Former Chelsea goalkeeper Asmir Begovic has hit out at his old club’s transfer strategy in an explosive rant, even claiming the Blues made a misstep by signing Moises Caicedo.
The west Londoners have spent over £1billion since new owners Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital took over a little over a year ago yet finished in 12th place last season in the Premier League – a position they currently occupy this season after one win from their first four matches.
Begovic feels the club’s new approach to recruitment – almost exclusively targeting players under the age of 23 with potential to improve – is completely at odds with the trophy-winning history established during Roman Abramovich’s reign.
The former shot-stopper even went as far as to describe Chelsea as a ‘mid-table squad’ that he barely recognises and believes their decline is summed up by the decision to sign Caicedo rather than compete with Arsenal for Declan Rice.
Speaking on The Byline podcast, Begovic said as cited by Sports Central: ‘If you’re spending £115m on Caicedo, surely you spend £120m on Declan Rice? ‘I don’t know Declan personally, I’m not saying he doesn’t want to play for Arsenal, but hand on heart I think he’d have wanted to go to Chelsea. ‘You look at some of these players and think, “How is Declan Rice going somewhere else?” Players like this, they would go to Chelsea in the past; players in their prime, and Declan Rice is in his prime.’
He continued: ‘I watch football like a mad man and I’m not familiar with half these players. ‘For me it’s odd, the whole thing is very odd. I don’t see the construction of the team, this whole rebuilding transition phase is a bit of an excuse to me. ‘I’m not saying I don’t like Enzo Fernandez, but if we’re going to spend £230m on him and Caicedo then I’d prefer Declan Rice over any of those players if I can get him. Get the best players in through the door please.’
He went on: ‘Honestly, I mean in the last 12 months… what has happened at Chelsea football club? It just beggars belief. ‘I mean the squad of players at Mauricio Pochettino’s disposal, the amount of money spent is 12th in the league – it’s mid-table! It is literally mid-table. If they were any higher you would be working miracles. ‘You have a bit of [bad] luck with Christopher Nkunku, I get it, he’s a top player. Cole Palmer has only just come in. But what is going on with the recruitment of these players? Why is Chelsea football club rebuilding? ‘Why is Chelsea football club in a transition? This is one of the best. I mean I’ve been there. I’m proud to have been there. It’s one of the best locations to play football in the world.’
He added: ‘I remember being with players in the dressing room, world class, world class, world class. Buying from Barcelona, buying from Real Madrid, buying from Bayern Munich. It’s like, we’re buying from Brighton, potential players. And I get you need a part of that, but where is the top world class players?’.