When Chelsea sold a flurry of their young talent throughout the summer window of 2021 there was a downbeat mood amongst some supporters.
It felt like a return to the days before mass Cobham integration into the first-team and a more cynical view from the club of seeing youngsters as mere ways to attract profit in a challenging market, rather than selling unwanted senior players.
There is even some logic behind the argument that some of those sold could have proved useful to Thomas Tuchel throughout a challenging winter period where injury and COVID limited options for the German coach in an intensely congested schedule.
What always provided cover for these sales was the buyback options Marina Granovskaia inserted the deals to sell academy prospects.
Buybacks were included in the sales for Tammy Abraham and Tino Livramento, sold to Roma and Southampton respectively.
For Abraham, Chelsea have inserted a buy-back clause that allows them to re-sign the England international for £68m in 2023.
Livramento’s clause could be triggered at the same time for £50m, though as The Athletic reported back in September, he would actually cost Chelsea around £38 million as they are in line to receive a share of the profit from the player’s next move.
The question of Abraham’s return is a serious one, particularly if the current trend of him scoring for Roma improves whilst Chelsea’s attack stumbles.
But in the case of Livramento, the prospect of Chelsea trying to bring him back next year feels very viable, particularly as we approach this summer.
Ben Chilwell’s injury on the left side has limited Tuchel’s options and there is a belief Chelsea could go in for a new left-sided option in the summer to offer more suitable competition for Chilwell.
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Whilst on the right side, where Livramento currently plays, Recce James’ imminent return should lock that side down for the rest of this campaign.
Although Cesar Azpilicueta’s exit prompts questions over who would cover for James next season, the wait for Livramento in 2023 would be worth it.
Plus, the concept of Tuchel moving to a back four could allow another target, Jules Kounde, to cover for the England star at times of emergency.
There is also Dujon Sterling, currently on loan with Blackpool, who could provide a priceless solution for the time being, impressing in brief cameos over pre-season last year.
Livramento started his 20th Premier League game of the season on Friday night in Southampton’s 2-0 win over Norwich. The 18-year-old had another exciting display, providing a crucial pass in the buildup to Che Adams’ opening goal.
Despite not playing a minute of senior football before this season, Livramento quickly became Ralph Hasenhüttl’s first-choice right-back over more experienced options.
His growth has been rapid and given the consistent game-time, he is receiving at Southampton, by the time that clause becomes active a fee of around £38m might look like a steal.
Granovskaia’s new policy might not be the neatest or favourable in the long term but it gives the club a bit of an insurance policy over the coming years.
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