Chelsea have agreed a deal to sell Newcastle United the teenager Lewis Hall for an initial fee of around £28 million with the potential for it to go higher, just weeks after the club offered him a new six-year contract.
Telegraph Sport reported on Wednesday that Chelsea were now looking for a sale for the 18-year-old, who has played just 12 first team games, having originally indicated that they were prepared to loan him to a Premier League club this season for his development.
Hall now represents one of the club’s best hopes of earning transfer income as they seek to ensure they are compliant with spending rules. Under the new Todd Boehly-Clearlake Capital led consortium the club have spent more than £900 million in fees and broken the British transfer record in each of the previous windows.
Hall, already an England Under-21, and another fine prospect from the Cobham academy, joins Mason Mount in departing the club this summer, with a good chance that Conor Gallagher and Trevoh Chalobah will also leave.
Hall agreed a six-year contract at Chelsea with a year extra this summer that would have taken him to 2030. The original plan was to build his career there, but the club have now decided that the fee on offer was too good to turn down.
He was originally headed to Crystal Palace on loan for the season. Chelsea’s change of strategy came after the club found itself paying £115 million for Moises Caicedo from Brighton – breaking its own British record transfer fee. It was the second major change in the aftermath of that deal, with Chelsea also scrapping the move to sign Tyler Adams from Leeds United for around £20 million.
The player does face competition in the left-back position from England international Ben Chilwell, Marc Cucurella and fellow academy graduate Ian Maatsen, although his early development suggests he had the ability and the time to overhaul them all. Hall has played much of his junior football in central midfield. Newcastle have taken the opportunity to get one of the most highly-rated players of his English cohort.
The deal was overseen by Behdad Eghbali, the Clearlake co-founder and very much a hands-on presence in Chelsea’s bullish summer of recruitment. He and Boehly have established the strategy by which new signings are secured on extended seven and eight-year contracts which allows the club to amortise fees over a longer period thus reducing the accounting cost booked over the period of a single year.
While Uefa has moved to end that practice – the maximum period a fee can be amortised over is five years regardless of contract length – the Premier League is yet to do so. Chelsea will only have to comply with Premier League profit and sustainability rules this season – the club is not in any Uefa competitions.
There are also fresh fears over the fitness of Reece James, newly appointed the club captain and one of the few academy graduates still part of the first team future.
The 23-year-old has a hamstring injury, sustained against Liverpool on Sunday, which may rule him out for longer than had
first been expected.