Chelsea’s Achraf Hakimi transfer hitch teases problem that may block Erling Haaland move
Achraf Hakimi is inching closer to a move to Paris Saint-Germain with Chelsea having missed out, Inter Milan CEO Giuseppe Marotta saying a switch is in the “final stages”. The Moroccan international emerged as a target for Chelsea with Thomas Tuchel keen to strengthen on the right side and with Reece James having proven his ability as a right-sided centre-back in a back three. But new reports suggest big agent fees and wages stopped the Blues from recruiting the Inter wing-back.
PSG are expected to wrap up a £60million deal for the 22-year-old this week. Among the problems that prevented a move to Stamford Bridge for Hakimi, per the Telegraph’s Matt Law on the London is Blue podcast, the fee demanded by the player’s agent and the wages he wanted.
While the Roman Abramovich-owned Londoners are cash rich, they were reluctant to meet the African’s demands given he is not a priority target, even though he was undoubtedly a player Tuchel would have liked to have in his squad.
Chelsea do not like paying out huge fees to agents in particular, Law stated, with PSG more inclined to accept the requests to bolster Mauricio Pochettino’s squad.
Between February 2020 and February 2021, Chelsea were actually the biggest spenders in the Premier League when it came to paying out to agents, with a £35m outlay.
Yet that can be explained by the sheer volume of their business last summer. Thiago Silva and Malang Sarr arrived on free deals while Timo Werner, Kai Havertz, Hakim Ziyech, Ben Chilwell and Edouard Mendy were all recruited for sizeable transfer fees.
With fewer deals expected this summer, Chelsea’s spend will drop considerably – and their reluctance to give in to the demands of agents could be a problem if Chelsea harbour real ambitions of bringing Haaland to the club before August 31.
Earlier this year, Haaland’s team – his father Alf-Inge and agent Mino Raiola – travelled to Spain to hold meetings with Real Madrid and Barcelona and it didn’t take long for the eye-watering demands apparently being made by the duo to emerge.
It was claimed that they wanted £17.1m (€20m) each for facilitating a move. Not just that though, the Norway striker is said to want to be paid £25.7m (€30m) a year in wages – after tax.
That would make him among the world’s highest-paid players. By contrast, Manchester United’s top earner David de Gea – one of the highest-paid players in the Premier League – earns £350,000 a week which works out at around £18m a year.
If those reported fees are true, Chelsea could be looking at a total financial commitment of at least £315m if Borussia Dortmund demand a transfer fee of at least £150m as expected and Haaland’s wages and agent fees are paid in full.
While Chelsea are clearly interested in Haaland, there are undoubtedly cheaper options out there who could still be devastating leading the Blues’ front-line, namely Inter Milan’s Romelu Lukaku, the former Blues frontman.
Tottenham’s Harry Kane is also liked by Chelsea chiefs and while neither he or Lukaku will be cheap, the additional payments due would make any package to land Haaland significantly more expensive.
Chelsea need a striker now but if Haaland is the one they decide they want over anyone, the requested agent fees could mean a deal makes greater financial sense in 2022.
Then, a release clause becomes active which means the Scandinavian centre-forward can be signed for £64m. That would help offset the soaring agent fees involved to broker an agreement.
Ultimately, it will come down to how eager Chelsea are to land Haaland, and whether they are willing to wait 12 months for him or whether they are willing to look at a cheaper alternative such as Lukaku, Kane or another striker.
Jadon Sancho’s imminent move to Manchester United means Bundesliga giants Dortmund are doubly as eager not to lose star striker Haaland this summer, so if Chelsea really want Haaland, they will have to sacrifice an enormous amount of finances.
The fact they didn’t want to pay the fees to sign Hakimi hints they won’t be all that keen to do so with Haaland, even though they have a clear need for a 30-goal-a-season striker to challenge for the Premier League title next term.
If they are settled on signing Haaland, however, then Chelsea will likely have to accept they will top the Premier League agent fees spent chart for a second successive summer. Doing so will require more than a few sales to balance the books.