Bought 85 million euros by Chelsea, Wesley Fofana has become this summer one of the most expensive central defenders in history. With the departure of Thomas Tuchel and his complicated return following his serious injury, the former Saint-Etienne has a lot of pressure on his shoulders.
Chelsea suffered a lot of refusals 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, a sum that the Foxes could not refuse even if at the beginning they wanted more than 100 million euros and which places the French 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 will come back after 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 worth 87 million euros in 2019, it is not a scandal that a 21-year-old Fofana is worth 85 especially since with the arrival of the new owner Chelsea wanted to send a sign strong to his supporters. In addition, the club needed a central defender with the departures that there have been and given the age of Thiago Silva. This need drives up the price too, not sure if it would have been 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’s not a scandal that a 21-year-old Fofana is worth 85”
Leicester made the jackpot since the English club had bought him for 35 million euros from Saint-Etienne in 2020. He was then a beginner 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). Arrived in England at only 19 years old, he quickly established himself without needing a period of adaptation.
It must be said that he has all the qualities of the very complete central (fast, physical, excellent from the head and he raises 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 interrupted when he was not far from the team of France :
“He is very popular here. We quickly saw that he had enormous potential, he did not need time to adapt to Leicester. He had an excellent 2020/2021 season and many were already saying at the time that he would become better than Harry Maguire who left for Manchester for 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
“ It’s normal after a seven-month absence, in addition the team was also less strong than the previous season when it won the FA Cup. He has a profile that is very popular in England, he is as clean in the recovery as he is good with his head, even if it is a false legend to think that central defenders must be physical and good with his head to succeed in England, the championship game has changed a lot in recent years, particularly with the massive arrival of foreign players. »
Wesley Fofana’s first matches with Chelsea were criticized by the English press and supporters who let nothing pass. He is however alongside two experienced defenders, Coulibaly and Thiago Silva.
But, beyond the burden which is the high price of his transfer, the native of Marseilles finds himself in a team which seems to have lost all its bearings, with a goalkeeper Edouard Mendy far from his past level and who no longer has the coach Thomas Tuchel who brought him in. Wesley Fofana will have to be very strong mentally to manage all of this at the same time as returning to his best level after his serious injury.
He has not recovered all his physical qualities yet, he will not have much time to seduce England again, but he has the qualities to find his best level and justify his price.