The transfer market is like a game of human chess. It’s all about the art of wheeling and dealing and knowing how and when to respond to the moves of your rivals.
For Chelsea, they may hold the perfect hand going into the summer transfer window.
They have already confirmed deals for Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner, two significant upgrades for Frank Lampard’s squad. But there is also speculation that Kai Havertz, one of Europe’s most exciting young attacking players, could also be on his way to Stamford Bridge.
While many clubs would like to sign Havertz, only a few may be able to justify his reported £70m fee in this post-coronavirus world, and Chelsea are one of them.
But it is not only their financial clout that puts the Blues in the frame to land Havertz. A canny transfer strategy has played its part too. In fact, the path that leads Chelsea to this point begins with Callum Hudson-Odoi.
The winger was determined to move to Bayern Munich after becoming frustrated with a lack of opportunities in west London, but the Blues held firm.
Eventually, after negotiations and assurances over his future, Hudson-Odoi agreed to stay, and that forced Bayern to consider other options – most notably Manchester City star Leroy Sane.
The German international looks set to finally complete a move to Bayern this summer after missing out on the move last year due to a severe knee ligament injury.
Now Havertz is not the only talent from Bayer Leverkusen that Chelsea have had their eye on. Leon Bailey was also linked with a Stamford Bridge move as recently as March, but he would now appear to be the perfect signing for Pep Guardiola and City to take over from Sane.
It wouldn’t be the first time City have gone after Bailey, with the player confirming their interest before his move from Genk to Leverkusen in January 2017.
“Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool – a lot of clubs were interested,” Bailey told FourFourTwo.
That is why Chelsea have played this so smartly. While they did not choose to have a transfer ban, the decision to hold off in January was a clever one, as was their choice to fight and keep Hudson-Odoi at the club. That has caused the stars to align and put Havertz on the path to Stamford Bridge.
Signing the 21-year-old German international would be a bold and exciting next step under Lampard and make the Blues potential title contenders next season.
While some may think the groundwork for such a move was laid last year during a quiet summer, it is worth noting that the first steps of this deal were done long before Lampard was at the club, and showed Chelsea’s flexibility in the market.