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Is Ben Chilwell an Upgrade on Our Current Options?

With a few sources claiming Chelsea target Alex Telles could be on his way to Paris St Germain, we now turn our attention to a player w...



With a few sources claiming Chelsea target Alex Telles could be on his way to Paris St Germain, we now turn our attention to a player who has been on our radar for a while, Ben Chilwell. The 23-year-old left-back has been an important piece in the overachieving Leicester puzzle. Despite the main focus being on star players like James Maddison, Jamie Vardy, and Caglar Soyuncu, the Englishman has silently been excelling in his role at the King Power Stadium. But who is Ben Chilwell, and how does he fare when compared to our current options? 

Benjamin James Chilwell is a product of the Leicester City academy. He rose through the ranks and was awarded the Academy Player of the Year in the year 2015, after which he was rewarded a spot in the first team by ex-Chelsea manager Claudio Ranieri. Following a brief loan spell at Huddersfield Town, he was finally deemed ready to cement his position in the starting line-up with the decline of Fuchs. And this season, he has proved exactly why he deserves that spot, by playing a crucial role in the team as Leicester City sit tidily in 3rd in the table, and looked on course to qualify for the Champions League until football was suspended due to the ongoing pandemic. Chilwell is also widely regarded as the first-choice left-back for the England National Team. 

Ashley Cole, who is arguably the best left-back in the Premier League era, has spoken to the media, claiming that Chilwell is a Chelsea fan. He also believes the young left-back has to goods to go straight to the top and has urged the Chelsea board to make a move for him. Chilwell has openly admitted that he admired Ashley Cole growing up, calling the latter his role model. This transfer seems like a match made in heaven, as Chilwell even fits the profile of the current identity of the Chelsea squad - young and English. However, the only major roadblock holding this move back is the price that Leicester will demand for one of the most sought after full-backs in the Premier League. While they have not openly declared that they will not entertain offers for the young Englishman, placing a reported 60 million pound price tag on his head essentially implies the same. With Chelsea clearly having other key areas to invest heavily in, coupled with the availability of cheaper alternatives, the odds on this transfer going through now are low. However, with Telles’ reported move to PSG materializing, the rumours surrounding Chilwell have gained pace. This leads us to the question- Is Chilwell worth the amount that’s being quoted? Is he an upgrade on our current options? Let’s find out. For the sake of levelling the playing field owing to our inconsistencies at a particular position, we will be using per 90 statistics (source: Whoscored).

Attacking

Before heading into other stats, let us look into their attacking aspect. Alonso leads with the most goals, scoring four. Chilwell has scored two, one of them against Chelsea in the 2-2 draw at the King Power Stadium. Emerson is yet to contribute to a single goal this season, while Alonso and Chilwell have set up two and three assists respectively apart from the goals which they have scored. Alonso also leads in the number of shots taken per game, which is attributable to his advanced positioning as a left wing-back. However, here is where the stats of these players become interesting. While it seems like Emerson is the worst among the three, he is, in fact, the best. Emerson leads in the number of dribbles completed per game (E- 0.9, C- 0.7, and A- 0.5). To further prove my point, the Italian full-back gets dispossessed the least amount of times (E- 0.6, C and A- 0.7 each), and has significantly fewer bad touches per game over the other two (E- 1.1, C- 1.9 and A- 1.6). Hence, despite Alonso and Chilwell having more goal contributions, Emerson leads them in every other department, consolidating his position as the most complete left-back among the three.

Defensive 

Despite Alonso leading in the tackling department with 1.8 tackles per game as compared to Emerson and Chilwell’s 1.6 tackles per game (each), the Englishman has the highest tackling success percentage with 58% (for comparison, E- 52% and A- 55%). All three subjects compare evenly in terms of interceptions, offside won per game, and blocks. When it comes to clearances, Chilwell leads the way with 2, while Alonso stands at 1.3 and Emerson at 1. This implies that the Italian prefers to play a short pass rather than just clear the ball aimlessly. The biggest indicator to support my bold statement of calling Emerson the best among the three is the number of times each of them get dribbled past per game. The difference is staggering- Alonso and Chilwell get dribbled past 1.1 and 1 time per game respectively, while Emerson only gets dribbled past 0.4 times per game. This shows his ability to position himself well along with the rest of the defense, and his ability to hold his ground rather than rushing into a tackle. Emerson has also won 67 of his 98 duels, which gives him a whopping 68% success rate. For comparison, Chilwell has a success rate of 51% and Spaniard stands at 52%. This once again proves that Chilwell is not better than our current options.

Passing

Chilwell leads in the number of passes per game with 61.7, with Alonso and Emerson completing 51.7 and 51.1 passes per game respectively. However, despite Chilwell completing more passes, he ranks last in passing accuracy with 78.2%, with Alonso boasting an 81.9% pass accuracy, trailing only to Emerson’s impressive 85.2% pass accuracy. Chilwell leads in the number of long balls per game with 1.9, followed by Emerson at 1.6, and Alonso last at 1.5. Emerson attempts the most crosses per game with 0.9, and Chilwell and Alonso attempt 0.7 per game. Alonso leads in the cross accuracy department with 25%, Emerson close behind with 24% and Chilwell ranks last with 19%. Once again, Chilwell’s stats are poorer than our current two options.

Conclusion

After analyzing Chilwell in-depth and comparing him with our current options (Emerson and Alonso), the conclusion is evident for all to see. Despite holding the upper hand in certain departments, I am far from convinced of his ability and doubt if he will improve our squad at all. To add to this, the “English Tax” which has put a 60 million pound value on him, for me, is simply preposterous. The only argument which can be made in his favour is his young age, which gives him a long period of time to improve. However, with several cheaper and better options available in the market, we should stay clear of Ben Chilwell. Even if we fail to land Alex Telles from Porto, there are several better options available for the right price such as Alejandro Grimaldo, Jose Gaya, and so on. If we fail to sign any of them, we have to rely on Emerson to channel his early-season form and work on his fitness. Whatever the club chooses to do, it would be after consulting Frank Lampard, and hence we must keep faith in his knowledge, and back his decision regardless. 


Written by - Ameya
Twitter - @LampardsLegacy

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