Martin Keown believes Chelsea’s swoop for Brighton defender Marc Cucurella is a ‘panic buy’ on the eve of the new Premier League season.
Cucurella put pen to paper on a six-year contract at Stamford Bridge on Friday, in a deal understood to be worth £60million.
Manchester City led the chase for the left-back but were unwilling to meet Brighton’s valuation of in excess of £50million, with their last bid coming in at around £40m.
But City’s loss is Chelsea’s gain and the Blues agreed a deal to make Cucurella the seventh most expensive defender of all time despite only costing the Seagulls £15m a year ago.
The deal represents a record transfer fee for Brighton, whilst Cucurella becomes Chelsea’s fourth most expensive signing behind Romelu Lukaku, Kai Havertz and Kepa Arrizabalaga.
If the transfer fee rises to above £60million with bonuses or add-ons, it would also make Cucurella the most expensive full-back in football history – with the current record set by Man City’s £60m deal for Joao Cancelo.
And Martin Keown sees the acquisition as a panic buy by the Blues, insisting there are ‘better players out there’ for the same money.
“Chelsea have gone out and paid £60-odd million for Cucurella – I think that’s nonsensical,” the Arsenal legend told White and Jordan.
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“It’s an incredible amount of money. I think it’s too much. Cucurella, as good as he is, I think there are still players out there that are better.
“To pay that kind of money with Ben Chilwell still there, [Marcos] Alonso’s still there. It does feel like it’s panic buying.”
Chelsea have endured a topsy-turvy pre-season carried over from a difficult final few months of last season’s campaign.
Thomas Tuchel’s men have made their defence a priority following the departures of Andreas Cristensen and Antonio Rudiger and, despite the additions of Raheem Sterling and Kalidou Koulibaly, Keown feels Chelsea could have a battle on their hands to finish in the top four again this season.
“If you look at last season, if I had to say of the top four teams, if there’s one that could slide out of the top four, it could be Chelsea,” said the former centre-back.
“Thomas Tuchel is an outstanding manager but all of his support team around him have disappeared. So there’s a bit of change there.
“The new owner’s come in and he wants to make a difference. On the eve of the new season he’s making a statement with that kind of signing. Is it overspending? I think maybe it is.”
Chelsea have also been linked with a move for Barcelona’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang following Romelu Lukaku’s loan switch to Inter Milan, and Keown believes the former Arsenal striker would be a good fit at Stamford Bridge.
He said: “Aubameyang would be an interesting signing to come in. He scored a rake of goals for Barcelona. That would be good business.
“They are under pressure. Looking at the emergence of Tottenham, Arsenal going perhaps too well in pre-season, Chelsea are under a little bit of pressure right now.”
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