COMMENT: So much for those stories of disinterest. Boredom. Roman Abramovich has put paid to that - literally - in the last 24 hours...
The Hakim Ziyech deal should've stopped that talk of Abramovich and Chelsea parting ways dead in its tracks. 40 million quid for the Ajax midfielder more than enough evidence of the Russian's commitment.
But now he's gone a step further. Or better yet, made a giant leap. £55m for Timo Werner. £180,000-a-week over five years to the Red Bull Leipzig striker. In the process embarrassing Jurgen Klopp and his paymasters at Liverpool. Celebrate it, Blues fans. After the transfer ban of last year and January's withdrawal from the market battle, Abramovich and Chelsea are back with a bang.
A 'new normal'? Give us a break. As this column mentioned on Sunday, the market will be dictated by whose available and what those interested are willing to pay. Abramovich's willingness to meet the £55m buyout clause in Werner's contract coming not 48 hours after PSG triggered Mauro Icardi's £53m option in his loan deal to take him permanently from Inter Milan. Actions that Leipzig are now likely to follow, using the Werner cash to fund an outright transfer for their on-loan Roma striker Patrik Schick. The summer market is well and truly up and running...
In Germany, across multiple sources, they say it's a done deal. All day Thursday - and running into the evening - Karlheinz Forster, Werner's agent, thrashed out terms with Chelsea's managing director, Marina Granovskaia. Forster stepping up negotiations this week as it became apparent that Liverpool would not consider meeting Werner's clause. A surprise? Perhaps. But even after a quiet last summer and January, this is the same Liverpool that attempted to furlough it's staff. In contrast, Chelsea did no such thing and also refused to go down the redundancy track. And this just weeks after committing millions to take Ziyech off Ajax's hands. Something doesn't quite sit right on Merseyside...
But in the meantime. At least last night. Agreement between Forster and Granovskaia was eventually found over a €200,000-a-week deal - again, what happened to that mooted 'collapse' of wages at the elite level?
There's still ten days to beat the deadline before Werner's clause is raised, but Chelsea will deposit the money required early next week. Potentially, an announcement could be made before the Premier League's restart.
So how did they do it? After all the back and forth between Werner, Klopp and Liverpool - just how did Chelsea manage to trump the champions-elect? Well, you can trace the groundwork being laid as far back as Christmas. And while it might take a little time, we'll also surely see the influence of Frank Lampard emerge once the ink is dry on those service contracts.
Ziyech, in the aftermath of his Chelsea move being rubberstamped, admitted it was the charm offensive launched by Lampard which was key to his choice: "We had a lot of contact in the last couple of weeks and he gave me a good feeling and that was also big to do with the decision."
You can bet we'll get the same from Werner once everyone is free and clear to talk. Just as he did with Ziyech, Lampard will have pulled off the same with the Germany striker. And all amid claims that Werner was prepared to wait a year for Klopp and Liverpool to get serious.
But was he? Particularly when as Liverpool dithered, he had Lampard talking about his plans for him and how much he could bring to his Chelsea team? Just weeks ago, Werner gave us a precursor to why he's performed this apparent about-face.
"The mutual appreciation (between player and club) should be there to the maximum," he stated. "That's why I chose RB Leipzig at the time, and because of that, I would choose a club again in my next step, where I'd get this same feeling conveyed."
Where Liverpool stepped back, hoping Werner would wait, Lampard made it clear to the 24 year-old he was wanted - and wanted now.
And further smoothing these negotiations were Chelsea's actions over the New Year. By all rights, Ethan Ampadu's loan with RBL has been a flop. This column would even argue a backward step for the young Welshman. But Chelsea and Lampard played it cool. Calm. Where other managers would've gone public with frustration over the treatment of their player, Chelsea encouraged Ampadu to see out his season commitment. And with that, positive relations between the two clubs was maintained. There won't be any backlash from Leipzig over this deal, the future opportunities between the two clubs are too great for that.
This is a coup. As much for the Premier League as it is for Chelsea. Arguably the best young player from the Bundesliga to join the best from the Eredivisie at Stamford Bridge. And we still don't have a date for when the window officially swings open...
Abramovich is delighted. And contrary to what you'd read, he's been like that for a while. The newly forged profile. The new reputation of his Chelsea under Lampard bringing a fresh excitement to the Russian's involvement.
The ambition - the imagination - of this Werner deal is proof of that. Abramovich and Chelsea are back with a bang.