Five more Todd Boehly Project-busting Chelsea transfers after Dominic Calvert-Lewin

Will Ford
calvert-Lewin Mitchell Wissa
Chelsea are hunting for bargains this summer.

Potential FFP charges and ensuing point deductions have put the willies up the Chelsea owners. There’s a palpable shift in their mindset this summer with their transfer strategy of signing very expensive children up to lifelong contracts failing to reap the rewards to make that policy sustainable.

Another £500m spend when you’ve got to sell £100m worth of academy products to balance the books probably isn’t a viable option, and they’ve now lumbered new manager Enzo Maresca with an imbalanced squad full of holes and little money available to fill them.

They’ve signed Tosin Adarabioyo on a free transfer, which is a job well done seeing as he’s a decent centre-back whom Maresca has already worked with at Manchester City. But a report on Thursday stating Chelsea’s interest in Dominic Calvert-Lewin was more than a little jarring.

He’s 27 for one, which doesn’t fit with The Project. He’s always injured, which is very Chelsea but not a quality in footballers they should be pursuing. But above all that – and admittedly this too is very on brand for Chelsea – he’s a striker who doesn’t score goals.

We assume Chelsea are attracted by him being out of contract at the end of next season, meaning they should be able to snag him on the cheap. But in terms of appeal that is all we could muster. Calvert-Lewin’s not a terrible footballer, we are just really struggling to see him as the 20-plus goal striker to take Chelsea back into the Champions League.

It got us thinking: which other mediocre Premier League players might Chelsea take a punt on this summer? We’ve come up with five, all of whom are out of contract in the next couple of years and play in positions that need filling at Stamford Bridge.


Ola Aina
The 27-year-old would join David Luiz, Nemanja Matic and Romelu Lukaku as one of few Chelsea returnees. He left Stamford Bridge for Torino in 2019, had a loan stint at Fulham and then moved on a free transfer to Nottingham Forest at the start of last season. It was only a one-year deal but Forest have understandably taken up the option of another year after his impressive displays last term.

He’s predominantly a right-back but can operate on either flank, and has also been used a wing-back on occasion at the City Ground. There’s obvious Knows The Club advantages to his signing, which the new owners can delight in claiming was an obvious one as Aina should never have been sold by the previous regime. Shame on them for selling academy graduates.


Tyrick Mitchell
We’re playing fast and loose with the term mediocre. We actually think Mitchell was pretty unfortunate not to have at least made Gareth Southgate’s training squad instead of one of the four English centre-backs-cum-full-backs after an impressive season for Crystal Palace which saw him start 37 of their 38 Premier League games and look typically consistent throughout.

He’s solid and reliable, something Chelsea have lacked at left-back for a long, long time. Ben Chilwell is great when fit – like properly fit, not just fit enough to play – but he never is. Marc Cucurella showed green shoots of improvement at the end of the season but has been terrible for the majority of the time since his move from Brighton.

We reckon Marcos Alonso is the only top left-back Chelsea have had (who’s managed to stay fit) since Ashley Cole, and he wasn’t really a left-back. Felipe Luis, Kenedy, Emerson and – God help us – Baba Rahman have all joined in the decade since Cole left and been rubbish.

It would be a big surprise if Crystal Palace allowed Mitchell to leave on a free at the end of next season, meaning Chelsea could throw their hat in the ring to disrupt contract negotiations this summer.

We’ve talked ourselves into this one. Mitchell to Chelsea? Yes please.


Sean Longstaff
We (sort of) tried and definitely failed to hide our mirth at Manchester United launching a £50m bid for Longstaff five years ago. The midfielder was 21 at the time and hadn’t yet played 1,000 minutes in the Newcastle first team.

“People are talking about you and have built you up so much that the perception is ‘Now you’re like Lionel Messi’,” Longstaff said recently, reflecting on the failed move. I think we can speak for everyone when we say no-one had that perception Sean.

He’s now played 182 games for Newcastle and managed eight goals and two assists in his best season yet in 2023/24. He’s a decent if unspectacular central midfielder who is consistently fine and occasionally very good. He didn’t look too out of his depth in the Champions League, scoring against PSG in the 4-1 win, but you get the sense that Newcastle would have outgrown him by now if they had any FFP wiggle room to sign a replacement.

Chelsea need a midfield body though. Reports suggest Maresca is after Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall to replace Conor Gallagher, but Leicester want £40m, presumably significantly more than what’s required for Longstaff, who would be a delicious pure profit sale for Newcastle like Gallagher is for Chelsea and has just a year left on his current deal.

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Yoane Wissa
Raheem Sterling was very good, then very bad and then fine, but the majority of Chelsea fans have taken against him and would ideally like him to be on his way. Most of them bloody love Mykhaylo Mudryk because they can’t stand the thought of a player they thought could be rubbed in Arsenal faces may in fact not be up to it.

In any case, Chelsea could do with some cover on the left wing and Wissa was (very) quietly pretty good for Brentford last season.

Ivan Toney grabs the headlines and if not him then Bryan Mbuemo, but Wissa got 12 goals and three assists, contributing to more than a quarter of Brentford’s Premier League goals, with ten of those contributions coming in the last 12 games of the season. He’s direct, now has three years of experience in the top flight and won’t cost the world with his contract up in two years’ time.


Moussa Niakhate
Chelsea have spent £200m on centre-backs under their current owners, and we’re not convinced any of them are good enough.

Axel Disasi has been reasonably consistent but his best isn’t anything to write home about, while Benoit Badiashile shows signs of being really very good but has also dropped some absolute clangers. Kalidou Koulibaly’s already left the club and Wesley Fofana has been glued to the treatment table. Trevoh Chalobah’s arguably been the best Chelsea centre-back but will definitely be sold if a half-decent offer arrives for him.

We’re not saying Niakhate is better than all or any of them. Quite simply, Chelsea could do with another centre-back assuming Chalobah follows Thiago Silva out of the door but won’t be able to spend enough to sign someone who’s definitely going to be better than the players Maresca already has at his disposal, with Levi Colwill another in that bracket of quite good, might be brilliant, but don’t really know Chelsea defenders.


Caoimhin Kelleher
Reports suggest Maresca is looking forward to working with Robert Sanchez, which will concern the majority of Chelsea fans, who were rather more fond of Djordje Petrovic last season, if far from convinced he could be the long-term solution to a goalkeeping problem that – save for one excellent season from Edouard Mendy – the club has endured since Thibaut Courtois left for Real Madrid six years ago.

Liverpool didn’t particularly miss Alisson, which is a significant feather in the cap of Kelleher, who has now apparently been told he’s free to leave Liverpool in search of more consistent game time. We won’t pretend he’s a world-class goalkeeper, or may ever be, but he showed in those months for Liverpool that he has what is takes to be a medium-term stopgap until Chelsea can cobble together the funds for someone closer to the level of Courtois or Petr Cech.