On Friday Chelsea officially signed Cesare Casadei from Inter Milan. The London club agreed to a fee with Inter Milan for the Italian young talent for €15 million plus another €5 million of add-ons. It's a relatively modes sum, but then again, Casadei is a 19-year-old midfielder who hasn't played a single minute of senior level football yet.
Chelsea are clearly entering a new era this summer with American businessman Todd Boehly at the helm. Since he took charge of the club in late May, he's started to renovate the roster with new signings. And, while his pursuit of top-level stars like Raheem Sterling has garnered all the attention, alongside the big signings, the English side has also focused on finding young players, starting from American goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina, born in 2004, who will stay on loan at Chicago Fire until the end of the season. Chelsea also signed 18 year-old midfielder Omari Hutchinson from Arsenal and Carney Chukwuemeka (2003) from Aston Villa for around €20 million.
The Casadei move is perhaps the most surprising of them all given that the player still hasn't made his first team debut with the Italian club. So the question is, why did Chelsea invest so much money in this young player?
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Who is Cesare Casadei?
Casadei was born in Ravenna in 2003 and began his youth career as a soccer player in Cesena. Inter Milan discovered the talented youngster quickly and signed him in 2018, when Cesena went bankrupt, signed him when he was only 15. He has been a consistent performer and strong developer in the youth ranks, peaking last season when he won the Under-23 Scudetto with the team coached by former Inter defender Christian Chivu.
Casadei was the man of the match in the final against AS Roma, a game which highlighted his as one of the most interesting Italian talents right now. Inter Milan first team coach Simone Inzaghi decided to include him in the pre-season tour and while he has yet to make his debut, last year he was also part of the first team late in the season without making any appearances. Casadei can play in multiple positions in midfield. He can play as a playmaker, as a number ten and with Chivu he played in the left part of a three-men midfield. It will be now up to Chelsea's coach to find him the right place on the pitch, but the player has all the talent needed to succeed an become an influential player as Chelsea look to their long-term future.
Why did Inter Milan sell Casadei?
Inter Milan are making this move purely for financial reasons. The Italian club had bee planning to sell Milan Skriniar to Paris Saint-Germain but when that move fell apart, it left Inter looking for other ways to raise cash. Te Nerazzurri sold Andrea Pinamonti to Sassuolo for €20 million and now Casadei to Chelsea for a very similar price which means they found the money they were looking for, but that the cost of sacrificing two important Italian prospects for the future. In some ways, Casadei's transfer is similar to that of Nicolò Zaniolo, who was included in the deal that brought Radja Nainggolan to Inter Milan from AS Roma. The price of Zaniolo was around €4 million at the time, so while Casadei's is already significantly higher, both of them were youth prospects who hadn't yet played with the first team of Inter Milan before being sold. Part of the reason for the relatively large price tag is that OG Nice and Sassuolo were also interested in signing Casadei, but Chelsea's bid won the race and it's also possible that this deal could also have an impact next year when the two sides will have to sit down and talk about the future of Romelu Lukaku. He's currently at Inter Milan on loan from Chelsea until the end of the year but it's an arrangement everybody will likely want to make permanent somehow.
Chelsea's quiet youth movement
For Chelsea, Casadei is just another stem in their youth movement. They've signed big names this summer like Kalidou Koulibaly from Napoli (31), Raheem Sterling (27) from Manchester City and Marc Cucurella (24) from Brighton, but those names have overshadowed the other half of a two-pronged approach. The signings of Slonina, Hutchinson, Chukwuemeka and Casadei are intended to build for the future. These players might not play immediately with the club, but Chelsea are considering them as key players for the future and trust them a lot. Todd Boehly's plan is clear; work for today but plan for tomorrow.