From Arsenal rejection to British record transfer – Inside Moises Caicedo’s saga as he nears £115million move to Chelsea

Brighton owner Tony Bloom made his fortune as a gambler.

But the professional punter known as ‘The Lizard’ has just come out on top in the biggest game of poker he has ever played.

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Brighton midfielder Caicedo is set to join Chelsea for a British record feeCredit: Getty
The Blues have reached a £115m agreement with the Seagulls for the Ecuador international

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The Blues have reached a £115m agreement with the Seagulls for the Ecuador internationalCredit: Getty

When Bloom rejected two big-money offers from Arsenal for Moises Caicedo in January, it was because he foresaw the Ecuadorian would command an even heftier fee and be sought after by more clubs in the summer transfer window.

That is why Brighton were so quick to tie Caicedo down to a new long-term contract, and, crucially, one without any release clause.

Seven months later and Bloom’s prediction has come true with Brighton agreeing a British record fee not once but twice in the space of only three days.

Chelsea’s £115m package means the Seagulls have made a profit on the 21-year-old of almost £2.5m per Premier League appearance.

They had only paid just £4.5m to prise him away from his homeland just two years ago.

Not that Brighton were desperate to sell, in fact manager Roberto De Zerbi did his best to persuade Caicedo to stay for one more year and be a part of the club’s first ever European tour.

Despite Caicedo clearing out his locker at the training ground over a week ago and hauling up in London with his advisers, there was never any possibility of Brighton being bullied into lowering their asking price.

However once Caicedo had made it crystal clear he wanted out – and that Stamford Bridge was his dream destination – Bloom’s priority in conjunction with trusted chief executive Paul Barber became to secure his full valuation.

Brighton chairman Bloom refused to budge on his valuation of Caicedo

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Brighton chairman Bloom refused to budge on his valuation of CaicedoCredit: AFP
The Seagulls only paid £4.5m to sign him in 2021

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The Seagulls only paid £4.5m to sign him in 2021Credit: Getty

The Seagulls hierarchy had seen Arsenal pay £105m for Declan Rice and decided Caicedo was worth even more than the England international, based partly on the analytical data Bloom has used so successfully to scout players.

Bloom would have happily sold to Liverpool and talkSPORT understands Brighton were impressed with how professionally and confidentially Jurgen Klopp’s side conducted negotiations before a £111m deal was agreed in the early hours of Friday morning.

Chelsea owner Todd Boehly did not see that coming, but all the Reds really achieved was to drive up the Blues’ offer, with Brighton banking a bigger up-front payment than they would have if Caicedo had ended up at Anfield. 

The Sussex side are also satisfied that the add-ons in Chelsea’s deal are easily achievable with two thirds appearance-related and the other third dependent on European qualification.

While they have committed to paying more than they planned, Chelsea are also content they have the perfect midfield partner for previous record signing Enzo Fernandez, who produced a man-of-the-match display in Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Liverpool.

Caicedo has always been new manager Mauricio Pochettino’s priority target, which is why American Boehly and co-owner Behdad Eghbali personally took over the negotiations to ensure the deal went through.

Discussions between Eghbali and Barber took place even during Brighton’s 4-1 demolition of newly-promoted Luton on Saturday and throughout Sunday before eventually being signed off at around 10pm on Sunday night.

Caicedo will undergo a medical later on Monday before signing an eight-year contract with an extra 12-month option and is set to make his Chelsea debut at West Ham next Sunday.

Caicedo could be in line to make his Chelsea debut against West Ham next Sunday

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Caicedo could be in line to make his Chelsea debut against West Ham next SundayCredit: Getty

As for Liverpool, there will be questions about why they went as far as agreeing to pay £111m for a player who seemingly had no burning desire to join.

It may also cost them in the race to sign another priority target, Romeo Lavia, despite reaching a £60m agreement with Southampton.

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Chelsea are also keen on the teenager, with the player to now decide who he wishes to join.

So, Chelsea can claim victory in the most intriguing saga of many a transfer window, but in reality, Bloom and Brighton are the real winners.

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