Levi Colwill – The Cobham Commander

Levi Colwill first came into the spotlight (for Chelsea fans who can only watch broadcasted matches) when he was starting in the FA Youth Cup at just the age of 16. He impressed (the game against Bradford City comes to mind) and not long after found himself starting development squad games, still at 16 years old, when Marc Guehi and Clinton Mola became unavailable. Simply – if you’re starting at this high level in the Chelsea academy at such a young age, there’s a decent chance you’re a special player. Hudson-Odoi really broke onto the public scene when he was 16 and became the star man in the FA Youth Cup run, with his top bins goal against Manchester City springing to mind, and more recently we have seen Charlie Webster and Jude Soonsup-Bell feature at this age too – the two standout players in their age group, along with by Harvey Vale.

There is just something about a left-footed player, but I can’t really describe it in words – they seem as if they play with such elegance, which Levi certainly does. He’s just turned 18, meaning he can still play in the FA Youth Cup this season, and with Lewis Bate, Tino Livramento, Myles Peart-Harris and Soonsup-Bell beside him, they certainly will be looking to get the trophy back after last season’s heartbreak loss to Manchester City in the final.

I was thinking this the other day, and without hyping him too much, Levi kind of has the perfect build for a centre-half. When you go on Pro Clubs or Football Manager and try and build a defender, it’s actually very similar to him. He’s tall (self proclaimed as you can see in the tweet below…), quick, strong, composed and has got leadership skills as shown by captaining the Chelsea academy sides on multiple occasions – I mean what else do you want?

I guess the thing which most people are interested in is how does he compare to the likes of Marc Guehi and Fikayo Tomori? Well, this certainly isn’t easy. I was a fan of Marc really early on and saw the potential when most were talking about Billy Gilmour and Tino Anjorin, and Fik was one of my favourite players at the club when he featured under Frank Lampard. Without trying to overhype him too much… I genuinely believe Colwill has a higher ceiling than both, and I’m not saying that lightly. Although, there’s a very good chance this may be completely wrong, as no one knows at all the way someone transitions from academy football to men’s football.

I think one of his best qualities is his game management and the way he opens up space on the pitch. Due to his composure on the ball, he has zero problems in running past the pressing attackers and then he’ll lay it off to the midfielders like Lewis to do their magic. Colwill –> Bate –> Livramento –> Soonsup-Bell is a play we’re hopefully going to see A LOT in the future. Something which I have loved about this Chelsea side under Thomas Tuchel is the way the defenders know when to hoof the ball up for Werner to run onto, and when to play it out of the back into the midfield, with this being significantly seen in the games against Liverpool and Atletico Madrid. Levi is PERFECT for this. He plays inbetween the lines brilliantly, and also has his ‘signature’ move where he shifts the ball onto his left foot and just waits a few seconds before playing it up towards Bryan Fiabema or Soonsup-Bell, who normally end up with the ball at their feet. He’s got a very similar passing range to Antonio Rudiger, and as I said before looks extremely elegant on the ball. Not that it really matters how someone looks with the ball, but for some reason fans of the game now are obsessed with aesthetics and hence think Tammy Abraham and Kurt Zouma aren’t good players.

Ever since John Terry left the club we have always tried to compare one of our academy products to him. We did it with Jake Clarke-Salter who has had some success out on loan but will probably never appear for Chelsea again, and Andreas Christensen who has been involved a lot more, but still has failed to hit the heights which were once described for the Danish defender. Can Levi be that person? The English defender certainly can be, with their natural defending instincts and ability on the ball being pretty similar, but that’s such a big comparison I’m in no way making yet.

In the last two seasons, he’s mainly played as a Left Centre-Back for the Blues. Left footed defenders are certainly admired in the football market, and it is one of the reasons there was such strong interest in re-signing Nathan Ake before he went to Manchester City. Chelsea lack a left footed centre back in the squad at the moment, and that could be a trait which gives the nod to Colwill ahead of the others around him. In the last U23s game against Manchester City we switched to 4 at the back where he started next to Dujon Sterling who is much more of a RB/RWB, and despite conceding a very unfortunate goal due to a wicked deflection, in the last few minutes of the game he scored a brilliant goal from a set piece to make it level.

I don’t actually think I’ve mentioned his defending enough. After all he’s a defender and that’s the main thing he should be good at – and he’s brilliant. He reads the game extremely well – knows when to go into the tackle or back off. His big structure allows him to get into challenges strongly and he wins a lot of headers, in both boxes. Despite being 6’3, he’s quite quick and is definitely able to make recovery tackles. Making vital interceptions is also a big part of his game, something he’s done a lot of at LCB.

For me, and many others, the games which confirmed that he was good enough was his performance in the EFL Trophy group stage, where he defended brilliantly against League 1 and League 2 forwards. He completely translated his game from the development squad into professional football, and like we’ve said with Tino Anjorin many times, he looked and played like an experienced player on the pitch at the age of 17.

You can watch some of his incredible defending in the EFL Trophy in the first part of this video…

My thoughts on the defender can pretty much be summed up in this tweet by @throwaway1297. The fact is that Premier League 2 is too easy for him at the moment and to really develop he needs to be challenged and move out on loan. The Secret Scout reported a few months ago that he potentially would be involved in first team training next season, although at the moment this seems very unlikely with us having four centre backs and Azpilicueta all playing regularly at the moment and enjoying life under Tuchel, while the likes of Guehi and Tomori could return from their loan spells and stay at the club from this Summer. So what next? He wouldn’t want to delay himself and wait around, so a loan deal for Levi seems very likely. If Swansea don’t get promoted, perhaps they could be an option and he could follow a very similar pathway to Guehi, or he may even look at Tomori’s success at AC Milan so far and see a foreign loan as a viable option. His future this Summer is one to keep an eye on, with his contract running out in 2023, so he’ll be looking for a clear plan for his entrance into the first team picture before potentially signing a new deal.

His character is also great. He seems someone who’s shy and humble, but on the other hand got that aggression to him. If someone goes in for a hard challenge in him in training or a senior player tries to let him know who’s boss, then bet you know that he’s not going to sit down and he will be squaring up.

I’ve written reports on Billy Gilmour, Tino Anjorin, Henry Lawrence and Lewis Bate quite early on, and since then they’ve all developed hugely, so I really hope the same will happen with Colwill. Like I say each time, although this may sound extremely hypocritical, it’s very important not to overhype them too much as they’ve all still got a lot of work to do and football is a very ruthless sport in that sense. But on the other hand, people need to start trusting our academy players, because as we’ve seen with Reece James, Mason Mount, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Tammy Abraham – they’re our best players and that’s because we’ve got an elite academy.

Written by Paree

How Chilwell has emerged as Ashley Cole’s heir apparent

A few months ago I was convinced that the Chelsea hierarchy were making a huge mistake in targeting Ben Chilwell as the club’s next long-term left back. The position has been a major weakness in the squad since Ashley Cole left Stamford Bridge in the summer of 2014 (excluding two scintillating seasons of Marcos Alonso as a left wing-back under Antonio Conte) and I was convinced that there were better, more cost-effective options on the market as I pushed for Alex Telles and Nicolas Tagliafico to be considered. I am happy to admit that I was wrong and, surprisingly, Frank Lampard and the board had a better idea of what was needed than I did! We can’t always be right, and having previously performed a U-turn in my opinion about Declan Rice, I will happily do the same for his compatriot, who looks to have Chelsea’s left back slot for the next decade under lock and key.

Chilwell has hit the ground running as a Chelsea player. After only 10 league starts the England international has racked up 5 goal contributions (2 goals and 3 assists), only one short of his tally  over the entirety of the last campaign. His early form helped Chelsea shoot up the table to third before their recent wobbles against Everton and Wolverhampton Wanderers, and if he continues to exhibit the skills he has shown so far I have no doubt that he will be a key player in helping the club avert their current mini-crisis.

An early sign of Chilwell being the perfect fit for Lampard’s system is his couple of league goals. The former Leicester man got off to a dream start by converting (and assisting) against Crystal Palace on his debut, lashing a loose ball on the left of the area past a helpless Guaita. Lampard wants his full backs to be offensive, especially against defensive low blocks, and to get in and around the area, something Chilwell is clearly willing to do. Even his scruffy – potentially inadvertent – finish against Sheffield United was an example of Lampard’s ideal goal. Chilwell stealthily floated in between wing-back Max Lowe and goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale at the back post to convert a beautiful deep cross from Hakim Ziyech. Only a slightly cynical looking shove in the back against Burnley prevented him converting another back post cross from Reece James. Chilwell is consistently making darting runs off the shoulder of the last defender towards the back post to gamble on a deep delivery from one of the formidable duo of James and Ziyech. This is something we saw Pulisic excel at last campaign but given his injury-hit start to the season, Lampard has clearly asked his new left back to take up the responsibility, and if he continues to make runs in this vein then the goals will continue to come.

It is not only his goal scoring which has been promising so far. One of my main gripes with Chilwell before his arrival was his lack of apparent crossing ability, as he managed only 0.7 completed crosses per 90 minutes in each of his previous 3 seasons at Leicester. With the aerial threat provided by Olivier Giroud, Tammy Abraham and Kai Havertz, having excellent crossers is essential to Lampard’s system as proved by Reece James. However, not only has Chilwell massively improved in this department, he has also overtaken his compatriot’s numbers, managing 1.6 completed crosses per league game so far in 2020/21 compared to James’s 1.5. This is clearly an area that the 23-year-old has worked on extensively in training, and it has proved crucial on the pitch. His near-post delivery was gratefully accepted by the left boot of Giroud to put us ahead at Wolves, and his delightful, floated delivery into the Palace box was converted by the clinical head of Kurt Zouma in October. The variety of crosses in his repertoire make him a danger to any defence and this will continue to prove crucial to Chelsea throughout the season.

When looking at Chilwell’s underlying numbers last campaign, I was also concerned by his minimal defensive contributions in comparison to Cesar Azpilicueta, the player Lampard most trusted to fill in at left back last season. Whilst his tackles and interceptions per game are roughly the same this term (2.7 compared to 2.6), he is making fewer fouls and crucially is getting dribbled past less than he was last time out. Last season Chilwell was bypassed 1.1 times per 90 minutes of league play, a number he has reduced to 0.7 so far. As defending against quick counters was one of Chelsea’s Achilles heels last season, having a reliable presence to stop rapid wingers in their tracks before they can launch counter-attacks is vital, and Chilwell is certainly playing his part in doing so thus far.

We can see that Chilwell is excelling so far, but how is he doing compared to another left back Chelsea were linked with in the summer who recently arrived in England? Telles signed for Manchester United on deadline day, and although there was a time that I would have been envious of this deal, Chilwell has so far proved himself to be the superior signing (although this is from a very small sample size). The Portuguese full back has only a solitary assist to show from his 8 league and Champions League starts to date despite being a much more attack-minded player than his English counterpart last season. He is also dribbled past more and makes more fouls per game than Chilwell, although he wins possession of the ball back for his side on average once more every 90 minutes. Additionally, Chilwell is 4 years Telles’ junior and is yet to enter his prime. Although United may have found a solid left back for the next few years, Chelsea have snaffled a supreme one for the decade to come.

The Blue’s signings have largely performed excellently so far this term: with Edouard Mendy a gargantuan presence in goal, Thiago Silva an inspiring leader at the back and Timo Werner terrifying opposition defences with his electric pace, it could be argued that Chilwell has made the greatest impact of the bunch. The Englishman has turned left back from a nightmare position to one which is a genuine asset to the side, and he is only going to get better from here as he meshes with the side’s other new signings. Not only has Chilwell excelled on the pitch, but he is also said to be incredibly popular in the changing room and has certainly bought into the youthful, positive vibe around this Chelsea squad. It has taken 6 years and over fifty million pounds invested in failed left backs, but Chelsea have finally got their man and in Chilwell we have someone who can help drive the side to a new era of glory.

Podcast: Loan Roundup & Newcastle Preview w/@rramesss!

In another episode of The Chelsea Spot podcast, Orlando (Host – @0rland1nho) is joined by Recruitment Guru @rramess where they discuss how our players on loan have been doing, and they also preview tomorrow’s game against Newcastle United!

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Podcast: Kai Havertz Special w/ @KierDoyle!

This pod is full of ideas for next season!

In another episode of The Chelsea Spot Podcast, Orlando (Host – @0rland1nho) and special guest Kieran (@KierDoyle) discuss everything there is to be discussed about Chelsea’s new signing Kai Havertz. They brainstorm how he could fit in to the Chelsea team this season and how he might develop as a player in the future, as well as loads more!

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Sergio Reguilón Scout Report


After completing his debut season without signing any players, Frank Lampard has already taken an early plunge into the market as he looks to assemble the next great Chelsea squad. Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner have been brought in for a combined £85 million, and should go a long way towards improving the side’s goal tally next season. With Kai Havertz likely to follow later in the window, the gaping holes remaining seem to be at the back. Arguably the number one priority should be bringing in a new goalkeeper to replace the hapless Kepa Arrizabalaga, with a commanding centre back not far behind, but left back also remains a position which has long been in need of strengthening. Chelsea Twitter has exploded over the past couple of weeks after Sky Sports reported potential interest from the Blues in Sergio Reguilón, with many delighted to see anyone other than Ben Chilwell lined up to finally succeed Ashley Cole. So how good is Reguilón, what can he bring to the team, and is the excitement in his signature solely down to him being a far cheaper alternative to Chilwell?

Reguilón has rapidly made a name for himself out on loan from Real Madrid at Sevilla this season. The 23 year old helped his side to a fourth placed finish whilst earning himself the title of the ‘best left back in La Liga’ in 2019/20. He excelled as part of Spain’s third best back line, leaking just 34 goals across the season (fewer than Barcelona and bettered only by the Madrid clubs). Supposedly available this summer for just £18 million (he is behind Marcelo and Ferland Mendy in the Real pecking order), he offers a cost-effective solution to a weak area of Chelsea’s squad, strengthening it whilst allowing more funds to be pumped into solving the goalkeeper and centre back areas.

Despite being defensively solid, it is in the attacking phase that Reguilón stands out. He has contributed 6 goals in 29 league starts this season, the same as both Chilwell and Marcos Alonso (admittedly having played 1000 minutes more than his compatriot). He also manages to create a chance and take 1.3 shots on average per game, above Chilwell in the combined metric but well below Alonso’s 3.1 across the two. However, it is his ball-carrying ability which really sets him apart from most full backs. The Spain under-21 international completes an incredible 1.7 dribbles per game, the fourth highest figure in Europe amongst natural left backs (behind Alphonso Davies, Theo Hernandez and Noah Katterbach). His ability to drive up the left flank with the ball could prove useful as this season’s regular starting left backs – Azpilicueta and Alonso – are often slow in transitioning from defence to attack. With an energetic presence bombing up and down the left and overlapping Pulisic, our ability to cause overloads and trouble the opposition’s right flank would massively increase.

Reguilón has excelled on loan at Sevilla this season, earning the title of the best left back in La Liga, photo credit: football.london

With one of Azpilicueta and Alonso starting every game at left-back since the season’s restart, a lack of pace in the position has been highlighted. Reguilón is comparatively rapid, clocked at speeds of 33.5km/hr, and his speed combined with his low centre of mass make him a frightening prospect on the break. From the footage I have seen of him, he appears to have very quick feet too, somehow conjuring the ball past opposition defenders when at full flow. His speed of foot and mind certainly make him an appealing prospect to Lampard, and while Chilwell is actually slightly faster (34.7km/hr), he manages a mere 0.7 dribbles per game, highlighting just how good Reguilón is going forwards. 

An aspect of Reguilón’s game which will boost his standing with Frank Lampard is his impressive progressive passing. The Spaniard completed an average of 10.18 progressive passes (defined as a pass 30m long from inside the player’s own half or 10m long from inside the opposition half) per league game this season and despite his brave style of play – he always looks to play out from the back regardless of how intense the opposition press is – he still complete 81% of his passes. He is ahead of Chilwell in both metrics (9.6 and 72% respectively) and his attacking instincts are best illustrated by the fact that before the season’s postponement in March, he had taken the second most shots of any La Liga full back. 

Reguilón is yet to make an appearance for Spain but has turned out for the under-21s, photo credit: Marca

Something else which marks out Reguilón as a player perfect for Lampard’s system is his ability to slot into a pressing side. His 0.7 tackles a game are dwarfed by Chilwell’s 1.6, but he doesn’t need to rely on fighting for the ball when he has become such an expert at reading the play, managing 2.7 interceptions per game (compared to the Englishman’s 1). His 8.57 recoveries and 4.04 counter-pressing recoveries per game paints picture of his aggressive, front-foot game. His pace also allows him to quickly recover if he misses an interception or if space behind a high line is exploited. These traits make him perfect for Lampard’s positive, attacking brand of football and would surely help to sure up a porous defence next season.

No player is perfect and one of the main concerns over Reguilón is his lack of height. Standing at just 5 foot 8 inches tall, he is not aerially dominant. He manages to win 1.3 aerial duels per 90 minutes, not far off half the figures of Alonso and Chilwell (2.3 and 2.1 respectively), and this won’t fill fans with hope given Chelsea’s vulnerability to conceding from set pieces. However, Reguilón is taller than the best Premier League left back of all time, Ashley Cole, and with some work on the timing of his leaps he could quickly put concerns over his aerial prowess to bed. 

Although the 23 year old regularly looks to create chances from crosses, averaging 5.34 per 90 minutes – 6th most in La Liga – he isn’t always accurate. His cross completion rate of 39% is considerably lower than his peers in the top 6 and marks out his delivery as something to improve upon. The main causes for encouragement is that he regularly finds himself in dangerous positions and with some practise he could become an expert at whipping in dangerous balls into the box from a variety of areas. 

Having watched footage of Reguilón in Spain and in the Europa League, as well as taking a deep dive into his underlying numbers, it is clear that he is an exciting prospect. Although this piece is not a discussion of whether Chilwell or Reguilón should be signed this summer (stats of other left backs were included for comparison), it is clear that at just £18 million, Reguilón would represent a much smarter investment than the £80 million rated Chilwell. The Spaniard mixes pace, quick feet and an aggressive style of defending to make him a very competent modern full back, and with some work on his crossing and heading he could grow into one of the most well rounded in the league. With the transfer window well and truly underway, now could be the time for Chelsea to pounce and secure one of the bargain signings of the summer. 

Written by Daniel New

Henry Lawrence – The Versatile One [Scout Report]

Henry Lawrence… (Image Source – TCC)

Chelsea and ‘youth’ are two words which before this season didn’t go together at all, but the arrival of Joe Edwards, Jody Morris and Frank Lampard in the home dugout as well as the transfer ban certainly changed that linkup. As fans have seen the likes of Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham, Fikayo Tomori, Reece James, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Billy Gilmour all have a proper shot with the first team, the Chelsea academy has never been as popular. More and more Chelsea supporters have been trying to look down the age groups to try and find out who the next ‘talent’ is, and even some of them have made an appearance this season.

Marc Guehi has featured against Manchester United in the Carabao Cup, while the likes of Tino Anjorin, Ian Maatsen and Armando Broja have all debuted for Chelsea at some point this season. All four players have such high potential and have impressed when given their minutes, such that the academy players would be working even harder to try and push into that first team. One player who has been in the spotlight recently is Lewis Bate, who made the bench against Sheffield United at just the age of 17 – check out our scouting report of the young English midfielder by my fellow writer Orlando. If it wasn’t for his injury in training with the first team, there is a good chance that Henry Lawrence could have been involved in the squad too. But who is exactly Henry Lawrence, and why isn’t his name being mentioned much?

Michael Emenalo exclusive interview: 'I had to fight to keep ...
Just a few players who the academy boys can look up to… (Image Source – The Telegraph)

Just to clear things up, sometimes young players’ name’s being mentioned less can be a good thing. As Pat Nevin said in our exclusive interview, it would be harsh to comment on the ‘next big thing’ from the academy since all it is doing is putting immense pressure on them when the transformation from youth football to men’s football is definitely a huge one. As we have seen with Billy Gilmour, his substitution against Sheffield United wasn’t convincing and led to us dropping a 2-0 lead, and therefore was put under immense pressure from the Chelsea fanbase and was blamed for us losing two points, yet only a few months later he dropped two masterclasses in a week against Liverpool and Everton. Also, like I said, Lawrence had trained with the first team a couple of times throughout the season and has impressed Lampard according to certain reports, and him going under the radar means that he can just do his work and business without being in the headlines.

Enough waffling though, let’s get into Henry Lawrence as a player…

Henry’s name was first brought up properly on social media at the beginning of the season, when he scored a screamer against Brighton at Stamford Bridge for the development team. His curling effort from a tight angle was mainly overshadowed by a Callum Hudson-Odoi assist who received the ball with a great switch from Reece James, yet as I was sitting in East Lower with the fans, I kept an eye on the fullback and the more I watched him the more I was impressed. After the game, I contacted him on Instagram congratulating him on the goal and a really solid performance, and he replied and ever since we have stayed in touch, which also shows a touch of class which not many footballers have the time for.

As the season went on, as I attended more matches at Kingsmeadow and plenty more games were being streamed on The Fifth Stand, I kept an eye on Lawrence more and more and his ability really started to shine, especially in the FA Youth Cup, and personally he has a really strong contention for Academy Player of the Season.

If you know anything about Lawrence, it’ll most likely be that he’s extremely versatile. We joked about it during a chat, but he has played in every single position apart from Goalkeeper some time this season, including striker in pre-season. Shifting from Right-Back to Left-Back, sometimes to Centre-Back in a back three, often as a Wing-Back on either side, originally being a midfielder, and playing on both wings too, Lawrence has played to a top level in each position and shown enough Football IQ to understand the game fully.

With some players, I think having a few positions under their belt can be a negative thing. For example, with players like Trevoh Chalobah and Ethan Ampadu, as much as it is great for them to get minutes while on loan and to experience different positions and roles, for me I would love to see Chalobah nail down the Centre-Back role, and for the Welsh player to stick as a central defensive midfielder, where he is best at for Wales. But with other players, it can work – playing in a few different positions. Players like James Milner has played in multiple positions throughout his career and excelled in each one, as welling as moving between them as he aged. Even Chelsea club captain Cesar Azpilicueta has played in both fullback roles as well as a centre-back in a 3 at the back formation, and I have also seen some extremely dodgy shouts on the timeline saying that he has the qualities to play in defensive midfield! Lawrence can definitely be like one of the latter players, and there isn’t anyone better than Dave to learn from.

Lawrence has recently been compared to Ethan Ampadu, however I’d argue that that’s an easy and lazy comparison to make and that comparisons to Azpilicueta make a lot more sense. It’s not necessarily the style of play which makes them similar, but more the level of consistency. Dave has been named ‘Mr Consistent’ by Chelsea fans all over the world, and every single game he puts in a shift no matter what. Lawrence has shown a high level of consistency over the season and I’d struggle to namy any disasterclasses.

One comparison makes a lot more sense… (image source – Chelsea FC)

Another way in which you could compare the two is that they both play a nice and simple game, but still a good one. That is certainly a quality which Frank Lampard likes. As Lampard said in a press-conference and Roy Keane emphasised in the Sky Sports studio, Billy Gilmour was just playing a very simple game ‘like the old days’ and was always looking forward, trying to keep the ball moving and being aware defensively. None of the fancy flicks and turns in midfield, nor dancing in celebrations, just simply wants to play the game and help the team score as many goal as possible. Although Henry does have some flair in his locker due to playing in the midfield previously, he’s not the one to always show it and like Azpilicueta plays a simple game and is very composed on the ball.

0:30 for a beautiful flick before the goal…

To round off the article, let’s quickly go through some other qualities. Lawrence has a really powerful shot, as shown by his goal against Liverpool, and really aims to keep it on target. Have a look at his goal which according to my memory brought us level at the time…

Follow me while you are there…*wink*

His dribbling is also one of his best qualities, but to be honest, I think I could say that for every single Chelsea academy graduate with how advanced the training technically is. He’s not afraid to dribble past a player in defence to create another option, or if it’s to whip in a cross. Arguably his best goal, in his international debut for the England U19’s, consisted of him running all the way from the halfway line, dribbling past three players and tucking it sweetly into the bottom left hand corner.

Rapid pace, elite dribbling, sweet shot….

Obviously with him being a quick player and being able to dribble well, it opens up a lot of opportunities to cross the ball in or make the right pass. So many times you will see him go past a player and cross it in brilliantly into the box, or to beat a few players which opens up a lot of space for the likes of Anjorin and Bate to do the work in front of goal. A few times this season Lawrence has also broken the lines with one simple pass, something which Lampard is looking for more and more.

Finally, it’s the work he does off the ball which really shouldn’t be missed. Defensively the fullback is strong and really isn’t afraid to put in a tackle or go into a 50/50. When moving off the ball, it’s arguably some of the best I have seen. He’s always looking to make an option and really understands what the players around him wants to do. Something which Reece James has done a lot this season is come into midfield in a three at the back formation, and when playing four at the back he’s overlapping a lot more and whipping crosses in. Lawrence is constantly making inward and outward runs and is able to do both pretty well due to playing in so many positions, and for the opposition defender it must be extremely confusing. I think Chelsea Academy guru @chelseayouth summed it up quite well…

I’ve said it when writing scout reports on Gilmour, Anjorin and Bate and I’ll repeat it again. The transformation from youth football to men’s football is very hard and we don’t know how they’ll get on, but the potential is very high and I’m sure he’s working hard to reach that level.

What do you think of Lawrence? Let us know on our social media platforms and my personal account..

Want to know about my opinion and Orlando’s on other academy players? Have a listen to our podcast we recorded a few months ago where we went through and talked about as many academy players as we could…

Have a listen…

Lewis Bate – the Sidcup Seedorf

Since the restart of football following the coronavirus break, a number of players from Chelsea’s academy have been training with the senior squad, including Tino Anjorin, Armando Broja, and Henry Lawrence among others. Another was 17-year-old midfielder Lewis Bate, who, despite only being a first-year scholar, turned out to be the only one to make the bench for a first-team game, against Sheffield United. Tino Anjorin would have been likely to be named on the bench at some point, had he not sustained a season-ending injury in training shortly after Chelsea’s first Premier League game back against Aston Villa. He did travel with the senior squad to Villa Park, but he wasn’t named in the matchday squad. This, and injuries to Billy Gilmour, N’golo Kanté and Mateo Kovačić opened the door for Bate to be named as a substitute at Sheffield United and also to travel with the squad to multiple other games. His season ended at Wembley with the senior squad for the FA Cup final – a great end to a great season for the youngster, as it was put by @chelseayouth on Twitter. So, what is it that has made this season so great for him?

Bate’s rise to being named on the first-team bench at Sheffield United this season has been nothing short of remarkable. It was only in October 2019, at the beginning of this season, that Bate was signing his first professional contract with Chelsea on turning seventeen years old. Before that, though, he had already caught the eye playing for England’s Under-18 side and made his Chelsea Under-18 debut in August 2018. Last season, he played fairly regularly up an age group for Chelsea’s Under-18 side as a 16-year-old ‘schoolboy’, and was also named Player of the Tournament as Chelsea captain at the Premier League Under-16 International Tournament. The Sidcup-born teenager was also the only Chelsea player to be selected in England’s squad for the Under-17 European Championships in April 2019.

Bate signing his first professional contract for Chelsea at age 17. Credit: @lewbate on Twitter

Despite showing so much promise at such a tender age, few would have expected Bate to be working so closely with the senior squad this early. He started the season off with the Under-18 squad in a midfield pairing with Xavier Simons that worked wonders in Ed Brand’s 3-4-2-1 until around February, when both capitalised on the promotion of Billy Gilmour to Chelsea’s first-team squad and the departures of Clinton Mola (permanent, to VfB Stuttgart), and George McEachran (loan, to SC Cambuur) to make multiple impressive appearances for Chelsea’s Under-23 side in the Premier League 2.

Bate also played in four of Chelsea’s UEFA Youth League group stage matches, as well as being one of the stand-out performers in this year’s FA Youth Cup campaign, in which a semi-final against Manchester United at Stamford Bridge and a potential final away at Blackburn Rovers or Manchester City still remain to be played.

It is extremely impressive how at home Bate looked in Under-23 football when called upon this season, playing against players sometimes as much as three or four years older than him. He has been said to have impressed in training with the first-team squad as well. So, what kind of a player is he, and what are the attributes that have enabled him to appear so accomplished at so many different levels?

Bate taking part in training with Timo Werner and N’golo Kanté. Credit: @lewbate on Twitter

Bate is a diminutive but combative central midfielder with a sweet left foot. Equally comfortable as a number six, number eight, or in a double pivot, he does his shift out of possession, but it’s his work on the ball which really stands out. If I were to pick out three of his best qualities, they would be his Kovačić-esque dribbling ability to get out of tight spaces, his Gilmour-esque wide range and composed execution of passes, and his Kanté-esque tenacity and stamina. It is that mixture of game intelligence, ingenuity with the ball at his feet, and a feisty willingness to get stuck in, no matter against whom, that earned him my comparison with the great Clarence Seedorf.

Whenever you look at him, Bate is always scanning the pitch. He knows where everyone is at all times and loves to get on the ball and turn quickly with his first touch, before spraying it wide or driving it between the lines. One of his favourite moves is to entice an opposition player in, before playing a one-two with a teammate or using his quick feet to bypass the press and drive into the space vacated.

Bate is also a great leader, demonstrated by his successful captaincy of the Chelsea Under-16 side and other age groups throughout his time at Cobham. Even when not captain, he is always urging his teammates on and likes to encourage by example as well, and tends to still perform well in games where his team may not be quite at it. A good example of this was in the FA Youth Cup quarter-final 1-0 victory over Millwall at Stamford Bridge, when the 17-year-old was one of the best players on the pitch.

If I had to pick one weakness of Bate’s game that needs to be worked on, it is that he sometimes gets caught in possession when dwelling on the ball for too long. This is natural considering the position and role that he plays, but it happens a bit too often than he would like.

Bate taking on Millwall’s defence in the FA Youth Cup quarter final at Stamford Bridge. Credit: @lewbate on Twitter

Bate was unlucky in that had Chelsea been 3-0 up, rather than 3-0 down, against Sheffield United, he would have been likely to have been brought on for his Chelsea first-team debut. Instead, it is quite probable that Bate will make his debut against Bayern Munich in a few days, a game in which there is only pride to be played for. Hopefully he will produce a decent display, but, against one of the best sides in world football, the most important thing for a young player is to learn from the experience.

With luck, we will see the Sidcup Seedorf lining up with Billy Gilmour and co for Chelsea in years to come. Until then, he will continue to do his thing wherever he plays, whether that be for a Chelsea academy side, on loan somewhere, or for the Chelsea first team.

Why Olivier Giroud will be crucial in the run-in and beyond

With a pirouette and a sweep of his right boot, Olivier Giroud once again proved to Frank Lampard how vital a role he will play in the remainder of this campaign, and potentially next season as well. His sweetly struck winner against Aston Villa on Sunday was his 3rd goal in 6 Premier League starts this season, and demonstrated his ability to find the net when Chelsea need him the most. With Chelsea embarking on a run of 9 league games in just 35 days following the season’s resumption, the Frenchman can expect plenty more game time, and Chelsea fans can expect plenty more high-quality showings from the World Cup winner.

Giroud has stepped up when needed by Chelsea yet again last weekend, striking a crucial winner against Aston Villa. Photo credit: The Guardian

Entering the season there was uncertainty over who would start in the centre forward berth for Chelsea. Young Tammy Abraham, however, made the role his own, with an impressive run of 7 league goals in 3 appearances before the September international break, leaving Olivier Giroud in the cold. A remarkable run of 10 consecutive games without being included in the match day squad either side of the turn of the year illustrated how out of favour the 33 year old was in Lampard’s plans. Below the struggling Michy Batshuayi in the pecking order, and with noise growing about a rumoured move to Serie A in January, how has Giroud so rapidly made himself almost indispensable to the club?

After scoring in Chelsea’s routine 3-0 win over Burnley in January, the strain of carrying Chelsea’s attack in his debut season seemed to catch up with Abraham. Up until then there had been occasional knocks, with Batshuayi deputising in his place, until Tammy was left out of the match day squad for the game against Manchester United in February. Batshuayi missed two gilt-edged chances, leading to him passing up the starting centre forward role to Giroud, and the Frenchman has started all 4 league games since, scoring an impressive 3 times and cementing himself in Lampard’s plans.

Even after such fine form it was a surprise to many that Giroud started ahead of his young English teammate against Aston Villa. The Frenchman presumably was chosen for his ability with his back to goal, an area he is arguably the best in the world in, as Villa’s extremely low block would require an awful lot of linkup play to unpick. Giroud duly obliged, putting in a vintage display. He managed to win 5 aerial duels as he successfully fought off the huge centre back pairing of Kortney Hause and Tyrone Mings. He also won 3 fouls, proving how much of a handful he can be to opposition defences. His sharp touches and intricate passes were evident throughout, most noticeably when he played a key part in the build up to his goal: exchanging a nice one-two with Mount on the edge of Villa’s area before cleverly pulling back from marker Hourihane, receiving the ball from Azpilicueta, turning, and firing in via a slight deflection. 

Not only will Giroud be useful for sharing minutes with Abraham as the games come thick and fast, he could also be selected ahead of his teammate against the low block defences Chelsea often face. With three games against bottom-half opposition, Giroud could prove to be the key to unlocking stingy defences. As mentioned, his hold up play is outstanding, and he averages 3.1 aerial duels won per game, slightly better than Abraham’s 3, which could help when Chelsea need someone to take down quick cross-field balls as they look to create an over-load down one flank. His now legendary flicks and tricks could also be vital when providing the killer touch to undo a congested defensive line, something Tammy has struggled with at times this season.

Abraham and Giroud could share minutes with fixtures coming thick and fast, photo credit: We Ain’t Got No History

Marina Granovskaia – a Chelsea director and Abramovich’s number 2 – moved quickly this summer to secure Giroud to a one-year contract extension. Although many saw this as a safety net for both player and club given the uncertain market in the wake of the global pandemic, it could prove to be a wise move on the pitch too. With Werner arriving at Stamford Bridge next season, he will join Abraham and Giroud as extremely capable number 9s battling for game time. However, at RB Leipzig Werner has been played in a two man strike partnership in 26 of his 33 Bundesliga appearances this season , often paired with the 6 foot 3 inch tall Yussuf Poulsen. The big Danish striker is essentially a more limited version of Giroud, played to win aerial duels and to facilitate Werner’s darting runs from the left. Either Giroud or Abraham could play in a centre forward duo with the German, or as a number 9 with Werner cutting in from the left wing next season, in which case Giroud could be essential if Abraham is injured or lacking form. Even though the Frenchman turns 34 in September, it is clear to see how important he is to this Chelsea squad, especially if they go deep in numerous competitions next term.

Not only has he impressed on the pitch, Giroud has also displayed an extraordinary mentality this year. When faced with transfer speculation in the January window, he didn’t force his way out of the club or hand in a transfer request, and when he didn’t get a move away he didn’t complain. Instead, being the model professional he is, he got his head down and worked hard to show Lampard what he was missing. Ultimately his goals have been worth 4 points since then (with vital strikes in 2-1 wins over Spurs and Villa) and by the end of the season that could prove to be the difference between making and missing out on a lucrative Champions League spot. His mentality and pedigree is so inspirational that it is worth having him around, not only to play, but also to pass on his experience to our current crop of youngsters so they can learn from one of the most accomplished players in the league.

With Champions League qualification on the line in a frantic run-in, Giroud could play a vital role in securing Chelsea a spot in next season’s elite European competition. He could also stick around next season and help the transition of Lampard’s young squad from also-rans to title challengers. Not bad for someone who seemed finished at Chelsea earlier this year! We should all be grateful for the Frenchman’s service, and appreciate him for staying put in difficult circumstances. Hopefully he hangs around for a little longer.

Written by Daniel New

Could Abraham and Werner be the new Drogba and Anelka?

When Nicolas Anelka arrived at Stamford Bridge in the January transfer window of 2008, it seemed to the world that he was joining as competition to – or potentially as a replacement for – the great Didier Drogba. With the Ivorian forward sulking after the departure of his mentor, Jose Mourinho (even going so far as to tell France Football Magazine that he wanted to ‘leave Chelsea’), it seemed inevitable that in the summer of 2008 he would join the ‘special one’ at Inter Milan. However, Drogba stayed and, after the arrival of Carlo Ancelotti in 2009, formed a lethal partnership with Anelka, one which would fire Chelsea to the first league and cup double in the club’s history. With Timo Werner set to join the Blues this summer, and with new number 9 Tammy Abraham stalling on signing a new contract, we now have a similar situation on our hands. Will Tammy be replaced and shown the exit door, or will he push his game on to new levels and form a deadly duo with his new German teammate, just as Drogba and Anelka did just over a decade ago?

Tammy and Timo could prove to be a deadly duo

The similarities between the situations in 2008 and the present don’t end at a potentially disgruntled Chelsea striker being joined by a world class forward. Much has been made this season of Tammy’s likeness to his hero, Didier Drogba. Both are able to lead the line on their own magnificently well, use their 6 foot plus frames to bully defenders and play superbly with their backs to goal. They both hold up and link play with ease as well. The other half of both partnerships also bear a resemblance, with Werner and Anelka both possessing extraordinary speed and looking to cut in from the wings to attack opposition defences. Surely it is written in the stars that Tammy and Timo can emulate their great predecessors?

Before Chelsea fans can even comprehend a long-lasting partnership between Tammy and Timo, there is the small issue of the former’s contract quickly running down. With 2 years left on his current deal and negotiations between him and the club coming to a stand-still, this is a potentially pivotal period in Tammy’s career. Inheriting the Chelsea number 9 shirt following a long list of disappointing predecessors – with the last great striker to don the shirt arguably Jimmy Hasselbaink in the early noughties (sorry Fernando!) – Abraham has been able to banish the supposed ‘curse’ that haunted those before him, netting 13 goals and providing 3 assists in just 23 league starts! Lampard knows how crucial a player like Tammy is to Chelsea: someone in the Drogba and Costa mould is hard to find and, now that we have someone who fits the bill, the manager surely won’t be looking to let him go. But whether Tammy feels valued by the club due to a refusal to match his wages to the currently much less impactful Hudson-Odoi, or whether he feels threatened by Werner’s arrival in his position, it could prove difficult convincing him to stay on at Stamford Bridge.

When Anelka joined a Chelsea side in chaos following the departure of legendary coach Jose Mourinho, he was played out of position as first Avram Grant and then Luiz Felipe Scolari persisted with the 4-3-3 formation which had served Chelsea so well, with Anelka crowbarred in on the right wing. The Frenchman was able to play in his natural centre forward berth for much of the 2008/09 season, with Drogba missing 13 league matches through injury and suspension, and duly netted 19 goals to secure the Premier League golden boot. It took a brave man in Carlo Ancelotti to pair the clearly formidable Anelka and Drogba up front together – in a 4-4-2 diamond formation – and Chelsea went on to win the league title, scoring a league record 103 goals in the process, of which 29 were struck by Drogba and 11 by Anelka. So, will Lampard follow Ancelotti’s lead and play a centre forward duo next season?

How Chelsea could line up next season, with Tammy and Timo in a centre forward duo. Photo credit: LINEUP11

In the decade following Ancelotti’s tenure at the Bridge, the English game has noticeably moved away from 2 striker formations, with a lone striker and inverted wingers being preferred by almost every club in the league. In fact, this season only Everton (with Ancelotti at the helm), Burnley, Bournemouth and Brighton tend to play with two centre forwards regularly. It could be an option, however, if Lampard decides to pair Tammy and Werner together. The German has played in a centre forward duo in 25 of his 32 league games this term, often playing with Yussuf Poulson, the 6 foot 3 Danish international, or more recently Patrick Schick. Poulson is similar to Tammy in that they’re both the same height, and use their physical advantage to win aerial duels regularly, the difference being that Poulson is played in order to facilitate his more talented teammate. Should Tammy play alongside Werner, he could hold up the ball before linking with his teammate to deadly effect. The Poulson-Werner duo has worked remarkably well, with 31 league goals between them this season so far. Playing with a much more able partner in Tammy Abraham could push this goal output to extraordinary levels.

However, it is more likely that Werner will be direct competition to Tammy, or that he will play off his left, in a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 formation. This would allow the rapid German to cut inside from the wing either with the ball or to latch onto a defence splitting pass. Having previously been a solely counter-attacking option, he has improved his game to break down low-block defences under the tutelage of RB Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann. The young manager is keen to play a possession-based brand of football, with Leipzig averaging 53.7% of possession in the league this season (roughly the same as Chelsea’s 57%), forcing Werner to alter his game suitably. He now drops deeper to win possession before building up steam on a characteristic dribble or playing a quick pass, bypassing the opposition press. To demonstrate the changes made to his game we can look at his statistics: he has doubled his chance creation (key passes) numbers from 0.8 in 2017/18 to 1.6 per game this season and more than doubled his dribbles in the same time period from 0.8 to 1.8 per game. This makes Werner a more rounded threat than he was a couple of seasons ago, as he can add creativity and dynamic dribbles to his already superb finishing (his shot conversion rate is currently at 27.6% compared to the mighty Lewandowski’s 22.3%) and electric pace. Thanks to Nagelsmann’s input and Werner’s work ethic, Chelsea are buying one of the most complete forwards in Europe. 

How Chelsea could line up next season in Lampard’s preferred 4-2-3-1, with Timo cutting in from a wide left position. Photo credit: LINEUP11

Werner may occupy the opposite flank to Anelka naturally, cutting in off the left as opposed to Anelka’s favoured right, but given the two share similar skill sets it is easy to compare them. Anelka managed 10 assists in the 2009/10 campaign when paired with Drogba, whilst completing 1 key pass on average per match. Given Werner’s superior chance creation skills it is easy to see that the German could provide Tammy with a deluge of incredible chances. Abraham has demonstrated his phenomenal footballing intelligence this season, making incredible runs into dangerous areas, and so he is the perfect foil to Werner, latching onto his teammates pinpoint passes. However, the 22 year old has missed 17 big chances this season (most memorably against Liverpool in our 2-1 home defeat when one-on-one with Adrián), the third most in the league. With some finishing practise with the clinical Werner and goal-scoring icon Frank Lampard in training, Tammy could easily double his goal tally next season as he is driven on to greater heights by his illustrious teammate!

Timo Werner’s 2019/20 heat map illustrates his preference to cut in from the left wing, perhaps indicating that he’d be comfortable playing on the left wing at Chelsea. Photo credit: totalfootballanalysis.com

With two elite forwards pushing each other to be the best they can be, comparisons between Tammy and Timo with Anelka and Drogba are inevitable. Whilst Lampard must still convince Tammy to sign a new long-term deal, this partnership could be one of the greatest in Premier League history. A two centre forward formation could be bought back to facilitate the duo, but even if Chelsea line up with Tammy as a number 9 and Werner playing off his left – cutting in to create chances, making runs in behind the defence, and finish opportunities – we could still see this partnership blossom. With Hakim Ziyech also arriving to add to our wing options of Pulisic and Hudson-Odoi, Chelsea arguably have one of the best attacking units in Europe, and key to it will be the linkup between Tammy and Timo. With memories of the 2009/10 season fresh in Chelsea fan’s hearts, it is time to make room for a new attacking duo as we watch our new forwards tear up the league and hunt much sought after silverware for Chelsea!

Written by Daniel New

Scout Report: Ben Chilwell

Despite the news cycle currently revolving around the attacking options linked to Stamford Bridge (more specifically, German attacking options), it is evident that Chelsea have struggled defensively this season. While centre-backs who are an upgrade to our existing options are not available in the market in abundance, another position which has been suspect this season is the left-back. We are in luck in this regard, as several left backs such as Tagliafico (Ajax) and Telles (Porto) have all but confirmed their desire to leave their respective clubs. However, the player that continues to be linked with us is Leicester full-back Ben Chilwell, who is highly rated by one of the greatest LBs of the Premier League era, Ashley Cole. In fact, he has publicly claimed that he would love Chilwell at Chelsea. To add to this, Chilwell has also publicly stated that Ashley Cole was his idol growing up. It looks like a match made in heaven; a question of when and not if. The only roadblock in what otherwise seems like a smooth sailing move for all parties involved is the massive fee which his club will command- reports emerging that Leicester would be unwilling to part ways with him unless they receive a fee around the whereabouts of 80 million pounds, which Manchester United paid for Harry Maguire a year prior. But, who is Ben Chilwell and what are his strengths? And is he really an upgrade on our current options? Is he better than Telles and Tagliafico who are available for a significantly lesser fee? Let’s find out.

I think he’s quality and I’ve heard he’s a Chelsea fan, too, so I would like to see him here.

– Ashley Cole on Chilwell in December 2019. Source- Talksport

Benjamin James Chilwell is a product of the Leicester City youth academy, and was awarded the academy player of the year in 2015. He got his first taste of Premier League action under ex-Chelsea boss Claudio Ranieri, and hasn’t looked back since, going from Fuchs’ understudy to replacing him entirely in a short span of two years. The 23-year-old’s stellar rise to the top has been commendable, and is a driving force behind Leicester’s impressive season as they sit third in the table. Despite his tender age, he is just five Premier League appearances shy of hitting the 100 mark. Chilwell has also cemented his spot as the first choice left-back for the England national team.

Style of play

Ben Chilwell, in short is a well-balanced full-back. He has contributed to two goals and four assists in all competitions this season, which is a reasonable figure for a left-back, particularly one who is not on set piece duty. Apart from this, Leicester rely more on the dynamic duo of Jamie Vardy and James Maddison for attacking threat, hence excluding Chilwell from playing in a very advanced position. His best performance of the season was in the 9-0 drubbing of Southampton, where he grabbed a goal and two assists. Chilwell also scored against us in the 2-2 draw at the King Power Stadium, which could turn into a bittersweet moment for him if the move to the opponents of that game materialises.

Source- Football Slices

As we can infer from the above graph, he completes 0.83 dribbles per game with a 36% success rate, and attempts about 61.7 passes per game with a completion rate of 78.3%; however, he completes just 69% of his passes in the opposition box. He gets dispossessed 1.4 times per game, controls the ball poorly 1.9 times per game, and concedes possession 21.7 times per game. His cross completion rate stands at 19% and he whips in just 0.7 crosses per game, which is a very low figure for the full back of a top side. For the purpose of comparison, Alexander-Arnold accurately completes 2.3 crosses per game, while Reece James completes 1.1 crosses per game, and Emerson stands at 0.9 (to level the playing field- Trent is on another level).

Moving on to the defensive aspects, Chilwell wins 1.6 tackles per game, with a 58% success rate. He makes 1.1 interceptions and 2 clearances per game. He also gets dribbled past one time per game, and has committed two errors leading to shots, none leading to goals. On an average, Chilwell wins 46% of his ground duels, and 61% of his aerial duels, which is impressive. The following image shows his heat map for the season, and we can establish that he is all over the left hand side of the pitch, signifying his intent to gradually advance with the attack.

Comparison

If we do compare our current options, Alonso and Emerson, to Chilwell, we can derive the following conclusions-

  • Alonso evidently leads in the attacking aspects of the game such as goals and shots per game due to his advanced positioning.
  • Emerson leads in the number of dribbles completed per game
  • Emerson also concedes possession the least number of times, and has the fewest bad touches per game while also getting dispossessed fewer times than Alonso and Chilwell
  • Chilwell leads in the defensive aspects of the game, attempting more tackles while also boasting the highest tackle success rate. He also leads in clearances and aerial duels won.
  • Interestingly, Emerson boasts the highest duel winning percentage, with 68%. He also gets dribbled past significantly lesser than the other two options (0.4; for comparison Chilwell- 1 and Alonso- 1.1)
  • Chilwell has the lowest passing as well as crossing accuracy among the three.

The players linked to the club have not been taken into consideration. For in depth analysis of Tagliafico, click here.

Credit- Talksport

Verdict

Despite Emerson seeming the best option, it is interesting to note that these are merely per 90 statistics. He does have a long injury history, and keeping him fit for a consistent period of time could be a challenge. Alonso is very poor defensively. Hence, Chilwell is a stable and balanced option when compared to both. However, the fee Leicester are reportedly demanding is an exorbitant figure, and could hence prevent this transfer from going through. With cheaper alternatives available on the market, Chelsea could pressurise the club to sell for a lower fee. Even if the Englishman commands a slightly higher fee to these alternatives, he boasts invaluable Premier League experience, and could be worth the extra chunk. Despite the naked eye and statistics painting a picture not favouring Chilwell, Lampard and Cole seem to admire him. And as former professional footballers, I am certain they have a better understanding than us, and it is our job to back their choices.

Chelsea already have Jorginho’s ready-made replacement within their ranks

It looks like Chelsea mean business when it comes to incomings this summer. So far they have acquired Hakim Ziyech from Ajax and have an agreement to sign RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner. But, Chelsea manager Frank Lampard will have to balance it both ways where he will have some big decisions to make during this period, particularly potential outgoings.

One judgement he will have to make is whether or not Jorginho has a future at the club. There have been question marks on his ability and if he is capable of matching the Premier League’s high-intensity play.

Since arriving at Stamford Bridge in the summer of 2018, the Italian international has made a fairly decent impression – only in his second year at the club. Of course, he was an essential cog of former Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri’s plans as he tried to implement his football philosophy last campaign.

However, having experienced two full years of football at Chelsea, the 28-year-old at times has looked vulnerable in the defensive phase of the game. Nevertheless, he has been part of a strong midfield at the club this season, forming a strong partnership with Matteo Kovacic in the double pivot.

But, Lampard will not be wanting to go into the transfer market if Jorginho were to leave the club as other positions that need addressing – defence being one of them. As predicted, there have been links with the midfielder and a reunion with Sarri at Juventus, which would be a third spell under the Italian.

Before football took an immediate stop in March because of COVID-19, one player, in particular, suffered the most after impressing in Chelsea’s last two matches. Billy Gilmour was exceptional against Liverpool and Everton where he received the man of the match in both games. Most people suggested that the Scot was ready for more game time during next season. However, if he were given assurances of more minutes on the pitch, Jorginho should be fearing the worst as Gilmour is seen as the long-term solution in the central of midfield.

How Does Gilmour Compare to Jorginho?

Lampard will know he can call upon youth once more after giving the likes of Reece James, Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount first-team opportunities this season. Gilmour is amongst that list and is the next academy player who is seen as a future Chelsea star. Lampard, a former Chelsea midfielder himself has already suggested that Gilmour can well play in the position that Jorginho occupies. The Italian has certainly adopted that position as his own this season for the Blues.

Similar to the 28-year-old, the Scot is steady playing with the ball, having an eye for a killer pass, awareness of space when receiving the ball and spraying the best pass possible. He’s able to do all this while showing work-rate and determination in the centre of midfield.

At 18, Gilmour has burst onto the scene at a good age. He can integrate with the other youngsters that Chelsea has in abundance, given he is gifted with more opportunities in the first-team. If he is allowed to excel, Chelsea could see the young midfielder emulate Jorginho at club level. One of Jorginho’s best qualities is his ability to dictate the tempo of a match. From observing him closely in his two first-team starts, Gilmour has shown he is able to do just that, despite his young age.

Making a statement in first-team cameos

Although Gilmour is clearly a favourite of Lampard’s, his age and inexperience have meant that he has been slowly integrated into the side this season. When selected, he has shown bags of quality in Chelsea’s last two matches before the coronavirus pandemic halted the football calendar.

On average, Gilmour has a tenacious element to his game with 1.2 tackles and 0.5 interceptions per 90 minutes. Granted he has only featured in a couple of matches, but when he has played, this will increase with experience and game time.

His best attribute is his passing ability. Similar to his Chelsea colleague Jorginho, Gilmour plays the right pass and averages 82.7 passes every 90 minutes in the Premier League. Statistics that nearly match Chelsea’s player of the season so far in Mateo Kovacic’s 83.4.

Verdict

If the club decides to cash in on their vice-captain, it would be sensible to buy an experienced replacement. But, Gilmour could easily be the man to play that role and make it his own for the foreseeable future at Stamford Bridge.

Ahead of him lies a world of possibilities and a permanent starting spot in Frank Lampard’s midfield as part of the youth revolution at the club. He will have to be patient as the club has many outstanding midfielders at the club. If Gilmour continues remains focussed on his development, whilst showing the right attitude in training, Lampard will utilise his attributes to good effect. Right now, Chelsea have a brilliant midfielder in their ranks, and his manager will be hoping he can emulate past and previous midfielders at the club.

Who is generational talent Kai Havertz, and why should Chelsea go all out to sign him?

For months, the talk surrounding football has largely been of the huge effect that the current global pandemic will have on the market. Supposedly even the biggest teams would have to scale back on their usual splurges, forced to be stingy by the potential loss of broadcasting revenue as well as the lack of any match day income. In total, Deloitte have predicted Premier League sides alone could lose up to £1 billion over two seasons as a result of the pandemic. However, it seems like one owner didn’t get the memo. Having stolen Timo Werner from underneath Liverpool’s nose by activating his £53 million release clause when the Reds were unable to, it seems that Roman Abramovich could attempt to prise away another of Liverpool’s supposed targets, and one of the Bundesliga’s brightest talents in Kai Havertz. This spending spree, which will also probably include a left back in either Ben Chilwell or Nicolás Tagliafico, in a time where other clubs are faltering, could set up Chelsea to be a force to be reckoned with over the next 5-10 years. And Havertz could be the star.

Photo credit: 90Min

The return of elite football arrived earlier in Germany than the rest of Europe, causing a new audience to flock to watch the Bundesliga in search of their football fix. With the spotlight seemingly firmly fixed on Jadon Sancho, Erling Haaland and Robert Lewandowski as Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich fought for the title, it was Kai Havertz who stole it. He has long attracted interest from European powerhouses, with Liverpool and Bayern Munich seemingly chief amongst them, but his back-to-back braces in the opening two games following the forced break in the season showcased his talents on a much larger scale, perhaps prompting Abramovich to amp up his pursuit of him.

Before we dive into the youngster’s incredible stats, it is worth discussing his personality. When making a big money move to the Premier League, having a strong mentality is essential. As the British media wait for you to slip up spectacularly, you have to shut out the outside world and hit the ground running. Despite still being 20 years old, Havertz is in his 4th season of regular game time at Bayer Leverkusen. Making his Bundesliga debut at the age of just 17 years and 126 days old (at the time making him the club’s youngest ever league debutant), he has shown remarkable mental strength to earn his place and keep it from such a young age and with such media attention focussed on him. More impressive still is the fact that he has led Leverkusen as captain on 5 occasions this season in the absence of club captain Lars Bender, going further towards proving that he truly is an old head on young shoulders.

Photo credit: Metro

However, the most encouraging aspect of Havertz’s mental make-up is his ability to keep going in the face of adversity. He came into this season with the pressure of having to follow up a 17 goal haul in 2018/19 (with 4 assists to his name as well, despite him playing as a midfielder/winger), and initially struggled. In fact, he only netted twice between the start of the season and 2020, with those goals coming across 14 league starts. The media scrutiny that follows a superb breakthrough season looked to be getting to him, but the German persisted and has dramatically turned his form around. Having scored in the first game back after the winter break, he has amassed a huge 9 goals and 4 assists in 12 appearances so far in 2020, making him the Bundesliga’s third top scorer since the turn of the year, behind only Lewandowski and Haaland! It is clear that Havertz can handle the burden of huge expectation, which will be vital if he is to join Chelsea in a big money move. So, he can handle the psychological aspect of the game, but how is he with the ball at his feet?

Not only is Havertz’s goal contribution haul impressive –  he has bagged 11 goals and 5 assists in 26 league appearances to date – but look closer at his underlying numbers and you will understand that his current red-hot form is no fluke. He is the fulcrum of all Leverkusen’s play; whether he is playing as a false 9, a right winger or as an attacking midfielder, and has been a crucial component of one of Germany’s most exciting offensive forces. His 2.1 chances created per league game rank him 9th in the league, and are only 0.2 fewer than Jadon Sancho, who has 11 more assists than Havertz. This implies that in a more clinical team, the German would be racking up huge assists numbers. The potential of seeing him play with the deadly Werner (who has netted 25 league goals this campaign so far), therefore, is mind-blowing for all Chelsea fans!

On top of being an elite chance creator, Havertz is also excellent at ball progression. Wherever he is playing, he will always drop deep in search of the ball and then force his team up the pitch, with his average of 46 passes per game (at an 86% completion rate) very high for an attacking player. For context, his teammate and usually the man who plays on the opposite wing to him, Moussa Diaby, makes only 20 passes per game, and the highly involved Sancho manages 48. His 2 completed dribbles every match also make for impressive reading, and are more than both Willian and Hudson-Odoi (our right wing options this term) currently average. He is also a player who will constantly make defences uncomfortable, as he naturally drifts between the defensive lines, willing to receive the ball all over the pitch, with his marker unsure of whether to be drawn out of position and follow him (opening up space behind the defensive lines for pacy players like Werner or Hudson-Odoi to exploit) or to sit back and allow Havertz to work his magic. He has the ability to take a touch and make a sensational cross-field pass, or beat his man before feeding a teammate or going alone. With such incredible match intelligence at only 20, Havertz’s potential truly is incredible.

Another facet to Havertz’s game is his aerial presence. Standing at around 6 foot 2 inches (or 1.89m) tall, he boasts a physical advantage on many central defenders, and is only 2cm shorter than Tammy Abraham. This allows him to win 1.4 aerial duels per game, behind only Abraham and Giroud (on 3.2 and 2.9 respectively) for non-defenders in the Chelsea squad. His aerial prowess has helped him bag 2 headed goals this season, the same figure as Tammy, despite only making 7 appearances as a number 9. His physique should cause opposition defenders all kinds of problems, as he is a threat from set pieces and he can hold up the ball well, which is vital in a relatively short squad (the 7th shortest in the league). He also happens to be left-footed, something none of our wingers are, and therefore could play on the right wing and cut in should Lampard require it, a trait which makes him even more desirable to the Chelsea board.

Photo credit: talkSPORT

So Havertz is a brilliant creator, a fantastic dribbler and a threat in the air, but what are his areas of weakness? Well, one aspect of his game that he could easily improve on is his shot volume: as he has managed only 1.9 shots per game this season, the 25th most in the Bundesliga. Part of the reason his average shots per game are low is that he has only recently started playing as a false 9, but even as an attacking midfielder I would expect him to get off more efforts at goal every game. For example, Mason Mount – in his first season of Premier League football – has made 2.3 attempts on goal per game as an attacking midfielder, and should continue to improve on that as he gets older. If Havertz can take more shots per game, it is only logical that more goals should follow. He is also quite regularly dispossessed, at an average rate of 2.7 times a game, which would rank joint top in the Chelsea squad with Pulisic. However, this could be because most of Leverkusen’s attacking moves go through him, and so he is bound to make a few mistakes when he is constantly trying to force openings for his team.

Having seen a breakdown of his game, we know that Havertz is a star and has huge scope to improve at only 20 years of age. Put simply, he could become a truly elite player in the future. What might concern a lot of Chelsea fans, however, is where he will fit in. With Ziyech and Werner (hopefully) due to arrive this summer, and Ruben Loftus-Cheek coming back from his lengthy injury lay-off, the competition for places will be monumental, which could push the squad on as a whole, but could also lead to some significant player departures.

The German international is capable of playing a number of roles, with his versatility another reason why he is sought after by so many sides. He is able to play as: a free number eight in a 4-3-3 (similar to how Mount plays when in central midfield), a central attacking midfielder in the hole behind the striker, a right winger, or as a centre forward. Such versatility should offset any worries about him keeping any particular player out, as Frank can move him around regularly as Peter Bosz has done this season at Leverkusen. With Ziyech and Hudson-Odoi both capable of playing on the right wing, the ideal place to play Havertz would be as a number 10 in a 4-2-3-1 behind Tammy and with Werner cutting in from the left wing. This would be a devastating attacking unit, arguably one of Europe’s best, and would make the most of Havertz’s creativity, ball progression and finishing (as he can arrive late in the box to tuck shots away).

Photo credit: talkSPORT

However, if Lampard opts for a 4-3-3, as he has tended to do this season, Havertz would be more than able to play as a number 8, perhaps with two more stable central midfielders beside him allowing him to push forwards (perhaps N’Golo Kanté and Mateo Kovačić). The possibility of a 2 striker formation has also been thrown about recently, and is something that could prove really exciting. Should we play a 4-4-2 with Tammy and Werner spearheading the attack, Havertz could possibly be paired in a midfield pivot with the ridiculous defensive shield that is N’Golo Kanté, which would allow him to get forwards regularly. Such squad selection headaches can only be a good thing for Frank Lampard, who wants his players to fight for their places, which will improve the long-standing issue of mentality and motivation in the Chelsea dressing room. We must also assume that the board are backing Frank Lampard as part of a 3 year plan (as per The Athletic) in which Chelsea are winning major honours by the conclusion of the 2022/23 season, and if Lampard has sought out Havertz and Werner, I am confident he knows exactly how he wants his side to lineup with them in next season.

Havertz has handled the pressure of being his club’s star man as a teenager, as well as being their captain, and his 59 goal contributions in 114 Bundesliga games before turning 21 is incredibly impressive. When we add in his mental toughness and ability to come back firing following a scoring drought, as well as his Champions League experience and 7 international caps for Germany (including a goal), it is clear that Havertz is a must buy. With other clubs seemingly incapable of meeting his rumoured €80-100 million valuation, Roman Abramovich could play on Havertz’s eagerness for a new challenge by being his sole realistic suitor this summer. If he manages to secure two of Europe’s most talented players in one window (not to mention Ziyech and a left back), Abramovich could create a dynasty which leads to years of Chelsea success!

Written by Daniel New

Who is Chelsea Target Nicolás Tagliafico, and why should we sign him?

With Leicester playing hard ball over a potential fee for Ben Chilwell, and Alex Telles flirting with PSG, it is conceivable that Chelsea could turn to Nicolás Tagliafico to take up the reigns as the long awaited heir to Ashley Cole’s left back slot. He would prove a price-effective option, with figures as low as £22.5 million being thrown around by sources including The Telegraph, and he has the quality and experience to be an extremely shrewd addition to Chelsea’s blossoming squad for the 2020/21 season. But how did he get to the where he is today, and what exactly will he bring to the team? That is what we will be exploring in this article.

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It has been a long journey to the top for the Argentinian, but one which has taught him important traits, photo credit: goal.com

It has been a long journey to the top for the Argentinian. Now one of the most coveted left backs in Europe, Tagliafico has not always been held in such high regard. Like most South American footballers, he dreamed of a move to Europe. However, unlike most who make the journey across the Atlantic, Tagliafico was made to wait until the age of 25 before getting his big move, as he swapped Argentinian outfit Independiente for Ajax in January 2018 for a mere £3.6 million. He had previously played on Europe shores, on loan for then Segunda División (Spain’s second tier) side Real Murcia in the 2012/13 season as they barely staved off relegation, making 27 appearances for the minnows before returning to home club CA Banfield. However, this harsh experience did not stop him from progressing in his career, as he made the move to Argentinian giants Independiente in 2015. He made 105 appearances for them, as he captained the side to the 2016/17 Copa Sudamericana, before Ajax saw his talent and brought him to the Netherlands. After such a meteoric rise from a middling Argentinian side to one of Europe’s most exciting teams, Tagliafico has shown he has the determination and desire to play at the top level, characteristics Chelsea should be looking for in potential recruits.

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Tagliafico has had to work tirelessly to climb up the footballing ladder, here he is with the Copa Sudamericana in 2017, having captained Independiente to glory, photo credit: TyC Sports

Turning 28 years old before the likely start of next season, Tagliafico does not seem to fit the general age profile of Frank Lampard’s side, with other rumoured interest Ben Chilwell a whole four years his junior. However, with the likes of Reece James, Fikayo Tomori, Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham regularly turning out for us, we could really do with someone of Tagliafico’s pedigree, someone who has big game experience and can guide his young teammates through critical parts of the season as we hunt for silverware. Part of the incredible Ajax team who stunned Europe by knocking out holders Real Madrid and a Cristiano Ronaldo led Juventus en-route to the Champions League semi-finals last season, he knows what it is like to be part of a run deep into European’s elite competition. He has been part of a title and domestic cup winning side as well, and so he has a winning mentality firmly instilled, something which he can ingrain into his teammates.

Tagliafico looks the perfect fit for a Premier League full back, as he is not only strong offensively but defensively as well. This season he has combined 7 goals and assists in 23 Eredivisie starts with a huge 4.2 tackles and interceptions per game, despite being part of an extremely possession dominant Ajax side, who average 60% of the ball every game. This means that when he does rarely find himself being ran at by opposition attackers, he regularly comes out on top. So not only is he a capable creator, he can also hold his own when faced by opposition forwards, something neither Emerson or Marcos Alonso at Chelsea can currently claim to do (averaging 2.9 and 3.1 respectively in the same metric). Unlike Marcos Alonso, who also has an exceptional attacking output, he does not require to be played as a wing back in a back five in order to excel, as he has played all of his league games this season as a left back in a back four. Unlike Conte, Lampard has shown a preference to playing four at the back so Tagliafico fits the system perfectly.

Averaging a key pass every game as well as completing 86% of his average of 53 passes every league game, Tagliafico has proven himself to be a strong distributor, with his number of passes and their accuracy superior to our current left back options. On top of his impressive tackles and interceptions, he also manages to make 2.1 clearances a game, and he regularly prevents opposition wingers from getting dangerous crosses into the box with 0.3 blocks a match. This may be an area of his game that he can build on further, as Chelsea concede a large proportion of our goals to crosses which are usually unclaimed by the hapless Kepa Arrizabalaga.

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Tagliafico’s 2018/19 heat map. As you can see, he spends a lot of his time in attacking positions, photo credit: Soccity

Despite being more defensively-minded than Marcos Alonso, Tagliafico is able to match the Spaniard’s 0.7 successful crosses per game, emphasising his ability to create opportunities whilst remaining positionally disciplined. From his heat map you can see that he occupies his opposition’s half more often that not, partly due to Ajax’s dominance in a relatively weak league, but also because he is always looking for the ball down the left flank, making overlapping runs to give Quincy Promes passing options in the wide channel. Now picture a potential left flank of Tagliafico and Timo Werner (who has all but been confirmed as a huge signing for the Blues’ this summer) next season, with the rapid German forward constantly running in behind defences and latching onto balls from Tagliafico, as well as the Argentinian making overlapping runs past Werner and whipping in crosses. The duo would be a terrifying prospect for even the best defences in Europe.

Amazingly the Eredivisie currently ranks as the 9th strongest league in Europe (somewhat unfairly placed behind the Russian and Belgian leagues), concerning many fans over how serious a prospect Tagliafico can be, due to the weak opposition he regularly faces. There are two reasons that this should not overly worry us. Firstly, the talent produced by the Dutch top tier is widely known to be incredible, with players such as Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong coming out of the league (and Ajax) last summer and holding their own in Serie A and La Liga respectively. Historically, many players have thrived outside of the Netherlands, with Luis Suarez and Arjen Robben also great examples of the Eredivisie’s extraordinary alumni. Let’s not forget that Hakim Ziyech will also he joining us this summer, and there is no doubting just how good a player he is: so why doubt Tagliafico? The second reason is that, like the aforementioned players, Tagliafico has put up excellent numbers in Europe’s premier competition. He has managed to bag a goal and an assist in this year’s Champions League to go with his haul of three goals last season, showing that he can produce going forwards against the very best. However, it is his defensive numbers which particularly stand out. He made an astronomical 7.5 tackles and interceptions in this year’s group stage as he helped an out of sorts Ajax keep 3 clean sheets in 6 games. This was no fluke, his 5.6 tackles and interceptions per game in last season’s European campaign coming against some of the best attacks in Europe, including the likes of Real Madrid and Juventus.

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Tagliafico has Champions League experience under his belt, photo credit: 90Min

Finally, with a very attacking focussed right flank lined up for next season, with Reece James and Hakim Ziyech looking like a tantalising prospect going forward, it might be worth having a solid defensive left back. Just like in Jose Mourinho’s first spell when he deployed William Gallas (a centre back by trade) as a very defensive full back to balance out the extremely advanced Paulo Ferreira at right back, we could use Tagliafico’s defensive reliability to even out James’ attacking instincts. It is also worth bearing in mind that Ziyech and Tagliafico often link up at Ajax and spray long, cross-field balls to each other as they look to break down opposition defences, and so we could see the exciting duo get back together at Stamford Bridge next season.

In summary, it looks like we may be prioritising signing Chilwell at left back this summer, and Tagliafico might even be the board’s third choice (behind Telles of Porto as well). However, the Argentinian is the strongest defensively of the trio by far, he fits naturally into a flat back four, he has excelled in the Champions League for a couple of season’s now and would bring a winning mentality and vast experience with him to a young squad. Throw in his 25 caps for Argentina, his previous position as club captain at Independiente and his experience playing in the World Cup and Copa America and signing him becomes a no-brainer! An absolute bargain (at potentially just £22.5 million), he is the cheapest option available and we could do much worse than to secure his services this summer. It has been a very long journey to the top indeed for Tagliafico, but it is not over yet. Will the next stage in his voyage take him to Stamford Bridge?

Written by Daniel New 

Scouting Report/Analysis: Timo Werner – Part 1

The last 24 hours has certainly been a very entertaining one for every Chelsea fan, with talks with Timo Werner advancing so much that he has agreed to join Chelsea.

In this article, I will be at first looking at his qualities as a footballer. In Part 2, I will talk about his role in the Chelsea team and how he compares to his future teammates.

Player Review

The 24 year old is versatile in the attacking third, and definitely one of the main reasons why Lampard would have kept an eye on the German. Lampard has asked for more creativity and clinicality in his front three, and Chelsea fans thought that Hakim Ziyech was the main man for this job. However, we did not know whether Frank had plans to play the Morrocan either as an advanced midfielder or on the wing, but the signing of Timo Werner only suggests that we will have both creativity through the middle and out wide!

The latest rumours before the German signing certainly suggested that the Manager’s priorities were a Left-Back, a Striker and a Winger. Linked players such as Mertens, Aubameyang and Werner all have one attribute in common – they can play through the middle and both on the wing. Signing Timo kills two birds with one stone, and also saves us a lot of money from spending on another winger.

As you can see on the heat map above, Werner does like to drift a lot during the game and doesn’t necessarily stick to his position. Although he starts as an out and out striker most of the time, often he is playing almost as a second striker and drifts in from the left next to Poulsen. This is something which we could possibly see with Tammy Abraham, but I’ll go into that later in Part 2. Until then, since we’ve got his position out of the way, let’s actually get into his qualities…

Pace. That’s certainly one of his best qualities. His arrival in the Premier League would definitely make him one of the quickest players in the division. His acceleration and sprint speed allows him to easily glide past players after hitting it well in front of him.

With his pace, comes his dribbling. Being extremely quick and having strong dribbling abilities, should arguably be illegal. He can turn around in tight spaces and quickly shift into another direction. If Werner sees the chance to drive forward, expect him to knock it and simply run past the defender and receive the ball on the other side. Like ex-Chelsea winger Eden Hazard (that was hard to write), he has a strong backside and is able to hold off players. Werner’s combination of lightning pace and dribbling qualities often gives him the choice to go around the keeper on 1v1’s, something which we will see in the future when he is in Blue.

Another similarity to the Belgian forward is their style of shots. I like to say that the best players have one trait which no matter how hard the defenders try, they still are unable to stop. Werner certainly has his own – cut inside and shoot into the far corner. Defenders may know that Werner likes to cut inside on his right foot, but there’s absolutely nothing they can do about it most of the time, as the sharp turn leaves the fullback dumbfounded and as they try and tackle the German, the ball will already be in the back of the net.

However, even if the defender fully halts in coming inside, it still doesn’t stop Timo from driving forward. The 24 year old has a very strong left foot and if he sees no opportunity on the right hand side, he just shifts the ball to the left side and try and drive a low cross in the box for the Striker to score. All in all, it’s just a nightmare for the opposition fullback.

Talking of shooting, this could be the second best thing about the forward. He scores goals. According to understat.com, his xG this season is 21.30 in 29 appearances. This clearly shows his strong movement on the pitch and he is able to pick up positions giving him the best of chance to score. In fact, he has scored 25 goals for RB Leipzig so far this season, overperforming by 3.70 goals. To simplify things – he’s scoring the harder chances, and is being very clinical.

His playmaking abilities is not to be missed either. His xA is 8.64, and for someone who isn’t playing through the middle but instead more of a free role, this is very impressive. Furthermore, in the Bundesliga, he ranks 8th in terms of Shot Creating Actions, with a total score of 99. Although most of the comparison is later in Part 2, and the Bundesliga defensively is much weaker than the Premier League, his score of 99 would rank 1st in the Chelsea squad, joint with Willian, and 7th in the whole of the English League.

He scores and creates. Exactly what Frank wanted, needed, and got.

What do you think of Timo Werner? Make sure to let us know on all our social media platforms!

Written by Paree

Federico Chiesa: Scout Report

Fiorentina winger Federico Chiesa has been one of the latest players to be linked with Chelsea over the last few days. But who exactly is the young Italian and what would he bring to Frank Lampards squad?

Son of former Italian and Fiorentina forward Enrico Chiesa, Federico made his Fiorentina debut in 2016 in a 2-1 defeat to Juventus and has since gone on to make 123 appearances for the Florence club scoring 21 goals. He’s played at every Italian national team level and has 17 senior caps to his name with 1 goal.

image by bleacherreport.com

Regarded by many in his native Italy as a promising young prospect, Chiesa is talented, fast, skillful, and hardworking. With good technique, a short stature, and a slender build he certainly has taken after his father.

At only 22 years of age, he’s one of the best young prospects around the world, and fits right into the style which Frank would be looking for- young, and of great technical ability.

He usually plays as a right winger who can also play on the left which would help fill the gaps left in the squad from the likely departures of Willian and Pedro. Besides both wings, he has played in several central positions, most frequently as either an attacking midfielder or a second striker.

This versatility will certainly be helpful to Lampard’s squad as not only does it give him even more options in the attacking area, it makes him a very obvious Pulisic replacement if the American was to be injured.

Chelsea have lacked in some games with creativity, and although our new signing Ziyech aids this concern, Chiesa definitely wouldn’t be a bad option to add.

In addition to his primary duties in attack, he often contributes to the defensive play by chasing the opposition’s wingers down the flank to win back possession, and has been deployed occasionally as a right wing back in a 3–5–2 formation.

There is no doubt that Willian and Pedro do a lot of defensive work, and with it looking likely that both players will leave the club, a winger with a defensive mindset could be required – especially with Hudson-Odoi, Pulisic and Ziyech preferring to attack.

Image Source: Getty Images

Him being able to play as a wing back in a 3 at the back formation certainly helps too, with James struggling at times in the RWB role and sometimes cutting in too much. Whereas, Chiesa would be able to stay out wide as much as possible and get in behind.

However, the transfer certainly is one which looks unlikely. Although he may fit the profile of what we’re looking for, any links right now should most likely be discarded due to the whole club being unaware of their financial situation due to the Coronavirus. Furthermore, if a winger was to come, you would expect Lampard to be demanding Sancho, or for the club to possibly exercise Boga’s buy back clause.

With Lampard in need of a winger, or two, and tending in some games to play with three at the back Chiesa could be a versitile addition to the squad for the right price.

Scout Report: Dries Mertens

Following Tammy Abraham’s injury and subsequent dip in form around the turn of the year, Chelsea were left in a very difficult situation: Frank Lampard was forced to pick between two centre forwards severely lacking in game time and match sharpness.

The first to be given a run out was Michy Batshuayi. The Belgian striker has long been seen as an impact substitute, with his 5 league goals in the 2016/17 season coming at a rate of one every 47 minutes! However, Michy had a nightmare in our 2-0 home defeat to Manchester United, missing two straightforward chances, and he looked completely shorn of confidence.

Lampard then turned to his World Cup winning forward, Olivier Giroud, to fill in up front, and he did not disappoint. Fantastic strikes against Tottenham and Everton left him with 2 goals from a run of 3 consecutive league starts. His excellent holding up of the ball and link up play has been evident whenever he has played this season, but at 33 years of age and with limited game time since joining the club, Giroud was rumoured to be wanting a move this summer, with Inter Milan and Lazio interested. Reports have recently suggested that he has agreed to a one year contract extension with the Blues, but whether Giroud stays or goes, it is clear that his team mate Batshuayi is not of the quality to play for Chelsea and should be moved on if a suitor can be found in the window. This would leave a gap for a striker at the club, and in my eyes it is clear who we must bring in.

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Photo credit: Daily Express

Receiving the ball outside the area, Dries Mertens took two touches to get it out of his feet and then curl it past Marc-Andre ter Stegen to put Napoli ahead against Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League last 16 tie, his sixth goal from six starts in the competition. At 32 years old the Belgian clearly still has plenty to offer, with his 10 goal contributions in 21 Serie A appearances (only 12 have been starts) further proving the quality he still possesses. A versatile forward, Mertens can play as a centre forward, a left winger or as a second striker, meaning that he can plug several holes in the Chelsea front line.

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Photo credit: maltatoday.com.mt

Amazingly Napoli have allowed him to run down his contract such that he is free to leave this summer, a situation which must have most of the top clubs in Europe interested. Clearly a strong finisher, with shooting from outside the box one of his strengths, Mertens is also very creative and has made an average of 1.8 key passes per Serie A game. On top of these traits he is a strong tackler and is good at tracking back and winning possession. So far it seems that Mertens would be the perfect fit, so why have Chelsea been unable to tie him down to a deal? Heavily linked with a move to Stamford Bridge in January, the Belgian decided to stay in Naples in order to beat Hamšík’s club record for goals scored (121 in all competitions). Thanks to his curled against Barcelona after the window closed, Mertens was able to draw level with the Slovakian midfielder’s tally, but has been unable to better it given the indefinite halt to the season caused by the corona virus pandemic. How big a problem will this be in securing his signature? If Serie A is able to continue then Mertens should secure the goal record outright, but if the Italian league goes the way of the Eredivisie and Ligue 1 in cancelling the season, then how big a stumbling block will that prove to be? There is no way for us to be sure but supposedly Lampard has kept in contact with his target, with ‘almost daily’ phone calls (according to Italian transfer expert Vincenzo Morabito), which should offer Blues’ fans some encouragement.

Given Mertens’ goal scoring record, creativity, versatility and his availability on a free this summer, Chelsea must make sure they get his signature, and quickly, as a player of his quality will have plenty of suitors. The Belgian will not necessarily have to play second fiddle to Abraham, because if Lampard deployed a 4-2-3-1 formation then Mertens would be an excellent pick in the central attacking midfielder role, where his impressive creativity would come to the fore and he could arrive late in the box to finish off moves. Alternatively, Lampard could play Mertens as a second striker in games against low blocks: Tammy’s excellent link up play and the Napoli man’s trickery could prove to be the solution to Frank’s nightmare of breaking down stingy defences. Even if he is a back up centre forward or winger, he would be extremely dangerous off the bench, with his pace a nightmare for tiring defenders. The experience that he would bring to a youthful dressing room could also be crucial, as he could prove to be a role model for his younger team mates. Signing Mertens would be an excellent bit of business for Chelsea and one which the fans’ are begging for. Whenever the new season starts, with Mertens in our ranks, Chelsea will be a much more well-rounded squad, ready to push on and improve.

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Photo credit: The Independent


Written by Daniel New 

Dwight McNeil – an alternative solution to Chelsea’s left back problem

The general consensus amongst Chelsea fans is that left back is a priority position to improve come the summer, but there is a lack of standout options in the market. Ben Chilwell is thought to be Frank Lampard’s priority signing, but his late season form and the extortionate price tag it would command makes him a much less attractive proposition. Alternatives such as Alex Telles and Alejandro Grimaldo are also very unknown entities, and despite their undoubted technical ability there’s a very big question as to whether or not they could succeed in the Premier League. The lack of clear solutions on the market prompted me to look outside the box for alternative options – up steps Burnley’s Dwight McNeil.

A standout performance of McNeil’s showing his offensive creative ability and his defensive potential. Source – Squawka

McNeil plays as a very traditional left midfielder for Sean Dyche’s Burnley side, focusing his game largely on beating his man and crossing the ball. The player’s talent is clear to see, and at just 20 years old he is clearly a level above his teammates from a technical point of view. He has the talent to play for a top team in the future, but his game doesn’t suit that of a modern winger, especially for a top side. Instead, if McNeil is to make it at the top level, he needs to become a left back.

McNeil’s strengths very much suit that of a modern-day fullback. He’s very tidy in possession and is rarely dispossessed, lending his skillset nicely to a side who like to keep hold of the ball. Being good in possession is crucial for a left back at a top side because the defence needs to be able to control the ball when playing out from the back, especially coming up against an aggressive pressing side like Liverpool when the defenders are put under a lot of pressure, big games like this are where McNeil’s press resistance would be very useful. 

Another strength of McNeil’s is his dribbling, completing 2.17 per 90, better than 96% of fullback’s in Europe’s top 5 leagues (according to “Organized Chaos”). Dribbling as a fullback is a huge strength, and it’s a big part of why Alphonso Davies has been such a success as a left back. When Chelsea came up against Davies his dribbling ability was a big part of his game as he dominated our right-hand side, McNeil could look to replicate this and have the same dominating effect as a left back. 

This combination of dribbling and being good in possession means that McNeil as a left back would be a great outlet for ball progression, especially when you consider the long cross-field ball he loves. Having players able to progress the ball from defence to midfield and then further forward into the attack is crucial for a big side. It makes it a lot harder just to man-mark the key man and limit a team’s entire game plan, like we’ve seen in the past with Jorginho getting marked out of a game. Having Reece James and Dwight McNeil at full back as options to progress the ball as well as the whole midfield would make moving up the field light work for Chelsea.

The biggest strength of McNeil though, is his crossing. His delivery from crosses is phenomenal boasting a 27.46% completion rate, comparable to the 20.77% of Trent Alexander-Arnold, 19.79% of Andy Robertson and 24.04% of Reece James (again courtesy of Organized Chaos). Stats never show the full story with crossing though, but from watching the player it’s clear that his crossing is a huge strength. He’s a left footed dead ball specialist, can hit the low driven square ball across the box, the high loopy cross and the more aggressive whipped cross. Reece James has shown us this season the benefits of a fullback who can cross, having someone like McNeil on the other side would make us so much more dangerous offensively. 

However, there is obviously a lot more to life as a fullback than just the offensive ability, and this is where the biggest questions lie with McNeil, but playing as a left midfielder for Burnley is a much more defensive role than the majority of wingers have to play, and that defensive nous will have developed a lot already. He also havs the physical traits to do the defensive work of a fullback, standing at 183cm (according to whoscored) he’s tall enough to win aerial duels an defend balls over the top and crosses into the box. Positionally there will need to be work done, but at 20 years old there is a lot of time to learn and he’s at an age where he can be easily moulded and will pick things up quickly, just as Bukayo Saka and Alphonso Davies have done to great effect this season already. Fortunately, he’s not a slouch either, so whilst he’s still learning the positioning he should have sufficient recovery pace to bail himself out of the mistakes he makes early on.

Source – Lancs Live

Moving McNeil to left back would be a very bold move from the club, but one I believe they would reap the rewards of long term. An excellent crosser of the ball, who is tidy in possession and can beat a man, and with more defensive work in training could train his already developed defensive abilities to become a very complete fullback. In my opinion, Dwight McNeil will never become a top winger, but as a fullback he could go a very long way. 

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Who is £30M Chelsea target Gabriel Magalhaes?

Reports have begun to circulate that Chelsea have entered the race for £30M rated defender Gabriel Magalhaes, who has apparently also attracted interest from Everton. Most Blues fans probably won’t be overly familiar with the centre-back, so why is he so sought after?

Player Profile

Magalhaes is a left footed centre-half who has plied his trade this season in France, with LOSC Lille. He featured at the back when the French outfit took on Chelsea in the Champions League group stage matches earlier this season, starting both games and impressed as Chelsea struggled, at times, to break down Lille’s backline.

The Brazilian signed for Lille 3 years ago, in January 2017, for a small fee of just £1.5M. He then went out on two loan spells to Troyes followed by a switch to Dinamo Zagreb, but he only managed a single league appearance for each club.

This season, however, Magalhaes has solidified his position as a key player in Lille’s backline. The 6’3” defender has made 24 appearances in Ligue 1 in 19/20. His side have conceded just 27 goals in 28 games and the Brazilian has been attracting the attention of a host of top European clubs.

In the last month of the Ligue 1 season, Lille conceded just 0.33 goals per game and lost just one match – the only game Gabriel Magalhaes missed. (Credit to Sky Sports for this stat)

(Image Source: 101 Great Goals)

He has been noted for his ability on the ball, having completed more forward passes than any other Lille player this season. He’s also completed 243 ‘long passes’ into the opposition half, making him a useful asset to a Chelsea side who look to break quickly. Gabriel Magalhaes has only recently renewed his Lille contract until 2023 and has been quoted saying “I have my head in Lille” However, a move to the Premier League may be hard for the player to turn down.

“I have my head in Lille, I’m very calm to finish the season well and to achieve great things next season”

Gabriel Magalhaes to Globo Esporte

We know Chelsea are hot on the tail of Bournemouth’s Nathan Akè, but could Magalhaes be an alternative option for a left-sided centre-half? We’ll have to wait and see if and when the summer transfer window takes place, but it may be worth jumping on YouTube and finding a Gabriel Magalhaes montage in the meantime.

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