Leicester City experienced their first disappointment in a long time this weekend, with midfield lynchpin N’Golo Kante taking the morally-questionable decision to leave the Premier League champions for a side who finished tenth in the same division.
Financial gain strikes as the most obvious motivator behind Kante’s move to sacrifice Champions League football in order to play for a team far from guaranteed a return to Europe’s top table next term, but judging from the price widely quoted, it seems the Foxes lack the Frenchman’s fiscal savvy.
To most clubs, £32m is a serious amount of cash, but to Chelsea it’s a veritable drop in the ocean.
Their cavernous monetary resources were deepened further by an exorbitant Premier League TV package and, having failed to qualify for Europe’s top competition last season, they’ve lost significant bargaining power when it comes to strong-arming talent from rivals.
Leicester made over 400% profit on Kante according to reports, but Chelsea’s negotiators will be first to tell them they should’ve brokered a better deal.
In 2013/14, the Blues’ hagglers squeezed £37m out of Manchester United for Juan Mata.
The Spaniard may have been the club’s two-time player of the year, but at the time of his departure he was very much second string under Jose Mourinho.
Another example saw David Luiz, whom the Portuguese coach rarely deployed in his preferred position of centre-back owing to the risks involved, sold to Paris Saint-Germain for £50m, making him the most expensive defender of all time.
On those respective deals, Chelsea made £5m and £17m more selling reserve players than what Leicester did selling their star man to a direct rival.
This doesn’t take into account the Blues’ bottomless wealth, their need to pay above the odds owing to a lack of continental football and the fact that Kante just played a prominent role for France on their run to the Euro 2016 final; all value-enhancing variables.
In a transfer market where, for example, John Stones, whose 2015/16 campaign with Everton serves as a direct contrast to the one Leicester’s anchorman savoured, is rumoured to be worth north of £50m to potential suitors, there’s no doubting how good a deal this is for Chelsea, who can be backed at a freshly-trimmed 6/1 to swipe the Foxes’ Premier League crown.