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Kepa, Jorginho, Higuain – How Chelsea’s 2018/19 signings have fared for the Blues this season

With January now a distant memory we’ve had our first two transfer windows under Maurizio Sarri at Chelsea and have a taste as to how those signings have done so far.

It will probably be the only chance we get to see how the Italian works in the transfer marker for a while too as the Blues face a two-window long transfer ban from Fifa.

Despite it being his first windows, no expense was paid as Chelsea parted with around £50million to secure Jorginho from Napoli and then a world-record fee for a goalkeeper to to purchase Kepa Arrizabalaga from Athletic Bilbao for £72m.

The spending carried on in January when the Blues signed Christian Pulisic from Borussia Dortmund for £57.6m before loaning him back to the German outfit, while Sarri went back for a familiar face when he loaned Gonzalo Higuain from Juventus with an option to buy him permanently for £31.3m.

 

Big money is nothing new to Chelsea, but with big fees come big expectations from fans for players to hit the ground running.

Have the signings this season done that? We’ve taken a look and rated how each of the new boys have done since their arrivals at Stamford Bridge and whether they’ve made the desired effect just yet.

Summer 2018

Kepa Arrizabalaga – B

Kepa arrived to replace Thibaut Courtois after he left to sign for Real Madrid late in the window, and securing his replacement cost Chelsea a pretty penny.

Liverpool had made Alisson the most expensive keeper just weeks earlier but Chelsea trumped it, shelling out £72m for Kepa to be in between the sticks at Stamford Bridge this season.

Kepa Arrizabalaga claps the fans after Chelsea’s win at Fulham (Photo by Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty Images)

He’s done fairly well since – he’s made 42 appearances in all competitions for Sarri and kept 20 clean sheets for the side, while the 33 Chelsea have conceded is the fourth lowest amount in the Premier League this season.

Kepa is some way behind the top two keepers in the league, Alisson and Ederson, but he could well stake his claim to be the third-best keeper in the top flight.

But he hasn’t been without controversy this season.


The Carabao Cup final saw Kepa ignore orders from Sarri to be substituted in the final minutes of extra time, with the pair afterwards citing it as a ‘misunderstanding’, although the Spaniard’s dropping the next game seems to suggest it was more than that.

All in all Kepa has done reasonably well since his arrival, but for that kind of money, you would think there is more to come from the young man.

Jorginho – C

Ah, Jorginho.

The posterboy for Sarri-ball after his arrival from Napoli in the summer, after a storming start to life in Stamford Bridge it hasn’t been the best few months for the Italian.

 

His passing stats during the 18-game unbeaten run were off the chart and as the pin in the three man midfield, he was pulling the strings wherever Chelsea went.

Then came Tottenham Hotspur, who marked him out of the game and things haven’t been quite the same since.

Fans are now asking what does Jorginho really do in the Chelsea side in between booing him coming on as a substitute and jeering him when he comes off.

With Sarri-ball not hitting the heights people hoped it would when Sarri first took the job, Jorginho has become the target man for frustrations such is his closeness to the style of play.

Jorginho during the draw with Wolves (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

It’s not entirely his fault – he does have a key role to play in the side and for the most he does that very well, but his lack of assists and goals are a concern for some fans.

Personally, I think it’s been an average start to life for Jorginho – a stunning start followed by a less than ideal second part to the season, but as Chelsea start to adapt to Sarri-ball over the next season he will start to get better.

Mateo Kovacic (loan) – C-

If fans aren’t able to figure out what Jorginho really does in the Chelsea team, then they certainly haven’t got a clue what Mateo Kovacic does in the midfield at Stamford Bridge.

Kovacic signed on loan from Real Madrid in the summer a Sarri looked for a man to fill the Marek Hamsik role in his three man midfield, but despite appearing 40 times in a blue shirt this season he hasn’t quite added what he was meant to.


He’s not scored a single goal for Chelsea so far and went through a period of being either subbed off or subbed on for Ross Barkley, a favourite move of Sarri’s that never really achieved anything.

In fact, in the last couple of months Kovacic’s game time has slowly decreased, with Sarri favouring Barkley and Ruben Loftus-Cheek in that role instead.

Kovacic hasn’t really been the success story that Sarri was hoping for, and with his loan spell up at the end of the month it’s not looking likely he will be remembered for years to come in west London.

Rob Green – F

Erm, well, what do I say about Green?

He hasn’t played since signing a one-year deal in the summer, mainly because he’s third choice and in the squad to fill the homegrown rota.

One the next one, I guess?

 

January 2019

Gonzalo Higuain (loan) – D

Having arrived on loan in January to try and solve Chelsea’s striker problems, he’s only managed to score three goals against two teams that look like they’ll be playing in the Championship next season.

Sarri would’ve expected more from the striker that he turned into one of the most lethal players in Europe during their time together at Napoli, as will the fans.

Too much reliance is still placed on Eden Hazard, who has popped up with 16 goals this season and the three that Higuain has provided just hasn’t been good enough and are certainly not worth paying £30m odd for at the end of his loan.

Gonzalo Higuain scores against Fulham (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

He has three months to change the opinion around Stamford Bridge on him and to start scoring the goals that he was signed to do, otherwise it will look like another poor signing for the Blues.

There’s perhaps even more resting on Higuain’s shoulders with the two-window transfer ban looming over Chelsea to start hitting the back of the net as he is the only striker they can sign permanently as a result of their loan agreement with Juventus.

Christian Pulisic – N/A

Clearly we can’t give a mark to the American having been sent back out on loan to Dortmund after signing, but with a big price tag next season will be interesting indeed.

 

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