Bought for 85 million euros by Chelsea, Wesley Fofana this summer has become one of the most expensive central defenders in history. With the departure of Thomas Tuchel and his complicated return from his serious injury, the former Saint-Etienne has a lot of pressure on his shoulders.
Chelsea had a lot of rejections this summer (Koundé, Kimpembe, De Ligt) for the position of central defender. After losing Rudiger and Christensen, the Blues had to recruit and at the end of the transfer window they offered Leicester 85 million euros for Wesley Fofana, an amount that the Foxes could not refuse, even though they initially wanted more than 100 million euros, and which placing the France international ahead of Van Dijk (84 million euros) and just behind Maguire (87 million euros) and De Ligt (85.5 million euros):
“We are waiting to see how he comes back from his serious injury. Without that, I think the price of his transfer would have been even higher. It has become the norm these high transfers especially in England. If a 26-year-old Maguire was 87 worth millions of euros in 2019, it is not a scandal that a 21-year-old Fofana is worth 85, especially since Chelsea, with the arrival of the new owner, would send a strong signal to his supporters. In addition, the club needed a central defender with the departures there have been and given Thiago Silva’s age, this need also drives the price up, I’m not sure if it would have sold as much to City or Liverpool, who needed it less.” explains Matt Slater, journalist at The Athletic.
“If a 26-year-old Maguire was worth 87 million euros in 2019, it is not a scandal that a 21-year-old Fofana is worth 85.”
Leicester hit the jackpot when the English club bought him for 35 million euros from Saint-Etienne in 2020. He was then a rookie in the professional world, but was then considered with William Saliba as the club’s great hope. He left the club after a Coupe de France final lost to PSG (1-0). Arriving in England at just 19, he quickly established himself without needing an adjustment period.
It must be said that he has all the qualities of the very complete central (quick, physical, excellent from the head and he travels well) to succeed in the Premier League. He won his first trophy in his first year with the FA Cup and then the Community Shield at the start of the following season, before being seriously injured and seeing his progress cut short as he was not far from the France squad:
“He is very popular here. We quickly saw that he had huge potential, he didn’t need time to adapt to Leicester. He had an excellent 2020/2021 season and many were already saying at the time that he would be better than Harry Maguire who left for Manchester a year earlier. He broke his leg at the start of the following season, he came back at the end of the season, but he was less good. »
Fofana admired by the English
“ This is normal after a seven month absence, in addition the team was also less strong than the previous season when they won the FA Cup. He has a profile that is very popular in England, he is as clean in the rebound as he is good with his head, although it is a false legend to think that centre-backs need to be physical and good with their head to succeed in England, the championship game has changed a lot in recent years, especially with the massive arrival of foreign players. »
Wesley Fofana’s first games with Chelsea were criticized by the English press and supporters who let nothing pass. However, he is joined by two experienced defenders, Coulibaly and Thiago Silva.
But beyond the burden of the hefty price tag of his transfer, the Marseille native finds himself in a team that appears to have lost all its bearings, with a goalkeeper Edouard Mendy far from his former level and not longer has the coach Thomas Tuchel, who brought him in. Wesley Fofana will need to be very strong mentally to handle all this while returning to his best level after his serious injury.
He hasn’t recovered all his physical qualities yet, he won’t have much time to seduce England again, but he has the qualities to find his best level and justify his price.