Chelsea star costing Todd Boehly £1.9m per minute may be blocked from repaying debt

Todd Boehly is yet to see a return on investment in Chelsea midfielder Romeo Lavia (Image: Getty)

Chelsea owners Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital are yet to see a return on their expensive midfield signing, Romeo Lavia. The Belgian missed the vast majority of the 2023/24 season through injury, but even when he returns to fitness, repaying the Blues’ eye-watering financial commitment may not be straightforward.

Formerly on the books at Manchester City, Lavia dazzled during a one-season spell at relegated Southampton, which encouraged Chelsea to part with £58million last summer. But a sequence of injuries have prevented the 20-year-old from getting out of first gear in west London.

Restricted to just 32 minutes across all competitions, Lavia’s mammoth transfer fee and reported £45,000-a-week wages mean he has set Chelsea back a whopping £1.9m for each minute he has played up to this point in his Blues career.

The midfielder is set to be back in time for next season, with manager Mauricio Pochettino expected to keep his job at Stamford Bridge after leading the team to an impressive sixth-place finish.

Romeo Lavia has played only 32 competitive minutes since signing for Chelsea (Image: Getty)

However, finding room in the Argentine’s starting XI could be a complicated task for Lavia. Enzo Fernandez, Moises Caicedo and Conor Gallagher have all featured in the youngster’s favoured holding midfield role this campaign.

And all three of them were among Pochettino’s most trusted squad members. Gallagher and Caicedo played more minutes in all competitions than any other Chelsea player, and Fernandez ended up sixth on the list.

While Lavia’s huge transfer fee may have led him to expect a regular starting role, Fernandez and Caicedo each cost significantly more at a combined £222m. Gallagher’s future could have a huge impact on Lavia’s route into the starting line-up.

The 24-year-old only has one year remaining on his contract and could be sold in an effort to balance the books this summer, but Pochettino has already made it clear that he holds the academy graduate in high esteem.

Lavia can only prove that Chelsea got their money’s worth and start repaying his debt if he nails down a place in the first team. Although the level of competition for midfield minutes means the odds are stacked against him, Blues winger Noni Madueke believes he has what it takes to make an impact.

“I’m really excited to watch Romeo play next season,” he said. “He’s got bags of ability and it’s been unfortunate for him this season being out for so long. But I remember when he played Southampton, he was outstanding. So [I’m] really excited to see him. He’s a top player and he just needs time.”