UEFA Champions League final: How Chelsea built their roster through homegrown talent, signings and free agents

by John Smith

Chelsea are up against Manchester City in the UEFA Champions League final in Porto, Portugal, on Saturday (on CBS and Paramount+) for the opportunity to win their second title in their third appearance. Manager Thomas Tuchel arrived in January and has immediately steered the Blues to UCL qualification via the Premier League, the FA Cup final and this UCL final. The German has not even had time to made his own adjustments to the squad, having inherited his current group from former boss Frank Lampard instead — a squad assembled at high cost in no small part thanks to the deep pockets of owner Roman Abramovich.
Here is how Chelsea acquired their 23-man senior squad:
• Signings: 17
• Homegrown: 3
• Free: 3
Chelsea have mainly relied on spending big to build and strengthen their squad, but a few costly acquisitions have been balanced out by the emergence of three youth academy graduates of significant value and a small number of free-agent signings.
Here is our deeper look at how Chelsea built this current roster based on Transfermarkt valuations.
Signings
• Goalkeeper: Edouard Mendy – Signed for $26.4M (Now valued at $27.5M)
Considering the difference the Senegal international has made between the sticks since joining from group stage opponents Stade Rennais in France, this has been money well spent and Chelsea need him to be fit on Saturday if they are to succeed.
• Goalkeeper: Kepa Arrizabalaga – $88M ($14.3M)
An unmitigated disaster since his move from Athletic Club for a massive fee, his value has absolutely crashed since his arrival at Stamford Bridge. However, should he play instead of Mendy in Porto, a key role in a win could restore some of that lost value ahead of a potential sale.
• Defender: Kurt Zouma – $16.06M ($35.2M)
It has taken time to groom him into the player that he is today, but the France international is now an established figure in this Chelsea squad and is now worth more than double what he was bought for.
• Defender: Antonio Rudiger – $38.5M ($27.5M)
Although he is more involved under Tuchel, the Germany international’s time in London has not been entirely smooth and he was on the verge of being moved out before his compatriot arrived. Ironically, Tuchel could have saved him from his previous struggles while he was still PSG boss.
• Defender: Ben Chilwell – $55.2M ($55M)
Despite the substantial fee paid to FA Cup conquerors Leicester City, the England international has been a good addition overall and featured under Lampard as well as successor Tuchel.
• Defender: Marcos Alonso – $25.3M ($14.3M)
A useful figure early on under Tuchel, the Spain international is mainly a depth option now with Chilwell in the squad and Cesar Azpilicueta still as versatile as ever.
• Defender: Emerson – $22M ($13.2M)
One of the least-used members of the squad and does not see anywhere near enough game time to come close to justifying his price tag.
• Defender: Cesar Azpilicueta – $9.7M ($18.7M)
Now 31 and although the captain is not the force he has been in the past, he still provides good quality across multiple positions, possesses significant experience and is regularly involved — as reflected by his minutes on the pitch.
• Midfielder: Jorginho – $62.7M ($44M)
Chelsea’s top scorer so far this season and not even in double figures, the Brazil-born Italy international is in the top 11 for minutes played this campaign and is a survivor from Maurizio Sarri’s ill-fated spell with the club.
• Midfielder: N’Golo Kante – $39.4M ($60.5M)
The glue that holds Chelsea together, the 30-year-old France international remains one of the most important figures in this squad and that is reflected by the increase in his value on what was already a significant outlay.
• Midfielder: Mateo Kovacic – $49.5M (-)
Emerging as an influential figure under Tuchel and keen to play a key role in a Champions League success after peripheral roles in his Real Madrid triumphs, his value remains intact.
• Midfielder: Billy Gilmour – $649,000 ($7.7M)
Picked up for relatively little from Rangers, the Scottish talent’s value has grown massively as he has been exposed to first team football.
• Midfielder: Kai Havertz – $88M ($77M)
The Germany international has experienced a difficult first season in the Premier League after his big money move from Bayer 04 Leverkusen, though he has been much improved over the back half of the season under Tuchel.
• Midfielder: Hakim Ziyech – $44M (-)
Like Havertz, down the pecking order at present after his move from Ajax Amsterdam last summer, yet has provided marginally more in fewer minutes on the pitch.
• Attacker: Christian Pulisic – $70.4M ($55M)
The USMNT star is growing into Tuchel’s Chelsea and made key contributions over both legs against Real Madrid to get here, but it has so far been up and down overall in London for the 22-year-old who has struggled for fitness and regular starting role.
• Attacker: Timo Werner – $58.3M ($71.5M)
Another disappointing big money signing, the Germany international has not provided the firepower that he was expected to, although he will point to his roles in numerous goals scored this season and high minutes played.
• Olivier Giroud – $18.7M ($5.5M)
Coming towards the end of his time with Chelsea and used sparingly, the French World Cup winner is unlikely to see much action in Porto and will almost certainly depart for nothing this summer.
Homegrown
• Defender: Reece James – ($44M)
One of the most-used players this season, his versatility has made him an asset in numerous areas across the pitch and he often chips in with important assists.
• Midfielder: Mason Mount – ($66M)
Two of Chelsea’s top five for minutes played are youth academy products with Mount topping the pile and is joint-second top scorer with another homegrown talent in Tammy Abraham, the England international has been one of the best players this season.
• Attacker: Tammy Abraham – ($44M)
Out of favor under Tuchel and possibly moving on this summer, the Englishman is still just one goal behind top scorer Jorginho despite his low number of minutes played.
Free
• Goalkeeper: Willy Caballero – Free ($330,000)
As peripheral as they come, it will take a lot for him to get near the pitch this weekend and he will depart after this game. Though if Mendy can’t start, he’d be one step closer to an unlikely emergency role
• Defender: Andreas Christensen – Free ($33M)
Valuable squad option who has stepped in at various moments to play a reliable role under both Tuchel and Lampard.
• Defender: Thiago Silva – Free ($3.8M)
An important boost in experience, the aging Brazilian still possesses plenty of technical quality and is one of the most senior figures under Tuchel — as was the case when both of them were in Paris together.
Total Value
Spend: $712.75M
Value: $669,9M (same players only)
$861M ($191.1M from 3 HG & 3 FREE)

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