Ray Wilkins says Chelsea ignored the pleas of John Terry to keep Nathaniel Chalobah.
The England midfielder was offloaded to Watford for just £6million in the summer after seven years at Stamford Bridge.
The 22-year-old only played 10 Premier League games last term, but he has played in all three of Watford’s first three Premier League games and was rewarded with his first senior England call-up by Gareth Southgate last week.
Wilkins believes selling Chalobah was a huge mistake and claims there is not much between new £40million recruit Tiemoue Bakayoko and the Watford man.
The former Chelsea midfielder, who has been highly critical of Chelsea’s summer transfer business, revealed Terry called on Chalobah to be given a first-team chance a few years ago after impressing him in training.
Asked if Chelsea’s squad was weaker this season, Wilkins told Sky Sports: “Well, very much weaker. When you think what we’ve lost, we’ve lost Nathaniel Chalobah for £6m.
“I can’t see the difference between the £40m that we paid for Bakayoko, I don’t see that £34m difference, I really can’t.
“Nathaniel is an up and coming young man who shows a lot of promise. He’s already got himself in the England squad for his performances this season.
“I spoke with JT (Terry) a long while ago, towards the back end of a season, and he said to me: ‘Ray, just throw Nathaniel in, he’s been different class in training’.
“It’s the players that see them day in, day out that give these guys those plaudits. I was saddened to see Nathaniel go.
“I think we are weakened, players have to get used to the Premier League whereby we had players who were used to winning it, not necessarily being in it but used to winning it.
“We have to start from a little bit square one again but in saying that, the squad is very presently placed because they do have some wonderful footballers.”