By, Navaneeth Ravichandran (Twitter: @navrav28)

The most drawn out saga of this summer’s transfer window has finally come to a conclusion, as Chelsea have confirmed the signing of French midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko from Monaco for a fee believed to be around 40 million pounds. Bakayoko has signed a 5 year deal with the club, and should step right into the starting lineup besides fellow Frenchman N’golo Kante. Here is a scouting report on the 22-year old that many are comparing to a young Yaya Toure.

Defensive Ability

Interceptions and tackles, that is Bakayoko’s bread and butter. His tackle success rate was an astounding 81% in the French top tier last year. Kante, the reigning PFA player of the year and well known tackle machine, had a 69% success rate. Clearly, Bakayoko is extremely capable of disrupting possession in the midfield. He also recording 56 interceptions last season, displaying the ability to break up passing plays with relative ease. Seeing Bakayoko and Kante team up in the Chelsea midfield will be an indubitable nightmare for opposing teams.

Support Man

In the Monaco setup last season, Bakayoko teamed up with Fabinho in the center of the midfield. Bakayoko played a little more forward, while Fabinho would act as the man directly in front of the center-backs, essentially playing as a sweeping midfielder picking up the remains of any balls Bakayoko may have missed up front. This positioning not only worked wonders for Jardim’s side, but it gave Bakayoko license to head up the pitch if he desires. This meant the Frenchmen was a key linkup man, providing support with weighted balls through to the likes of Bernardo Silva, Mbappe, and Falcao. Bakayoko registered 7 assists last season, which for a player whom is known for his defence first is a very good number. If Conte chooses to play his two midfielders the same way, with Kante acting as a Fabinho, then Bakayoko will have license to play the support man that he has proven he can.

Athleticism

Like I mentioned earlier, Bakayoko is a very good support man. This is not only because of his technical skills, but because of his physical assets as well. Like fellow Chelsea signing Antonio Rudiger, Bakayoko is extremely physical, and surprisingly fast as well for a supposed defensive midfielder. Whether he’s sprinting to support the attack or tracking back to shore up the defence, Bakayoko can get there using his physical ability. The following video encapsulates his ability as a support man, utilizing both technical and physical aspects of the game.

Flexibility for Conte

Adding a player of Bakayoko’s skillset means Antonio Conte has a little more depth and room to experiment. Of course, Bakayoko can be immediately plugged into the current 3-4-3 formation without any issues. However, should Conte choose to adopt a 3-5-2, Bakayoko can fit right into that as well. The latter midfield would conceivable include the French duo in Kante and Bakayoko, and will likely include Cesc Fabregas as a creator. This way Fabregas will not have any defensive duties whatsoever, and will only have to focus on the long balls he is so well known for. Another formation, although it may be a bit of a stretch, is a 4-2-4. This setup relies heavily on the two in midfield, but if there are any two midfielders in Europe that can make that formation work, it’s Kante and Bakayoko.

Final Thoughts

One of the reasons I love being a Chelsea fan is because of how they conduct their business. Although their signings are not the most expensive, they are almost always smart and improve the team immensely. We saw that last year with the additions of Luiz, Alonso, and Kante. I believe the trend will continue this year with Rudiger and Bakayoko. We don’t need a world record Paul Pogba, what we need is a talented box-to-box midfielder that complements Kante in the midfield, and Bakayoko fits the bill perfectly.

Cover photo courtesy of: Express Sport

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By, Navaneeth Ravichandran (Twitter: @navrav28)


Chelsea recently announced today the signing of 24-year old German defender Antonio Rudiger from Serie A side AS Roma. There are discrepancies in the fee depending on which outlet you choose to believe, but it is believed to be around 30 million pounds, plus an additional 4 million pounds in performance related add-ons. This represents Chelsea’s second signing of the summer transfer window, succeeding Willy Caballero’s arrival. Rudiger spent the past two seasons with the Italian club, and just a few weeks ago won the Confederations Cup with the German National team. After watching him in that tournament and doing some research, here is a scouting report I have compiled on the brand new Chelsea defender.

Versatility

The main strength that Rudiger possesses is his versatility. Antonio Conte’s preferred formation includes 3 central defenders, and Rudiger can play in all three positions (his preferred location is left center back, currently occupied by Gary Cahill). Not only that, but he can also be deployed as a right wing back, giving Victor Moses some healthy competition at that position. With European football again on the schedule, depth and versatility are both key assets for a successful squad, and Rudiger will help make Conte’s decisions easier.

Above Average Passing Ability

Chelsea fans last season grew accustomed to watching David Luiz nail forwards with pinpoint long balls from the back. Should he ever need a rest, we don’t have to worry about those long balls disappearing. In Serie A competition last year, Rudiger completed 185 long ball completions. That was the most out of any qualified defender in Italy. The following video showcases Rudiger’s capability. His passing ability is highlighted from 3:54 onwards. Take a look at some of the balls he plays, and the locations on the pitch he plays them from. No matter where the gaffer chooses to play him whether it’s in the center of the pitch, the left, or the right, Rudiger manages to find his man almost every time.

Limited Goalscoring Ability

In 35 games across all competitions last season with Roma, Rudiger failed to score a single goal. Obviously, scoring goals isn’t a significant job requirement for a central defender, but secondary scoring is a welcome resource to have at times. Don’t look to Rudiger to provide that scoring.

Athleticism

For a central defender, Rudiger possesses outstanding speed and power. With him at the back, Roma had the freedom to play a high backline, owing to the fact that if any balls were to make it behind the defence, Rudiger would be quick to catch up. Oh, and as the following instagram post from Roma shows, Rudiger is built like a tank. He’ll definitely be able to make the transition from manhandling Serie A strikers to manhandling Premier League strikers.

Final Thoughts

There are some on social media who aren’t completely happy with the signing. It may even be you, reading this article. Just know that when it comes to transfers, the ultimate indicator of whether a transfer was a smart move or not is time. When David Luiz came back to Chelsea last season, many scoffed at that piece of business, calling it a panic buy. A similar sentiment was echoed with Marcos Alonso. He wasn’t seen as a player that should be playing for a big club like Chelsea. And yet, both of those two are now integral parts of the Chelsea fabric. Rudiger may not be the big money signing like a Van Dijk, a Bonucci, or god forbid a Lukaku. But Manchester United showed us last year that spending a lot of money on a player doesn’t always translate to success. I personally love this transfer. Rudiger is the perfect player for an Antonio Conte system and mentality. I look forward to cheering him in blue.

 

Thumbnail image courtesy of: The Guardian

 

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