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Grading Chelsea’s January transfer business

After spending £300m in January 2023, Chelsea went to the other extreme and didn’t part with a single penny.

Instead, the January window was all about clearing up their loan army and making some emergency calls to help Mauricio Pochettino’s squad at no financial cost. There were, however, a handful of significant loan exits.

Here’s a grade for each of Chelsea’s major dealings in January 2024.

Andrey SantosAndrey Santos

A new home for Santos / Adam Hunger/GettyImages

Getting Santos out of Nottingham Forest was the easiest decision Chelsea had to make this month. The 19-year-old played just seven minutes in the first half of the Premier League season and whoever signed off on that loan deal definitely deserves a talking to.

Chelsea will have wanted Santos to land at another Premier League side, but it’s a sign of the limited interest in his services that he ended up joining sister side Strasbourg on Deadline Day.

In France, there’ll be more control over his minutes and he’ll be linking up with fellow loanee Angelo. It’s not all bad, but it could be a lot better.

Grade – C

Cesare CasadeiCesare Casadei

Casadei will stay with Chelsea / Malcolm Couzens/GettyImages

Chelsea’s hands were tied a little with the decision to recall Cesare Casadei from his decent loan spell with Leicester City.

Is he ready for a significant role in the Premier League? Definitely not, but Chelsea needed a midfielder to help cover for injuries and didn’t have the funds available to sign a new one, and so Casadei was brought back.

He offers something Chelsea’s current crop of midfielders can’t – a tall frame that can actually win headers – but there’s no denying he’d be better off back with Leicester.

Grade – D

Diego MoreiraDiego Moreira

Moreira will finish the season with Chelsea / ROMAIN PERROCHEAU/GettyImages

Did Chelsea recall Moreira or did Lyon terminate his loan? Either way, the Portuguese winger is back at Stamford Bridge and, having already played for Chelsea earlier this season, can no longer be sent out on loan. He’s spending the next six months with Mauricio Pochettino’s team.

The initial loan was a waste of time – he played fewer than 300 Ligue 1 minutes – and the decision to play him earlier this season was a mistake, now leaving Chelsea with a player who is nowhere near good enough for the squad.

Moreira is expected to spend most of his time with the academy, where he is likely to take a spot away from an emerging youngster who has spent the past six months proving himself. Bad.

Grade – F

David Datro FofanaDavid Datro Fofana

Fofana has made an impact at Burnley / Copa/GettyImages

Chelsea were among the many spectators who fell for the Union Berlin illusion this season. They loaned striker David Datro Fofana to what they believed was an emerging Bundesliga contender playing in the Champions League, but watched on as the entire unit struggled to live up to last season’s heights.

Keen to get Fofana playing at a higher level, Chelsea brought him back and sent him on loan to Burnley, where he came off the bench to set up a goal on his debut against Manchester City.

The youngster will have to work hard at Burnley, who are battling at the bottom of the Premier League, but at least he’ll be playing and learning at a high level.

Grade – B

Ian MaatsenIan Maatsen

Maatsen has excelled in the early stages of his Dortmund career / Jürgen Fromme – firo sportphoto/GettyImages

This is a tricky one to grade since Maatsen should never have been allowed to leave in the first place. Chelsea have struggled at left-back but, for whatever reason, declined to look at the Dutchman and isolated him so much that he was going to let his market value tank ahead of an inevitable bargain exit.

With that frustrating context in mind, Chelsea have done pretty well out of this deal. Getting Maatsen to sign a new two-year contract with a release clause of around £30m is excellent business, and if he continues to impress with Dortmund, the Blues shouldn’t struggle to get that fee in the summer. They’re hoping to maximise an asset that, for whatever reason, wasn’t going to benefit the first team.

From a football perspective, this is a shocker from Chelsea, but if we’re talking pure business, it’s about as good as anyone could have hoped for. Shall we just stick it right in the middle?

Grade – C

Armando BrojaArmando Broja

Broja joined Fulham late on Deadline Day / Robin Jones/GettyImages

Just like Maatsen, this one needs looking at from two perspectives. Broja needed to find regular minutes, and if he wasn’t getting them at Chelsea, he’ll definitely benefit from the short trip over to Fulham.

However, from a business side of things, this is humiliating. Chelsea started off demanding £50m and rejecting loans with options for permanent transfers. When nobody met their ridiculous asking price, Chelsea decided to accept straight loans but sought a £5m fee, and when that was laughed off as well, they ended up sending Broja to Fulham for an initial £750,000.

Chelsea are now even lighter in the striker department, and for what? They were always going to demand £35m+ for Broja in the summer anyway, and a loan with Fulham is only going to do so much to change that asking price. If he plays regularly and doesn’t score, that figure is going to have to drop big time.

Grade – E

Alex MatosAlex Matos

Matos enjoyed a sensational debut / John Early/GettyImages

Alex Matos joined Chelsea from Norwich in the summer and quickly made an impression behind the scenes, earning himself a regular spot in Mauricio Pochettino’s matchday squad. When it was decided he was too good to be lost in purgatory, he was sent on loan to Huddersfield Town.

The 19-year-old had fans drooling on his debut when he dazzled in a FA Cup defeat to Manchester City and he’s done a great job ever since, really winning over his new fans and proving he has a career in senior football.

To see Huddersfield sack their manager late in January will have come as a scare for Chelsea, but the hope is that Matos proves to be too good for any new boss to ignore. So far, so good.

Grade – A

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