director of international talent and transfers, will appoint sporting directors. The pair will take overall responsibility for driving Chelsea’s football operations, including transfers, talent identification and the recruitment process.
Reporting to Stewart and Winstanley will be technical director Christopher Vivell, who will take on a more global focus as Chelsea look to build a multi-brand model over the coming years. The rest of the senior team under the sports director is Shields, head coach Graham Potter’s trusted recruitment analyst Kyle Macaulay and long-serving data manager Matt Hallam. Head of youth development Jim Fraser will also be fully integrated as the club looks to focus most of its recruitment on elite young talent.
Further hires are expected to be made at Chelsea’s data and auditing jobs in the coming months, but Boehly and Clearlake co-founder Behdad Eghbali now believe they have their first team in place. Both men have been heavily involved in Chelsea’s first two transfer windows since the change of ownership, with Eghbali leading the club’s successful efforts alongside Winstanley to sign Mykhailo Mudryk under the noses of rivals Arsenal and Enzo Fernandez on deadline day.
Boehly and Eghbali each have a large portfolio of business interests outside of Chelsea and while they are expected to find active owners at the club, Winstanley and Stewart will be given the power to shape the club’s approach to recruitment. , from data analysis and intelligence to the mechanics of transportation and contract negotiation.
That, of course, will not prevent representatives and executives at other clubs from taking direct transfer proposals to Eghbali and Boehly, who took the title of interim sporting director following the departures of Marina Granovskaia and Petr Cech. But we hope that, by explaining their plan in this way, Chelsea will establish Winstanley and Stewart as the main points of contact for anyone interested in doing business with the club.
The two men are regarded internally as having different but complementary strengths: Stewart, whose previous role at Monaco was technical director, is more focused on driving and player performance, while Winstanley has more experience in areas of transfer negotiations and talent management – a track. an improved record with a leading role in Chelsea’s recruitment in a very busy January window.
Chelsea’s senior overhaul is also intended to mark a major change in strategy. After breaking many records for spending on transfer fees in the summer of 2022 and January 2023, Boehly and Clearlake want to invest more modestly in recruitment in the coming windows. That question is likely to be shouted with a lot of skepticism outside Stamford Bridge, given the extent of their movements in the market to date, and actions gain more credibility than words.
But the idea – voiced publicly and privately by many in the football world in recent weeks – that Chelsea is determined to disrupt and disrupt the transfer market has not been endorsed by the club. The huge transfer fees charged for players like Fernandez and the talented Mudryk who dominate the headlines are just one aspect of the investment; All of January’s signings are considered to be reasonable, incentive wages designed, over time, to help Boehly and Clearlake bring the club’s overall income to a more sustainable level. more in relation to the Roman Abramovich era.
Chelsea are also likely to continue with longer-than-average contracts where appropriate, despite UEFA’s move to limit the period over which transfer fees can be amortized for financial performance purposes (FFP) to five years from next summer cover. The idea is that extended contracts benefit the club by protecting the youth’s resale value and (hopefully) improving assets while also benefiting the players, who are guaranteed the greatest income. in case of injury.
Stewart and Winstanley are in a position to lead the conversations that support these strategic decisions, although Boehly and Eghbali are keen to maintain the more collaborative culture they sought to establish at Cobham following the departures of Granovskaia and Cech last year last, making sure everyone involved in the process has input.
Chelsea’s ownership group have been insisting since they took control of the club last summer that they want to build a world-class sporting organization and a winning team. With these structural changes, they believe they have taken a big step toward achieving that goal.
(Top photo: Denis Lovrovic/AFP via Getty Images)