The 2022-23 Premier League season has been an unmitigated disaster for English giants Chelsea.
After ~£600m spent across two transfer windows, two managers sacked, and a host of figures in the senior squad that need to be jettisoned in order for the club to avoid FFP sanctions in the early days of Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali, the Blues are a mess.
But despite their questionable dealings, Chelsea’s new co-owners were publically vocal regarding their desire to take on the future of the club in a manner that was much more than just spending, with infrastructure improvements and plans regarding Stamford Bridge all on the table.
Much the same can be said for the goal of laying the groundwork for the Blues to take a page out of Manchester City’s playbook and establish a global multi-club network akin to City Group, with reports now pointing to the first brick-and-mortar being laid in the frame of an impending link to Ligue 1 club RC Strasbourg.
Few better nations offer the perfect cornerstone to such a network than France; a country that remains at the tip of the spear regarding player development. According to Jacon Steinberg’s report in The Guardian, Boehly intends to put the Blues into a position to “...show pathways for our young superstars to get on to the Chelsea pitch while getting them real game time.”
As such, Chelsea has been looking at a number of possible links in France, Belgium, Portugal, and South America, with previous talks with Girondins Bordeaux breaking down before Strasbourg has lept into the lead to be the first to sign on, with RCS club president Marc Keller keen after discussions with Chelsea, who have also considered Olympique Lyonnais and FC Sochaux-Montbéliard.
Keller’s ownership stake in Strasbourg sits at 27% and constitutes the largest piece of the pie, and though the Blues had wanted to find a club to gain 100% ownership of in a similar fashion to some of the entities in City Group’s portfolio, Keller’s ties to the club (where he was plied his trade as a key midfielder) are such that he wants their identity and culture to remain unique.
At the very least, even if the current season is one to forget, Chelsea’s broader plans may certainly come good in the future in a manner that allows them to move with the times across the modern game.