Chelsea is a club in transition after a brutally disappointing 12th-place finish in the English Premier League this season. To fix this, the team is bringing in sought-after manager Mauricio Pochettino and going through a major roster shake-up, with multiple Chelsea transfers heading to Saudi Arabia for massive paydays.
The first big Chelsea to Saudi Arabia move is midfielder N’Golo Kante. The 32-year-old Frenchman is heading to Saudi Pro League champions, Al-Ittihad, where he’ll join his countryman, Karim Benzema.
Chelsea’s summer transfer window exits to Saudi Arabia don’t stop there, either. Three more players are now reportedly following Kante.
Center-back Kalidou Koulibaly (Al Hilal), goalkeeper Edou Mendy (Al Ahli), and winger Hakim Ziyech (Al Nassr with Cristiano Ronaldo) are all headed to the Middle East, with the first two reportedly each netting Chelsea €40 million transfer fees, and Ziyech going for around €60 million.
While this is a lot of talent to lose, these Saudi moves also help clear the Chelsea wage bill of players Pochettino no longer wants. And there are more rumors that several other Chelsea outcasts like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Callum Hudson-Odoi, and Romelu Lukaku could be on their way out of the Premier League and to Saudi Arabia as well.
These moves will help Chelsea get a massive makeover this summer, but it also raises questions about how they are going about it.
The club has spent £600 million on players since American owner Todd Boehly bought it in 2022. That puts Chelsea in a tenuous position when it comes to Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules. But these big transfer fees are helping them balance the books.
The issue here is that the top four Saudi clubs that these players are moving to were all recently bought (or at least invested in) by the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF), the group that owns Newcastle and was behind LIV Golf. So, whether purposefully or inadvertently, the PIF is helping Chelsea skirt FFP this summer.