Wesley Fofana: Chelsea sign 21-year-old French defender from Leicester City for £70m

Wesley Fofana

Chelsea have signed French centre-back Wesley Fofana from Leicester City on a seven-year deal for a fee in the region of £70m.

He was restricted to just seven league games during the 2021-22 campaign after breaking his leg in pre-season.

“The two last days have been really big for me and I’m very happy,” he said.

“I trained this morning with the team and it’s a dream for me. I’m very excited to start playing games for the fans and the club.

“I’m here to win trophies – the Champions League, Premier League, FA Cup, Carabao Cup, everything. I came here to win and the club is built to win trophies so I’m here to continue that.”

He is the third most expensive Premier League defender behind Manchester United’s £80m purchase of Harry Maguire in 2019 – also from Leicester – and Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk, who joined the Reds for £75m in 2017.

Fofana’s initial fee makes him the 12th most expensive Premier League signing, but he will drop to 13th when Manchester United complete the £81.3m signing of Antony.

The Fofana deal takes Premier League clubs’ record summer transfer window expenditure to almost £1.7bn going into Thursday’s deadline day – and that is set to rise even further. The previous record for summer spending had been the £1.43bn spent in 2017.

Chelsea chairman Todd Boehly – who has spent almost £250m in his first transfer window since buying the club from Roman Abramovich – said: “Wesley is a hugely promising defender who has already proven his quality in the Premier League at a young age.

“We are delighted we were able to bring one of Europe’s most exciting talents to Chelsea and further strengthen that area of our squad, both for this season and many more to come.”

Fofana was part of Brendan Rodgers’ starting XI as Leicester won the FA Cup for the first time in their history by beating Chelsea in the 2021 final.

“Gutted to lose him but wish Wesley Fofana well,” former Leicester striker Gary Lineker posted on social media.

“Every player wants to play Champions League football so it’s understandable.

“Chelsea fans, you’ve got the most prodigiously talented young central defender in the world. Yes, I believe he’s that good.”

This summer Chelsea have brought in England forward Raheem Sterling from Manchester City for £50m, Senegal defender Kalidou Koulibaly from Napoli for £34m, English midfielder Carney Chukwuemeka from Aston Villa for £20m, Spain left-back Marc Cucurella from Brighton for £60m and Italian midfielder Cesare Casadei from Inter Milan.

Thomas Tuchel’s side are eighth in the Premier League after Tuesday’s 2-1 defeat at Southampton, a second loss in their past three games.

Games 37
Clean sheets 7
Tackles 65
Tackle success % 71%
Interceptions 78
Clearances 120
Duels won 230
Duels lost 156

Analysis

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Alistair Magowan, BBC Sport

Once it was clear Fofana wanted to leave Leicester and Chelsea were willing to pay more than £60m for the 21-year-old, this transfer always looked likely.

It represents great business for the Foxes, who also sold Harry Maguire to Manchester United in 2019 for £80m, and comes at a good time for Chelsea after manager Thomas Tuchel bemoaned his side being too easy to play against in their defeat by Southampton on Tuesday night.

Fofana is already a talent in the Premier League and Chelsea will hope he only gets better with age, having awarded him an almost baseball-style contract of seven years. He will also learn from two experienced professionals in Thiago Silva and Kalidou Koulibaly alongside him.

But it will be a step-up for the young centre-back, who has completed one full season at Leicester during which they won the FA Cup, before breaking his leg before the start of last term.

Find all the latest football transfers on our dedicated page.

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