Omari Hutchinson dazzled Ipswich Town fans during his loan spell at Portman Road, and reports claim that they want him back from Premier League rivals Chelsea.

Fans are desperate to see the youngster return to Suffolk, but is it viable? Alex Jones takes a look at the transfer saga.

Enzo Maresca replaced Mauricio Pochettino as Chelsea boss earlier this monthEnzo Maresca replaced Mauricio Pochettino as Chelsea boss earlier this month (Image: PA)

The situation at Stamford Bridge

Let’s start by looking at Hutchinson’s situation at Chelsea and why he might be available.

Enzo Maresca’s side need to make sales to comply with Financial Fair Play [FFP] regulations. The one positive for them is that the Premier League have failed to eliminate a loophole where clubs can use profits from sales of club assets in their FFP submissions.

The West Londoners sold two hotels to a sister company of the BlueCo 22 ownership group for a reported fee of £76.5 million, which saw them fall below the limit for their 2022/23 financial reports. Of course, in the long-term future, this won’t necessarily be sustainable.

Chelsea have a lot of assets that seemingly don’t have a pathway into the first team. Former Ipswich loanee Trevoh Chalobah has been linked with a move away, as has England international Conor Gallagher, while the likes of Cesare Casadei, Deivid Washington, and Malang Sarr will find it hard to establish themselves in the starting lineup.

That’s without mentioning the 22 players they had out on loan last season, many of whom will be sold. Hutchinson faces serious competition to even make the squad at Stamford Bridge, and per Fabrizio Romano, Chelsea will not loan him out again and only sanction a permanent move.

The Athletic has reported that Maresca will bring him to their pre-season tour in the United States, but with interest hotting up, we’ll have to wait and see whether that comes to fruition. He’s currently on holiday in Jamaica, which indicates that a transfer might not be imminent. There’s no reason for him or his club to rush into a decision.

CEO Mark Ashton has claimed that the Blues will be competitive in the transfer marketCEO Mark Ashton has claimed that the Blues will be competitive in the transfer market (Image: PA)

Money, money, money…

Ipswich’s current record transfer fee is £4.5 million, which they paid to sign Matteo Sereni from Sampdoria back in August 2001. A move for Hutchinson, you’d imagine, would cost at least four times that amount, which is probably without add-ons and additional clauses.

Putting an exact figure on his value is difficult. His ability is clear for all to see, while his age gives him a perfect balance of maturity and room to develop. That being said, the bulk of his experience has come at youth level, with last season being his first in men’s football. Yes, he played incredibly well, but he also started just 20 league games for Town.

Chelsea triggered a clause to extend his contract until 2026, so they’ve got all the bargaining power here. Fabrizio Romano has claimed that they'll ask for £25-30m, although that may include add-ons. It would likely be Ipswich’s biggest purchase of the summer and would make a real statement to the other clubs in the division.

Of course, it’s important to remember that they wouldn’t be paying all of that up front. Transfers don’t work like that, meaning that the money would come out of their bank account over a number of months and years.

On top of that, Town would have to pay him a competitive wage. He won’t be earning anywhere near as much as Chelsea’s top players, but it’ll still be a decent figure. Luckily, Town have cash to spend, it’s just a case of whether or not they believe it to be a sensible move for the club.

It remains to be seen what their transfer budget is, but the money that comes from being in the Premier League is significant. That being said, they’re still limited by FFP and signing Omari Hutchinson would certainly eat into the losses that they’re allowed to record. They can’t push themselves to the brink to sign one player when most areas of the squad will need extra depth and quality.

However, the 20-year-old provides both of those things.

Hutchinson registered 10 goals and five assists in the Championship last seasonHutchinson registered 10 goals and five assists in the Championship last season (Image: PA)

Is he worth it?

The positives of re-signing Hutchinson on a permanent deal probably go without saying. For starters, we all know what he’s capable of, particularly manager Kieran McKenna. The Northern Irishman managed to develop him in a way that nobody expected, turning him from a raw, talented youngster into one of the best players in the Championship.

There's a certain aura about the way he plays football, which makes him look prepared to take on the top flight. The way he reads the game and takes on defenders is really exciting for such a young player, and his decision making now matches the rest of the game. He almost always knows when to go for goal and when to play a team-mate into space.

His age, as mentioned, is key. A good campaign in the Premier League could double his value, perhaps even triple it depending on the length of his contract and whether Ipswich can avoid relegation. It’s clear that, if he was to re-join, his long-term future could easily be at the highest level, but Town will benefit from that regardless of whether he leaves.

Finally, his versatility would certainly help in the short-term. He’d probably compete with Wes Burns for a spot on the right wing, but he’s also able to cover through the middle or on the left as we've seen. It might save the Blues from going out and signing depth to cover all three positions behind the striker, which they won’t want to do.

But there will still be question marks surrounding his price tag and how much Chelsea will push to maximise what they receive. If the deal was to reach the £30 million mark, that could end up being half of Ipswich’s transfer budget gone on one player – albeit a real talent.

Perhaps McKenna and Mark Ashton have identified a similar player who’d cost half the price, especially now they’ve got the money to really invest in the foreign market if they want to. That could be a risk, but the reward is equally as clear.

Ipswich obviously want to do the deal, but there will be limits on how high they can go when it comes to the fee.

Dutch giants Ajax have also been linked with a moveDutch giants Ajax have also been linked with a move in the last few weeks (Image: PA)

The competition

Aside from Town, Hutchinson has been heavily linked with a move to Bundesliga outfit Stuttgart, while Eredivisie duo Ajax and Feyenoord are reportedly interested as well.

Stuttgart are an interesting case, coming off the back of a remarkable season where they finished second in the league ahead of Bayern Munich. That means they’ll be playing in the UEFA Champions League for the first time since 2009/10.

Hutchinson, while humble and grounded, has been open about his ambition to become one of the best players in the world. The opportunity to play in Europe’s elite competition would surely be tempting for him, even if it takes him away from the Premier League.

He was reportedly invited to attend Stuttgart’s final game of the season at the 60,000-seater MHPArena, where they thrashed Borussia Monchengladbach 4-0.

The finances could be an issue for Sebastian Hoeneß's side, however. Last season, only eight Bundesliga signings cost more than €25 million, with Wolfsburg’s Lovro Majer being the only one not to join Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund or RB Leipzig.

Stuttgart’s record signing remains Nicolas Gonzalez, now of Fiorentina, who cost €11.26 million when he joined from Argentinos Juniors back in 2018. Could they afford to sign Hutchinson, even with Champions League money? It might hinge on whether top scorer Serhou Guirassy moves on, having scored 28 goals in the German top flight last season.

Ajax and Feyenoord are in similar situations. The former have been in disarray both on and off the pitch, finishing last season in fifth – their lowest since 1999/2000. The latter have lost manager Arne Slot to Liverpool and may have to sell some of their best players to Europe’s elite.

On the flip side, both are big clubs that will play in Europe next season. Hutchinson would surely get regular minutes in the Netherlands, but it feels like a bit of a backwards step given the level of the league.

Stuttgart are clearly the biggest threat to Town’s chances of closing a deal for him, but there’s still time for other teams to come to the table. There are undoubtedly more interested parties that are yet to make a move.

The 20-year-old would shatter Town's current transfer recordThe 20-year-old would shatter Town's current transfer record (Image: PA)

The verdict

If Ipswich can agree a fee with Chelsea, there’s no reason why Hutchinson would say no. The chance to be a crucial player for a Premier League team would surely appeal, but the big influence in this saga could be McKenna, who received significant praise from the youngster after his loan spell in Suffolk came to an end.

Hutchinson would surely trust the Northern Irishman to continue his development, having seen him being linked to some of the top clubs in England over the summer before signing a new four-year deal at Portman Road.

The Premier League is a mega brand. If he performs in the English top flight, the eyes of the world will be on him, and that might not be the case in Germany, the Netherlands or elsewhere abroad, away from Champions League nights. Would he be willing to take that risk?

More than anything, it’ll be about the finances. How much can Ipswich put towards this deal without jeopardising the rest of their summer transfer business? We’ll have to wait and see whether or not it matches Chelsea’s asking price.