Chelsea were handed a jarring reality check with defeat to Liverpool last weekend.
The Blues are being viewed by many as potential Premier League title challengers after spending more than £200 million this summer, but they still came unstuck against the reigning champions.
Nevertheless, said defeat aside, there’s still great cause for optimism around Stamford Bridge right now, especially considering Frank Lampard could still add to his transfer activity.
Chelsea’s summer spending
It’s widely touted that Declan Rice and at the very least Edouard Mendy will be joining the likes of Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech, Ben Chilwell and Thiago Silva with a move to west London.
However, one of the potential risks of a summer splurge on this remarkable scale that is so often ignored is the impact on a club’s wage structure and what that can mean for existing players.
Changes to the wage structure
In fact, we’ve decided to scrutinise the pay-packets by ranking the squad from ‘very underpaid’ to ‘very overpaid’ to reflect a hypothetical world where players were paid fairly on their form.
What we mean by that is, putting a player earning £100,000-a-week in ‘underpaid’ doesn’t mean we think footballers are being hard done by, rather that their wage in relation to their teammates is ill-fitting of their relative importance to the squad.
The opposite can be said of players who wind up in ‘overpaid’… it’s not some iron-fisted inditement of them as a professional because, frankly, well played to them for reaching this level.
Ranking the Chelsea squad wages
But anyhow, disclaimers aside, check out we organised Chelsea‘s wage structure for the 2020/21 season down below:
Tammy Abraham – £57,692-a-week
Kurt Zouma – £40,000-a-week
Fikayo Tomori – £14,423-a-week
Say what you like about Abraham’s capabilities as Chelsea’s leading man, but there’s no denying that your club’s incumbent top-scorer being the club’s 25 highest-earner makes no sense at all.
Zouma could also be forgiven for thinking he’s owed a few more coppers after turning out 43 times throughout 2019/20 and entering the new campaign with two league starts and a goal.
As for Tomori, don’t be surprised if the youngster secures a loan move this summer, but £14,000-a-week seems incredibly low for a player who made 22 appearances last season regardless.
N’Golo Kante – £144,231-a-week
Hakim Ziyech – £100,000-a-week
Mateo Kovacic – £100,000-a-week
Mason Mount – £88,462-a-week
Willy Caballero – £35,000-a-week
Look, Kante won’t be complaining about his handsome earnings for one second, but we don’t think we’re alone in thinking he should be much higher than Chelsea’s sixth highest-paid star.
It’s also pretty surprising to see that Ziyech barely scrapes into six figures, although it goes without saying that we can’t judge too much until the Moroccan makes his bow in England.
Meanwhile, Kovacic deserves more as one of the Premier League’s most underrated players and Mount’s breakthrough season warranted more than 16th place in the wage rankings.
In terms of Caballero, it might not seem like a stingy wage for a number two goalkeeper, but it is pretty brutal when you bear in mind that he’s essentially more reliable than the number one…
Timo Werner – £170,000-a-week
Christian Pulisic – £158,654-a-week
Cesar Azpilicueta – £145,000-a-week
Kai Havertz – £140,000-a-week
Jorginho – £110,000-a-week
Thiago Silva – £110,000-a-week
Reece James – £100,000-a-week
Antonio Rudiger – £100,000-a-week
Ross Barkley – £96,154-a-week
Andreas Christensen – £80,000-a-week
Emerson Palmieri – £75,000-a-week
Ruben Loftus-Cheek – £60,000-a-week
Even before scoring, Werner has looked like a class act and making him one of the richest players at the club seems about right on the back of competing for the European Golden Shoe.
Pulisic and Azpilicueta also warrant their places as two of the biggest earners at the club, establishing themselves as absolutely invaluable to the Blues at either end of the pitch.
Let’s not beat around the bush, Havertz has looked distinctly average in his first two games, but being the seventh highest earner is pretty fair for one of the world’s most exciting young stars.
In terms of the rest of this category, well, there’s just not too much to complain about and it should come as no surprise that an entity like Chelsea has largely gotten their pay structure spot on.
Olivier Giroud – £110,000-a-week
Callum Hudson-Odoi – £120,000-a-week
Marcos Alonso – £100,000-a-week
Victor Moses – £75,000-a-week
Davide Zappacosta – £70,000-a-week
Billy Gilmour – £43,269-a-week
In the interest of transparency, we’ll happily admit that Giroud was a borderline call and our only real qualm is that almost earning double than Abraham doesn’t really represent his place in the striker hierarchy.
Meanwhile, it’s pretty staggering to think that only seven Chelsea players pocket more than Hudson-Odoi, which hardly represents his contribution after a pretty nondescript 2019/20.
Alonso winding up in six figures also seems a little strong for his tumultuous form, especially now that Ben Chilwell has arrived, while Moses and Zappacosta’s selections speak for themselves.
As far as Gilmour is concerned, we’re not denying that he’s a top, top talent, but earning more than Zouma, Caballero and Tomori seems pretty premature after just two Premier League starts.
Ben Chilwell – £190,000-a-week
Kepa Arrizabalaga – £150,000-a-week
Tiemoue Bakayoko – £110,000-a-week
Danny Drinkwater – £100,000-a-week
Is this brutal on Chilwell? At another club, £190,000-a-week might not look too insane, sure, but I challenge a single Chelsea fan to justify why he should be the Blues’ highest earner.
And while making your world-record goalkeeper the fourth best-paid player at your club might not seem stupid, Arrizabalaga’s woeful form over the last 18 months explains this selection for me.
As for Bakayoko and Drinkwater, we’re pretty sure Chelsea fans want them out the exit as soon as possible, so they certainly shouldn’t be earning more than Ziyech and Mount respectively.
How would you change the structure?
So, imagine for one second that you’re Roman Abramovich and all of Chelsea’s wages were pooled into one big pot, how would you redistribute the cash?
At the very least, I feel pretty sure that Chelsea fans would give Arrizabalaga a significant pay cut and would be tripping over themselves to get the likes of Bakayoko and Drinkwater out the back door.
But hey, whether we think a player is ‘underpaid’ or ‘overpaid’, we’re not going to deny that the idea of pocketing £40,000-a-week is an exciting one even if we were the team’s star player.
And in a time where job security and people’s livelihoods seem at greater risk than ever, I’m sure none of the professionals listed above will be splitting hairs about the wage structure either.
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