According to Fabrizio Romano, Chelsea have today activated the relegation release clause of £20m in the contract of Leeds United’s Tyler Adams, and the player will now travel to Cobham to undergo a medical and agree personal terms with the club.
This release clause was reported by The Athletic’s Phil Hay at the end of July, and once that became common knowledge, interest in the midfielder naturally increased – but it’s a race that Chelsea have been at the forefront of since the beginning.
Tyler Adams transfer fee
It’s easy to imagine that the ten days of negotiations that have reportedly taken place between the two clubs were Chelsea trying to see if there was any room for manoeuvre or if Leeds were going to hold steadfast on the release clause being met in full, and it appears that the latter is what we’re seeing right now.
Chelsea have been looking to strengthen their midfield corps of late, with an ongoing dialogue with Brighton over the possibility of signing Moises Caicedo being one of the sagas of the summer, but also making a reported bid for Southampton’s Romeo Lavia this week.
It would appear that the addition of more than one midfielder who can play in Mauricio Pochettino’s pivot is the aim of the game – allowing Chelsea to experiment a little bit, mixing and matching to find the perfect partner for Enzo Fernandez, who the Blues made the Premier League’s most expensive ever signing back in January when they acquired him from Benfica.
All of Lavia, Caicedo and Adams fit that mould, but Adams provides a relatively unique combination of things that perhaps the others don’t bring to the table, at a very reasonable price point.
What would Adams bring to Chelsea?
First and foremost, Adams is an excellent footballer. Whilst Leeds were relegated last season, the American was one of the few consistently bright spots in a dark year for the Yorkshire side.
Adams picked up a hamstring injury in March and didn’t feature for Leeds in the all-important run-in, which felt like a large contributing factor to the club’s demise.
Former USMNT international Brad Friedel, talking on Sky Sports, said that “if he doesn’t get injured, then I think Leeds stay up”, which feels like a relatively common viewpoint amongst many who watched the Leeds midfield implode towards the season’s end.
Chelsea are not the first Premier League club to be linked with Adams this summer. Unai Emery’s Aston Villa were rumoured to be interested at the start of the summer, before they signed Youri Tielemans; whilst Arsenal and Brighton have both been linked in the window too.
So clearly there’s something in Adams that Premier League scouting departments like. And in reality, it’s more likely to be a real combination of things.
The USMNT midfielder is a one-man defensive engine room, ranking highly when compared with Premier League midfielders for tackles attempted, tackles won, interceptions and aerial duels – the latter being perhaps most impressive due to Adams’ relatively diminutive stature.
He’s tenacious in midfield, has an incredibly high work-rate, drifts wide to cut out attacks down the flanks, counter-presses well, and is positionally astute – all hallmarks of his two and half years at RB Leipzig, and the Red Bull pipeline that he came through in New York.
With N’Golo Kante leaving Chelsea this summer, the presence of Adams would do much to alleviate the loss of one of Stamford Bridge’s most beloved players from an on-pitch perspective.
He’s not a perfect player – Adams' ability to travel with the ball isn’t great, and neither is his ball retention in terms of his passing game. But with a player of Enzo Fernandez’s on-ball quality next to him, that should be mitigated somewhat.
And whilst he’s just 24, there is an intangible factor to consider with Adams too. Having been playing senior football since the age of 16, having played in the Bundesliga and the Champions League for Leipzig, as well as the Premier League; and also having captained both Leipzig and the USMNT side at a tender age, Adams brings experience and leadership to a young Chelsea side.
There's a reason for being handed that kind of responsibility for both club and country. Whilst he may be young, Adams has been described as a leader on the pitch by both fellow players and managers alike. Current USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter has referred to him as “the General” of their side.
There’s also an element of versatility to his play. Whilst undoubtedly primarily a central midfielder, Adams filled in at both full-back and wing-back in his time in Leipzig, giving him a feel for covering different positions that will almost certainly be a bonus for coach Mauricio Pochettino as he tries to work out the best shape and system for a fresh-feeling Chelsea squad.
Interestingly, Adams made his senior debut in a friendly against Chelsea for the New York Red Bulls, scoring in the game, all the way back in 2015. So in terms of arc, this feels like he’s going full circle.
The Boehly Factor
Regardless of how talented a player Adams is, there will still be some eyes raised at Chelsea over bringing in a player who featured heavily for a Leeds United side that were relegated from the Premier League last season.
That wasn’t all Adams’ fault by any stretch of the imagination, and there is still credit in the bank from a promising spell at RB Leipzig before that switch to Elland Road, but it is worth considering another factor at play here – Todd Boehly.
Having lost Christian Pulisic to AC Milan earlier this summer after a tumultuous spell at Stamford Bridge, Boehly lost a US superstar at the club who would have been incredibly intriguing to a growing soccer audience in his home country.
Boehly will want Chelsea interests front and centre of the soccer boom that’s currently in full flow in the US ahead of the 2026 World Cup, and bringing in another player who is crucial to the hopes of the USMNT is a smart way of doing that.
It won’t be the primary or even secondary reason that Chelsea will be looking to bring Adams in – his propensity to succeed on the pitch and be a part of this squad will supersede any other reasons, but it’s definitely worth bearing in mind.