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The Mounting Uncertainty at Chelsea Has Seen the Club Relinquish Their Top 4 Birthrig

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News of Roman Abramovich withdrawing his UK visa application coupled with the Russian shelving Chelsea’s £1bn stadium plans has added to a mounting sense of uncertainty around ​Chelsea, who are at risk of losing touch with their rivals.

The British authorities made a statement ​in refusing to renew the Russian oligarch’s visa and Abramovich hit back in some fashion, pulling the plug on £1bn worth of investment that would undoubtably have had a huge impact on the community in terms of economic and social development.

Changes to the visa process – which came to force in 2015 – means that applicants may be required to prove the origins of their wealth. This no doubt proved to be the stumbling block in Abramovich’s application, since becoming a success in Putin’s Russia demonstrates a propensity for the unsavoury – but we already knew that.

People who engage in behaviours deemed harmful to the public good are those that the British authorities are obligated to deny entry to. This does not apply to Abramovich, his visa hold-up appears to be settling a score between the two countries – with Brexit on the horizon, denying the level of investment that ‘was’ on offer seems misguided.

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This has left Chelsea in a state of confusion and although it has been reported that the owner’s visa troubles will have no impact on the running of the football club, it has added to the uncertainty around the club.

Chelsea, who have yet to decide on a manager for next season having ditched their pursuit of Maurizio Sarri (refusing to pay up to £8m of compensation), appear to be leaning towards appointing Laurent Blanc. Hardly a box office name, the Frenchman was last seen at Paris Saint-Germain over two years ago.

Yet the appointment of Chelsea’s last resort, Blanc, is still some way off completion. Whilst Chelsea wait, rival clubs are preparing for next season, and such inertia will do little to convince the likes of Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois of a prosperous future worth hanging around for.

Last month, Hazard demanded his side sign players of genuine quality this summer or risk losing him. Yet without a manager in place, and only Europa League football to contend with next season, Chelsea are not the prospect they once were.

Chelsea are of course not unfamiliar with living in a state of flux. Where managers have succeeded they in turn have quickly fallen out of favour, players have also come and gone and in some cases returned again only to once again be marginalised – see David Luiz and Nemanja Matic – yet success has been sustained.

In times of past uncertainty Abramovich’s unparalleled wealth was enough to coax a top player or manager into signing – this is no longer the case. The new self-sustaining Chelsea model, plus the club’s failure to secure Champions League football for the second time in three seasons, has led to financial parity largely being restored amongst the top six and Chelsea are paying the price.

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There is no doubt that Abramovich loves Chelsea – he has pumped hundreds of millions into the club through the years – however his willingness to invest in a country that has denied him entry will be questioned and if he were to stymie investment it may be years before we see Chelsea return to the top of the English game.

The uncertainty around Chelsea threatens to have a very real impact. The Blues are at risk of a sustained spell outside the top four and with a ground capacity far behind that of their rivals at just above 40,000, the club will in time feel the pinch. Sustainability and their ability to compete with the wealthier Manchester clubs looks some way off.



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Hector Bellerin joins Sporting CP from Barcelona

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Full-back Hector Bellerin has joined Sporting CP until the end of the season from Barcelona.

The Spanish international was signed by Barca in the summer but made just three La Liga appearances for the club in the first half of the season.

As such, Bellerin has now left the club in search of more first team football.

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A statement on Barcelona’s website reads regarding the move reads: “Barcelona and Sporting Clube de Portugal have reached an agreement for the transfer of the player Hector Bellerin. 

“FC Barcelona would like to express publicly their gratitude to Bellerin for his commitment and his dedication and wish him all the best for the future. 

“Hector Bellerin made seven appearances for the first team. FC Barcelona announced his arrival in the summer of 2022 after he left Premier League side Arsenal as a free agent. The right back returned to the Club 11 years after leaving the youth teams at FC Barcelona to join the London club. 

“Bellerin made his first team debut on 10 September in the 4-0 win away at Cádiz, starting the game at right back. The defender went to make two more appearances in La Liga, two in the Copa del Rey and two in the Champions League.”

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Crystal Palace confirm loan signing of Albert Sambi Lokonga

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Crystal Palace have confirmed the deadline day loan signing of Albert Sambi Lokonga from Arsenal.

Lokonga featured sporadically for Arsenal during the first half of the 2022/23 season, making just two Premier League starts as the Gunners have mounted an unlikely title challenge.

The midfielder has now joined Palace on loan for the remainder of the campaign in search of more regular football.

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Speaking to the club’s official website after making the move, Lokonga said: “I’m really excited – I can’t wait to get started. I’m really happy to join Crystal Palace. I want to go as far as possible with the team. I will try to push for me and the team to do the maximum to reach the top.”

Palace chairman Steve Parish was quick to praise Lokonga too, saying: “I would like to welcome Sambi to south London, and am pleased he has chosen to join Patrick’s squad for the rest of the season, after making an impressive start to life in English football.

“He has been on our radar for several years since his emergence at Anderlecht, and we very much look forward to his contribution as we push to climb the table”.

The midfielder has been replaced by Jorginho at Arsenal, with the Italian midfielder making the move across London from Chelsea to join the Gunners on a permanent deal.

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On this edition of TCOAG, Harry Symeou reacts to the news Arsenal have agreed a £12m deal to sign Jorginho from Chelsea. If you can’t see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast!



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Atletico Madrid confirm signing of Matt Doherty after Tottenham contract termination

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Atletico Madrid have confirmed the signing of Matt Doherty after the player agreed a mutual termination of his Tottenham contract.

In joining Atleti, Doherty becomes the first ever Republic of Ireland international to play for one of Spain’s top three clubs.

Doherty isn’t the only wing-back to leave Tottenham on deadline day, as the Irish star follows Djed Spence out the door – with the former Forest man joining Stade Rennais on loan until the end of the season.

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A statement from Tottenham regarding the news reads: “We have mutually agreed to the termination of Matt Doherty’s contract to enable him to join another club.

“Signed from Wolverhampton Wanderers in August, 2020, the Republic of Ireland international made 71 appearances for us in all competitions, scoring three goals.

“We should like to thank Matt for his service and wish him well for the future.”

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Both outgoings have made way for new signing Pedro Porro, who is joining Spurs on an initial loan with an obligation to buy the player outright from Sporting CP in the summer.





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