Can Marc Guehi Break Into The Senior Team Next Season?

With the imminent departure of Fikayo Tomori from Chelsea, the lack of young defenders from the academy ready for first team football is sparse. The likes of Xavier Mbuyamba and Dynel Simeu have been proven at the U23 level, however their lack of first team football and senior experience greatly reduces their chance at featuring for the first team in any capacity. Chelsea have four centre backs in the senior squad for now and the formation we are now playing in seems to include three centre backs. Azpilicueta has been featuring in the right centre back role, which sums up how much Tuchel trusts his centre backs to do a job. A player with experience at a fairly high level and with bundles of talent could be the spark needed to encourage performances to improve.

Marc Guehi fits the spectrum of this kind of player perfectly. The 20 year old is currently on loan to Swansea, who impressively sit 3rd place in the Sky Bet Championship. This season Marc has played 25 times for Swansea in the league (starting all of these 25 matches). Helping the Swans to 12 clean sheets as of this moment. Guehi has also amassed 1.7 interceptions per game, 1.8 tackles per game and 2.8 clearances per game. The Englishman is unlike the other loanees from Chelsea in the championship regarding minutes. Compared to Jake Clarke-Salter, who is also on loan in the Championship with Birmingham, Guehi has played over 1600 minutes more. Guehi only featured twice for the senior blues before his move and he started and played 90 minutes in both of these appearances. Although these games were in the EFL Cup last year, he proved he could perform at the highest level as he played admirably against Manchester United in a controversial 2-1 loss at Stamford Bridge.

Guehi is on the shorter side of centre backs in comparison to the rest of the Championship and for most leagues in general. Standing at around 5″10, Marc definitely is not known for his size and aerial abilities. However, for what he lacks in height he certainly makes up for it in speed, anticipation and versatility. His concentration and awareness are main parts of his game and severely outweigh his lack of aerial dominance.

Marc’s tactical versatility and ability to play anywhere across the backline could be of massive benefit to Chelsea. At just 20 years old, the range of different positions Guehi has featured in throughout his career is astounding. This season, Guehi has been featuring mainly as a left sided centre back in a 3 at the back formation. This is impressive as Guehi feels comfortable and is trusted enough on the left side of the defence, despite being right footed. Being able to play a wide variety of positions is useful to everyone and proves that he has the ability to play right at the top level.

At Swansea, Marc is being managed by Steve Cooper. Steve was Guehi’s manager for the infamous England U17 World Cup winning team in 2017. Cooper has a great understanding of Guehi’s ability and puts a lot of trust in these skills. Guehi also scored the final goal in a 5-2 drubbing of Spain’s U17 in the final to secure the trophy.

Having played 28 times this season in the Championship, Swansea have conceded the fewest amount of goals this season at just 15 and also have the most amount of clean sheets, also at 16. A whopping 57% of Swansea’s matches this season in the championship have resulted in a clean sheet for Swansea. There is no doubt that acquiring Guehi on loan this season was tremendous business by the Swans as he has helped massively by starting in over 88% of their Championship matches.

Guehi has played with numerous different players within the two other centre back slots this season. Steve Cooper is very indecisive about his defensive options and struggles to pick the same three centre backs consistently. However, Guehi has solidified his place in the starting lineup due to his impressive performances. Guehi’s defensive partner at the start of the season was Joe Rodon. He found a move away from the Swans to Chelsea rivals Tottenham. Rodon has found himself on the brink of starting and has featured in the Premier League 7 times this season. Marc has also featured alongside other Premier League veterans in Ryan Bennett and Kyle Naughton during his ongoing spell at Swansea. The experienced gained from long time professionals and defenders with Premier League game time could be vital to Guehi’s development and future as a Premier League defender.

Marc Guehi will be coming back from Swansea with a wealth of great experience and solid minutes in a tough league under his belt, hopefully gearing him up for fighting for a place in the Chelsea team. Many people seem to think that Marc Guehi is “the best defender in the Championship” and it will be an exciting challenge I’m sure he’s ready for, to compete in the biggest league in the world.

We can assume that Ethan Ampadu, currently on loan at Sheffield United, will also be returning to Stamford Bridge along with Guehi and I personally think they have a high chance of playing some regular football next season. Ampadu has also been utilised in the left side of a back 3 (similarly to Guehi) this season after a dip in performances in the defensive midfield role.

Tuchel has already proven 3 games into his reign that he is not scared to play the youth and introduce them when he feels they are ready. Tuchel was a main part of Christian Pulisic’s uprising at Dortmund and hopefully he can utilise the talent that Guehi evidently has and turn him into a great Premier League centre back. Guehi’s ability on the ball could also be a driving factor in the amount of minutes he plays as Tuchel has made it obvious that he is not a fan of Zouma’s technical ability, especially on the ball.

It will be important for the club and Guehi himself that we avoid another Fikayo Tomori situation. Losing another young, promising centre back that excelled in the championship could be a big blow to a whole range of factors. Many of the centre backs coming through the ranks in our academy will feel that they are not going to get the chance to play for the first team regularly if we fail to incorporate Marc into our first team setup, following the demise of Tomori at Chelsea.

Guehi’s loan at Swansea expires at the end of the season, hopefully giving him the chance to adjust to Tuchel’s philosophy throughout pre season and get used to his team mates. If Chelsea fail to sign Upamecano, Boateng or fail to recall Tomori, Guehi should definitely be given the chance to prove himself in the Premier League.

Written by Frankie

Ruben Diaś, the answer to our defensive problems?

Although Chelsea currently posses many central defenders, I don’t believe these defenders have enough quality to completely fix what is a clear liability within our overall game as a team. Assuming all of our centre backs are at full fitness, I think everyone can agree our strongest centre back partnership is Fikayo Tomori and Andreas Christensen, with Zouma and Rüdiger as back ups. If you were a rival fan, you’d probably think, on paper, our centre back options are very good, but after watching these defenders at Chelsea it’s clear that isn’t fully the case. Antonio Rüdiger tends to lose concentration/make silly decisions within key moments of games, Christensen lacks that inner fire power that’s needed to be a successful centre back (please note, I’m a big fan of Christensen, and if he does sort out his mentality, he has the potential to be a successful, long term option at Stamford Bridge). Kurt Zouma is a proven Premier League defender with a great mentality, although his lack of quality on the ball lets him down from being a first choice option in this Frank Lampard system once Rüdiger is back to full fitness, and Fikayo Tomori simply lacks Premier League experience.

With all of that in mind, I’ve been searching for who could tick most of these boxes and therefore be a successful, long term acquisition for The Blues, and that player is Rúben Dias. At the young age of 22, Dias is no stranger to success. At club level, Dias won the ‘Primeira Liga’ last season, as well as winning the ‘Nations League’ with Portugal this Summer.

Although Dias is only 22, don’t let his age fool you when it comes to experience, because Dias has plenty of it. Excluding his games at Benfica B, Dias as a total of 56 appearances over two seasons in the ‘Primeira Liga’ alone, appearing 24 times in the 2017-2018 season and 32 times last season. In addition to this, Dias has 11 caps for his nation, Portugal, which is quite impressive considering the large amount of centre back options Portugal posses.

Dias has a lot of experience at a young age, which can be very important, but how would he fit in to this Chelsea team and who would he play alongside?

From watching Dias, it’s clear he’s more of an aggressive type centre back who makes tackles that stop a direct attacking threat, Dias is not a sweeper. The fact that Dias isn’t a sweeper means if he played alongside Zouma or Rüdiger (players who are too similar as him in terms of style of play) the defence would be too aggressive which would make it easy for top attacks to break through. For example, a side like Manchester City would tear a Dias/Rüdiger defence apart, like they tore a Luiz/Rüdiger partnership apart at the Etihad last season. If we were to sign Ruben Dias, Christensen playing alongside him would be a must. Christensen’s quality to sweep up through balls is superb, which would allow Dias to do what he does best, make one on one tackles and be aggressive towards the opposition attackers.

One thing that could cost us this is season is the loss of David Luiz’s passing range. At times where we were struggling last season, we could rely on Luiz’s passing range to make a quick switch of play or through ball to our striker, but with Luiz’s departure to Arsenal, that is not now possible. Our defence might struggle on the ball this season, but if we were to sign Dias in the Summer of 2020, this would no longer be a problem. Dias’ ability on the ball is very similar to Luiz’s, he often successfully plays long balls to the Benfica attackers and is a very efficient short passer, which would suit Lampard’s style of play perfectly.

In conclusion, Ruben Dias would be a brilliant signing that wouldn’t be sold for more than €35M, which is a very good deal in today’s market. Dias is an aggressive defender with great passing ability and concentration. Dias would be a massive upgrade on most of (if not all) our centre backs.