Red Bull model as inspiration & exclusive youth focus: How Chelsea and BlueCo have influenced the direction of Strasbourg

In June of this year, Racing Club de Strasbourg Alsace was bought by BlueCo, the consortium led by billionaire owners of Chelsea FC Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali, to kickstart a new era for the French team. 

It was a purchase that was marked by unease from the supporters as it would bring Les Alsaciens within a newly established multi-club project heralded by its flagship Chelsea. However, seemingly very little looked different for Strasbourg, as the previous owner, Marc Keller was kept on as the club President, to create a sense of stability during the handover of power. 

The biggest immediate impact was Keller’s announcement that BlueCo had invested major financial efforts to renovate the Meinau Stadium, as well as modernise club facilities such as the training ground. 

Six months on from the initial purchase this relationship between Strasbourg and the other teams within BlueCo’s multi-club model (in particular Chelsea) has become clearer thanks to a report by L’Equipe

BlueCo’s strategy for Strasbourg 

The report detailed that BlueCo were directly inspired by the multi-club model implemented by Red Bull. Wherein the club scouts young players with high potential, develops their skills over a three-year period, and then sells them at a high price before repeating the process. 

Part of that model relies on the role of Red Bull Salzburg who operate as a feeder club for RasenBallsport Leipzig. Talent is developed at Salzburg before it is then moved onto Leipzig where it can be better showcased in the Bundesliga and sold for a higher fee. 

In this system, Strasbourg would become to Chelsea what Salzburg are to Leipzig. A notion that the French team strongly reject. Yet, this concept has regardless influenced a dramatic shift in the transfer strategy at Strasbourg, with recruitment to be focused on players aged 23 or under. 

To better help Strasbourg transition towards this strategy, BlueCo pooled the club’s resources with Chelsea. The two sporting directors of the London team, Paul Winstanley and Laurence Stewart, would provide their expertise, as well as a player database and much superior technological resources. 

A refined strategy

A few weeks into the summer, BlueCo exerted its influence on the club instructing Les Alsaciens to not just simply focus on a recruitment geared towards young players but to focus exclusively on young players. There was no longer room in the budget for any player that did not fit the consortium’s overall strategy and player profile. 

Before this shift, Strasbourg had been in advanced negotiations with several players that had matched the club’s criteria following a season where they had struggled against relegation. In particular, the team had focused its attention on signing an experienced centre-back such as Davinson Sanchez (27) or Kenyan Joseph Okumu (26). 

L’Equipe reports that this had the effect of worrying certain players within the squad, who questioned the benefits of the team looking to focus exclusively on youth when seven players aged 21 or under were already returning to the club following the end of their loan deals. However, Strasbourg argues that they are ‘not extremists… If we have to take an experienced player, we will do it.’ With the club actively renewing Kévin Gameiro’s (36) contract for an extra year. 

The future for Strasbourg

The winter transfer window will reveal much about the future of Les Alsaciens and their relationship within the BlueCo framework of clubs. 

The French side have been provided with €30 to 35 million and the player profile brought in with those funds will likely reveal whether BlueCo’s strategy has developed any further since the summer. 

With the club sat in 10th and the results inconsistent under manager Patrick Vieira there could always be a need for some added experience to help the club in the new year.

GFFN | Nick Hartland

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