Mykahylo Mudryk could cost Chelsea €100m if Ballon d’Or add-ons or some other such nonsenses are achieved in his eight-and-a-half years to come at Stamford Bridge. But who will be the next nine-figure Premier League figure?
We’ve ranked these ten players by their chances of being the next big-money buy. They might not all go to Chelsea.
10) Florian Wirtz (Bayer Leverkusen)
Man Utd were pretty heavily linked with the teenager a year ago when Ralf Rangnick was looking to raid Germany for young talent, but it’s all gone a bit quiet since Wirtz signed a new deal with Bayer Leverkusen until 2027.
Bayern Munich are hovering, because he’s good and German and doesn’t play for Bayern Munich, but Leverkusen have apparently slapped a €150m price tag on him, which will at least attract the attention of Chelsea, who have adopted the transfer mantra that the higher a club values a player, the harder they must try to sign them.
9) Jamal Musiala (Bayern Munich)
Germany’s standout star at the World Cup was pilfered from the Southampton academy for nothing by Chelsea, as is their wont, then let go for next to nothing to become one of the most valuable footballers in the world, as is also their wont. Musiala has the most goals (9) and assists (8) for table-topping Bayern Munich this season, with manager Julien Nagelsmann believing “snake legs” has plenty of room for improvement despite already being “world class”.
8) Rafael Leao (AC Milan)
Leao has rebuffed a number of contract extension offers from AC Milan, and club director Paolo Maldini’s claim that the winger’s will to stay at the San Siro “seems to be there” isn’t all that convincing. The 23-year-old is in an excellent negotiating position with 18 months left on his current deal and some very big offers from elsewhere being floated.
Chelsea reportedly saw a bid of €70m turned down in the summer and will have a private jet, a blank cheque and Rohypnol at the ready after Leao made the fatal mistake last month of revealing “I like Arsenal”.
7) Josko Gvardiol (RB Leipzig)
Christopher Vivell, Chelsea’s new technical director, is said to have ‘knocked on the door’ to get Gvardiol in January, to which RB Leipzig said no, as they did in the summer. But it’s thought the German club are willing to cash in on the 20-year-old – who was excellent for Croatia in Qatar – when the summer transfer window rolls around.
Madrid have of course been linked, as have Tottenham, who would have to sell Harry Kane and then spend all of that fee and more – in a move which would double their record transfer – to sign a player who is good, but is unlikely to score 30 goals a season.
6) Khvicha Kvaratskhelia (Napoli)
“He will reach €100million (£86.7million) for sure,” Kvaratskhelia’s agent said back in November as his client caught admiring eyes through his Champions League displays for Napoli. That would be a mark-up of 900% in a year for the Serie A side should they sell him in the summer.
The 21-year-old has nine goals and 12 assists in 20 games this season and is one of the most joyful footballers to watch. Arsenal have apparently stuck him on their shortlist after Chelsea pinched Mudryk, and the ‘Georgian Messi’ has as good a chance of becoming a real superstar as the Ukrainian.
5) Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund)
Every club wants him and unfortunately for the Premier League, every club includes Real Madrid, who are apparently ‘getting closer’ to a €270m deal for the England international. That would rule out self-proclaimed penny-pinchers Liverpool, despite the best efforts of Jordan Henderson and Trent Alexander-Arnold, who whispered sweet nothings in Bellingham’s ear throughout their time in Qatar together.
At that price Manchester City will provide more viable competition for Madrid, as will Chelsea, who clearly have no transfer limit and no shame when it comes to dragging footballers kicking and screaming to Stamford Bridge.
4) Joao Felix (Atletico Madrid)
Atletico Madrid bent Chelsea over a barrel to get a £9m loan fee for six months of Felix, plus his wages, with no option to buy included. But it’s claimed Chelsea are confident they can sign the Portugal international permanently at the end of the season should they wish.
Reports suggested Atletico were willing to accept deals with a £70m buy option, but given they’re dealing with a club who have spent comfortably more money than any other in history in a single season with two weeks of potential spending to come, that price will likely rise with any indication that Chelsea want to keep the 23-year-old at the club.
Having been more of a threat than Chelsea’s other forwards have been all season in an hour of football at Craven Cottage, if Felix can stay on the pitch long enough it’s likely Graham Potter will want to keep him beyond the summer. If Chelsea want to keep Graham Potter beyond the summer.
3) Enzo Fernandez (Benfica)
You would struggle to find a better illustration of fickleness in football than Enzo Fernandez scoring a goal for Benfica, beating the club badge on his cheat and pointing to the turf to indicate ‘this is my home’ a day after he was packing his bags for a move to Chelsea, as the fans who cursed his name now roared it in delight.
Benfica were understandably a bit peeved by Todd Boehly claiming they would meet the £106m release clause, which made Fernandez “crazy”, before offering £70m and their pick of a bunch of Chelsea outcasts. But the Blues still need a central midfielder, while Liverpool – whose interest in Fernandez stretches back to his River Plate days – need two or three.
2) Victor Osimhen (Napoli)
The Napoli striker is said to be one of three striker targets for Erik ten Hag in the summer, along with Harry Kane and RB Leipzig’s Benjamin Sesko. With ten goals in his last nine Serie A games, Osimhen is one of very few top strikers in Europe right now, but will likely cost significantly more than €100m given Napoli may end up paying that much to Lille through bonus payments accrued on top of their initial €70m outlay.
1) Declan Rice (West Ham)
A dead cert to leave West Ham in the summer, and it’s hard to imagine anyone overseas willing to pay what they want for him. Rice has just about reached that tipping point where fans wouldn’t blame him for leaving – depending where he goes, of course. He should not be playing for a side in the relegation zone.
He was definitely in danger of being priced out of a move a la Harry Kane before West Ham reportedly dropped their demands. David Moyes at one stage said West Ham wouldn’t listen to offers below £150m.