WHO: Ben Chilwell
FROM WHERE: Leicester City
TO WHERE: Chelsea
FOR HOW MUCH: £50m ($66m)
GRADE FOR CHELSEA: B+
GRADE FOR LEICESTER: A
After having one of the worst defensive records in the Premier League top-10 last season, Chelsea have finally reinforced their backline by signing one of the best young full-backs in England – Ben Chilwell. The left-back spot was the root of much of their demise last season, so it’s no surprise why Frank Lampard has opted to sign a consistent one like Chilwell.
The Englishman showed a lot of promise under Brendan Rodgers at Leicester City, helping them maintain a solid defensive record last season. Chilwell is surely a major upgrade over the fumbling duo of Marcos Alonso & Emerson, while he also has potential to consolidate himself as Chelsea’s mainstay full-back for the next decade.
Who Is He?
A product of the Leicester City youth academy, Chilwell was associated with the Foxes since he was 13 years old! He received his breakthrough & found much of his early success with Leicester, albeit just missing out on a Premier League medal in the historic 2015/16 season.
After a loan spell at Huddersfield Town, The sturdy left-back became a regular for them from the 2017/18 season and has also become the starting left-back for the England national team in recent years.
Is The Price Fair?
$66m is still a lot of money in the current transfer market, especially considering how Covid-19 has had an effect on finances. Like they did with Harry Maguire last season, Leicester have again made a huge profit on someone they didn’t even buy.
But considering how much Chelsea needed a quality left-back to fix their issues on that side and Chilwell guaranteed to get only better/be a regular for the next decade, this should seem a very good investment a few years down the line.
What Impact Should We Expect?
So let’s be honest here. Is Chilwell world-class like Alphonso Davies or Andy Robertson? Not really. However, he is potentially on track to become one & has probably been only behind to Robertson in terms of the best left-backs in the Premier League in the recent seasons.
The 23-year-old’s biggest trait is he is a complete full-back who seemingly doesn’t lack on key departments. Unlike Alonso, whose terrible defensive shakiness caused Chelsea a lot of troubles, Chilwell can definitely hold his own on the left-wing. He’s come up against the best in the Premier League and passed with flying colours, possessing enough intelligence & confidence to shake off menacing wingers.
The Englishman’s impressive positional sense, ability to track movement of wingers & put in vital challenges is why he’s regarded so highly around England. He boasted some impressive stats for Leicester last season, averaging 1.6 tackles, 2 clearances & 2.1 aerial duals won (stats via WhoScored) per game – some of the best for a left-back in the league.
Chilwell doesn’t allow nervousness cloud his performances & maintains peak concentration to see off bigger threats, something none of Chelsea’s left-backs were able to. Unlike Alonso or Emerson, he also isn’t error-prone nor does he make grave, game-changing mistakes in big games.
However, Chilwell isn’t only limited to being a ‘defensive left-back’. He is equally good, if not better, than whatever Chelsea have at their left-back department when it comes to attacking contribution. The tenacious 23-year-old has an impressive work-rate and loves romping up & down the flank looking to create chances with his left foot.
The former Leicester man possesses a superb crossing ability, with most of his floated crosses perfectly meeting its mark. As long as he can keep up his accurate crosses, new signing Timo Werner should have a field day in scoring thumping headers. Even when it comes to scoring goals himself, Chilwell doesn’t hold back.
His brilliant strike against Watford last season showcased how much firepower his natural striking foot really possess. Chilwell isn’t afraid of taking some thunderous strikes at goal which often catch goalkeepers by surprise & help add another attacking dynamic for his side. He contributed 6 goals (3g, 3a) for Leicester last season, as many as Alonso (4g, 2a) which proves the 23-year-old is as much of an attacking threat as the witty Spaniard.
Chilwell will be part of a new, younger backline for Chelsea & will play a big part over helping improve their defensive structure next season. Due to his price-tag, he will have big expectations weighing over his shoulders – but the hard-working left-back should repay the Blues’ faith in him pretty well in years to come.
They might’ve overpaid for him a little bit, but Chelsea has taken a calculated risk on Chilwell. If he can stay injury-free, the 23-year-old should prove to be a solid long-term investment. He’s got a strong character, matches Lampard’s values and is talented enough to grow into a formidable full-back & reign over Chelsea’s Left-back spot for well part of this decade.
Leicester City (A)
After minting a huge profit on Maguire last summer, Leicester has made a real coup by selling Chilwell for such a high fee. Of course, Rodgers will be gutted to sell an academy product but he can easily invest half that fee to sign a strong replacement. The club stays happy & recuperates losses made due to the Covid-19 lockdown as well!