The curious case of Robert Sanchez’s plummeting price tag… Brighton wanted £70m for the Spanish goalkeeper, so how did Chelsea bag him for £25m?
- Robert Sanchez was a rising star at Brighton but was dropped for Jason Steele
- He fell out with Roberto de Zerbi and was training with the U18s this summer
- Chelsea’s Ben Roberts has a strong relationship with the Spaniard from Brighton
At one stage, and not all that long ago, the asking price for Robert Sanchez was up to £70m he was so highly thought of at Brighton.
Even earlier this summer, a Chelsea enquiry was met with a request for £40m which, then, abruptly ended the discussion.
So, and with Brighton currently standing firm on their £100m valuation of Moises Caicedo, the reduced price Chelsea managed to secure Sanchez for can be considered a victory of sorts.
The final deal agreed was worth £25m. It was a price that attracted Bayern Munich too.
The German giants made a last-minute enquiry for Sanchez, checking in to see if his move to Chelsea was done and there was still a chance to hijack it.
Chelsea landed Robert Sanchez for £25m, despite Brighton originally wanting £70m. How?
Brighton demanded £40m for him even this summer and even Bayern Munich were keen
The deal was not done at that point but Sanchez’s heart was set on Chelsea and his switch and seven-year contract were confirmed on Saturday morning.
It was his fallout with Roberto De Zerbi that left his situation at Brighton unsustainable and contributed to the swift reduction in Sanchez’s valuation.
De Zerbi is a meticulous manager who coaches his players in minute detail, right down to their passing options in various situations.
The result of his methods has been there for all to see but, in some cases, can also remove a players’ freedom to make their own choices in the moment if they feel a situation is too high risk.
De Zerbi and Sanchez discussed but did not see eye-to-eye on the matter with the manager deciding that turning to Jason Steele was eventually the best solution.
That decision was initially supposed to be a kick up the backside for Sanchez but the former exceeded expectations to keep his place.
One of the key differences, Mail Sport were told, that made Steele a better fit for De Zerbi’s approach was one that could be simplified to being as small as a matter of seconds – the 32 year-old being more at ease pausing on the ball that little bit longer to invite opponents towards Brighton before they could then play around or through them.
Sanchez made successive starts in Brighton’s impressive league win at Chelsea and FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United a week later, which they only lost on penalties after a goalless draw, though neither were enough to see him regain his no.1 spot.
Just as frustrating for those familiar with the situation has been the perception of Sanchez.
He came in for criticism due to his body language and was unhappy to not be playing but suggestions he refused to train or sit on the bench in the final weeks of the season have been strongly countered.
Still, relations with De Zerbi deteriorated to the point that another first-team goalkeeper, Bart Verbruggen, was signed this summer and Sanchez was training with Brighton’s under-18s while the first team were away in America during pre-season.
The 25-year-old fell out with Brighton boss Roberto de Zerbi and lost his place in the team
De Zerbi favoured Jason Steele and Brighton have also signed Bart Verbruggen this summer
Sanchez had become Brighton’s No.1 after replacing Mat Ryan in similar circumstances – no obvious problem being apparent to the wider world but the manager, then Graham Potter, wanting a different goalkeeper who was better with his feet and showing the bravery to make the big call.
If there was any dip in Sanchez’s form last season it is considered no coincidence, following the departure of his mentor and goalkeeper coach Ben Roberts.
Roberts left Brighton for Chelsea in September along with Potter and now has an overseeing role at the top of the Londoners’ goalkeeping department so will be reunited with Sanchez.
The pair have got what is described as a father-son relationship with Roberts knowing exactly what makes Sanchez tick and which buttons to push to get the desired reaction.
Sanchez is said to have cried when Roberts left Brighton and told Mail Sport in 2021 how indebted he was to Roberts for the high-level coaching and also the tough love he received and needed.
After loan spells at Forest Green and Rochdale that did not go totally to plan, Roberts insisted on keeping Sanchez at Brighton rather than sending him out again.
Chelsea’s Ben Roberts, who knows Sanchez well from Brighton, was influential on the Spaniard
He worked on developing Sanchez physically and mentally and a few months later he had improved to the extent he had earned his Premier League breakthrough.
That the 6ft 5in Sanchez had the technical and physical qualities to be a top-flight goalkeeper was never in doubt.
What was less certain back then was his readiness mentally and where Roberts was really required.
Sanchez once told Mail Sport: ‘When you’re young you always think you’re better than the rest and that you can jump in and play.
‘But when you actually jump in and play you realise “there is not a chance that I could have been here two years ago.” Luckily I had Ben who has put me to the ground, given me that tough love and would say “you’re not ready at all. Stop dreaming.”’
Sanchez is said to have huge self-belief, as the above memory suggests, something that might have raised eyebrows and tested at times at Brighton but will surely be needed – maybe even welcomed – as he bids to prove himself at Chelsea and challenge Kepa Arrizabalaga, who is now ahead of him in the pecking order for both club and country.
Head coach Mauricio Pochettino has spoken to Sanchez at length and also received positive feedback about him being a potentially world class goalkeeper if managed the right way.
Mauricio Pochettino has spoken with Sanchez at length and has received reviews of him
Inter Milan got a similar response when they made their own enquires as they considered replacements for now Manchester United goalkeeper Andre Onana.
Alvaro Morata recommended Sanchez to Juventus while he was there after playing with him on international duty.
The tools and talent are clearly all there with Sanchez. What may also be required, along with Pochettino’s man-management, is a little patience as he waits for his opportunity at Stamford Bridge.
The sort of patience that paid off for Chelsea as they finally got their man.
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