Chelsea’s pursuit of Brighton midfielder Moises Caicedo is developing into one of the summer’s lengthiest transfer sagas and with no sign of a breakthrough in negotiations between suitor and seller, frustration is starting to boil over.
The marauding Ecuadorian is thought to be keen on a switch to Stamford Bridge, though he hasn’t rocked the boat as much as he did back in January when he took to social media to try to force a winter exit.
Just a couple of months after that, Caicedo signed new terms with Albion until 2027, a decision that already looks a little ill-judged in retrospect, with his longer contract handing the Seagulls all the negotiating power this summer.
Chelsea have already had two bids rebuffed for Caicedo since the end of the Premier League season and while the Londoners are expected to return with an even meatier offer for the 21-year-old soon, they might be wiser to cool their interest in the midfielder – and here’s why.
Caicedo a price too high for Chelsea?
To hand an empathetic olive branch to Brighton, their demand for a figure close to £100m for Caicedo is realistic from their perspective in the sense that the tough-tackler is probably on a par with Declan Rice in terms of ability and the position he plays.
If Arsenal paid over £100m for the former West Ham skipper, then why shouldn’t Albion get the same for Caicedo?
The counter-argument of course, is that Arsenal vastly overpaid for their signing – a point that is pretty difficult to swat away when you consider the factors.
While Rice is a performer of pedigree, he is one of many players to have been swept along at a supersonic rate of speed by the England hype train and Three Lions tax usually adds more than a few zeros to transfer fees.
Chelsea’s first offer for Caicedo meanwhile, was £70m – which was more in line with the money paid by Man Utd and Man City for top defensive midfielders Casemiro and Rodri in 2022 and 2019 respectively.
After the Blues’ opening offer was rejected, they returned with a second-improved bid of £80m for Caicedo, which was already generous in the extreme. That offer didn’t cut the mustard at Brighton either, however, the second rejection should really spark a change of tack at Chelsea and a change of targets in the market.
Chelsea – and cash-rich Premier League clubs in general – seem to have an issue identifying and sticking to a reasonable cut-off point of valuation for the players they pursue and as some of the least savvy operators in the market, the division’s bigger fish quite regularly get scalped by selling clubs.
In the era of detailed analytics and data-driven recruitment, there are more opportunities to be smarter in the transfer realm and while Moises Caicedo is an exciting player, you just know that the “next” three Caicedos will be snapped up by other clubs around the continent for pittances this summer – perhaps even by Brighton, who are better than most at unearthing up rough diamonds.
Chelsea are believed to have lined up Romeo Lavia as an alternative to Caicedo if their chase for the latter runs out of zip and the Southampton youngster would certainly be lighter on the Blues pockets at £50m.
The 19-year-old Belgian averaged 2.1 tackles per game to Caicedo’s 2.7 and 1.1 interceptions to the Ecuadorian’s 1.5, while the eye test suggested Lavia was a smidgen more composed in possession than the Brighton’s star for much of the campaign.
For a fee circling £100m, the Caicedo deal would make little sense for Chelsea, though I doubt the Blues will be clever enough to pump the brakes on their pursuit.