Chelsea is seen as a bit of a parvenu among the European elites, with many considering that they don’t belong where they should be, from their self-anointed positions as puritans, keeping the traditions alive, in light of the iconoclastic, disdainful ways of modern football. But, Chelsea, in many ways, have been the necessary evil, prevalent in football today. The London club’s knack for being apologetic in their show of expedience in their methods, while once regarded crass and unethical, have been now, hypocritically, one must be remiss not to say, being owned by the most storied of clubs. Stockpiling, exorbitant agent pay-off that gets a deal over the line, stifling paperwork, accruing world record sponsorship deals, setting them and breaking them, accelerating official documentation, tapping up, and grandiose fees being thrown at players they need without flinching – all of these have become a part and parcel of the machinery of football, and Chelsea Football Club, unabashedly, have been in the forefront of such sweeping changes, on the sheer merit of their foresight. So, it is not surprising when reports come out today that the very same clubs has picked up a trick that most major clubs in Europe, while they ply the methods, have missed the obvious pay-off.
Feeder clubs, or more politely referred to as affiliated clubs, have long since been intertwined in the fabric of football. The most celebrated of which, has been a long-standing association between Barcelona CF and Ajax Amsterdam. The established principles date back to the early of the nineteen seventies, when footballing visionaries, Rinus Michels and Johan Cruyff landed up on the shores of Catalunya. Over the years, Marc Overmars, Patrick Kluivert, Frank de Boer, Ronald de Boer and Louis van Gaal were some of the esteemed beneficiaries.
Fast forward to today, Chelsea, as per their usual standards, have taken the affiliated club machination and turned it on its head and are in negotiations to pull off something quite unique. Modesto Roma, President of Santos’ visit to London and his resultant talks with Chelsea head honchos, has laid the groundwork for a partnership with one of the most precociously talent-turning footballing establishment in the world – Pele’s Santos.
The three-part plan would include an investment that sees an exhibition to be installed at Stamford Bridge, that would house a Santos-sanctioned Pele Museum, as to what UOL Esporte Brazil understands, would require Chelsea to procure a portion of Pele’s image rights in the process.
The second part, which is also and the cornerstone of this move – is an expressway, not in the literal sense, but a figurative one, that would see the cream of Brazilian talents heading over to Chelsea, who would have a first option to buy their most lucrative prospects. Santos have had a long-standing history of producing some of the finest talents to grace the Maracana, including, Pele, Toninho, Carlos Alberto, Robinho, Neymar, and most recently, the much-vaunted Gabigol.
The final aspect of the deal would see Santos garner resources, information, infrastructure from Chelsea to rebuild their now-defunct women’s football team. Chelsea’s successes in the matter of women’s football has reportedly piqued the interest of president Modesto.
All in all, more than just a fair cop, this deal could prove to be revolutionary, as more and more of the European elites will now look to build multi-faceted structured partnerships with highly-productive native clubs for their talents in exchange of resources and know-how, growing affinity and exposure in other, far away lands. But, yet again, Chelsea have been the example to follow, albeit, begrudgingly.