Werner. Ziyech. Pulisic. Havertz?
Even before you get to the raft of young talent that, sadly, look set to create a truly impressive bench, Chelsea’s attack is starting to look incredibly tasty. New signing Ziyech came in for a measly (by today’s standard at least) £36 million, with Werner added to the mix from the Morata sale money, with Marina still managing to turn a £3 million profit from that little change.
So many well known and exciting names, so surely FPL priced them accordingly?
It’s an FPL managers dream…
Timo Werner is 24 and scores goals for fun. Timo Werner is 24 and has a goal per 90 rate that puts him in the top 10 for all players in the top 5 European leagues. Timo Werner is £9.5m in FPL.
Coming into a new league and a new footballing system is never an easy task but Werner has shown early commitment, dropping out of Leipzig’s Champions League push early to join Chelsea in training at Cobham. Discussion about where exactly he’d fit into this Chelsea squad is certainly up for debate, with Werner being an adjustable player who is happy on the left and through the middle or even on the right. For me, I’m struggling to picture him fitting in anywhere else than upfront for Chelsea, unless Frank produces a formation change, even before you consider best positions. With Havertz looking a very likely transfer, he would be expected to take the number 10 role with Ziyech on the right wing, leaving just left wing and forward spots to be filled. Assuming Werner takes one of the two, that leaves Pulisic to take LW or Giroud / Abraham to play up front and I think you’d be hard-pressed to find any fan who doesn’t think Pulisic should start. However, with Pulisic nursing a knock, it’s very feasible that Werner may start his Chelsea career shifted to one side…
Timo is a quick forward who is a deadly, composed finisher but he needs space. Fortunately, he is very capable of making that space for himself – as long as he’s found by the likes of Ziyech or Reece James – but will also be able to make use of runners like Pulisic and Havertz / Mount to move defenders around to create goal-scoring opportunities. I’ve been guilty of being too optimistic about Chelsea forwards in the past, but I truly think something big is being built here. One potential concern could be his consistency though as he’s a bit of a “feast or famine” type of forward. We have seen periods of the last season where he would rack up returns in multiple games on the bounce, before becoming very quiet for a period of time – FPL managers will need to pay attention for when he’s entering one of these golden patches.
Even if you come into this with a bit of pessimism, Werner arrives at a price point shared by players like Martial, and numerous easy downgrades meaning that even in a worst-case scenario the exit plan is straightforward. Speaking as someone who very rarely buys Chelsea players on FPL – he was the first name in my team.
I trust we’ve all seen Pulisic’s ability now.
The start to his Chelsea career was hardly smooth, with a few patchy performances and injuries slowing his start and showing worrying trademarks of a winger that couldn’t take his chances. However, as a young player who has very much been the poster boy of American football (sorry, soccer) the pressure on his young shoulders has been incredible and Frank knows it. A period of serious man-management followed where Pulisic was taken from the limelight and worked closely with Frank Lampard to develop his understanding and confidence, such that when he returned to action later in the season, it was enough to take our breath away.
The soon-to-be 22-year-old is only just starting his career and is going from strength to strength with his performances, but is unfortunately hounded by persistent injury problems, the latest of which looks set to force him out of the first couple of games. Overcoming and limiting such issues will be crucial for him to make good on his impressive threat and creation stats that highlight the impact he made in the last few games, despite a slow start. With 2.66 shots in the box per 90, only Mo Salah (£12.0m) and Raheem Sterling (£11.5m) rated higher as regular starters from this year’s cohort of midfielders. Christian Pulisic, meanwhile, costs £8.5m.
So surely we should all be investing, no? Well, perhaps – he’s certainly very high on my watchlist. However, we will go into this season with a very different frontline, with a lot of players adapting to a different style of football, whilst Pulisic is fighting to return from an injury. That gives us a safe bit of time to monitor Pulisic for now before we inevitably snap him up at that tasty price.
Maybe, one day, people will stop comparing him to Hazard. He isn’t Hazard. He’s Christian Pulisic.
The Wizard of Amsterdam
Ziyech brings an undeniable playmaking ability that Chelsea have sorely needed in numerous games this season and a penetration that I think we have lacked since the days of prime Mata. Before the 19/20 season was cut short, Ziyech amounted 6 goals and 13 assists in 21 appearances, albeit in a league not to the standard of the European giants. Despite this, Ziyech has demonstrated on multiple occasions his ability to dismantle teams at the highest level with an impressively deep bag of tricks. Set pieces? Yep. Pressing? Unending. Passing? Exceptional. Chance creation? Limitless. Ziyech is the textbook definition of a modern playmaker who will wander all over the pitch, not constrained to one position (which will likely be on Chelsea’s right). Whilst this may cause defensive issues, Spurs fans will be able to attest to how difficult it is for a team to cope with that sort of movement.
When you look at his creation stats, it’s hard not to get excited. 3.7 key passes per 90 in the Dutch League is comparable to De Bruyne’s key pass rate in the PL, and even if he can only match his per 90 rate for Champions League games only (2.5), he’d still come out as 8th in the Premier League. With 0.73 assists per 90 this season, he rates only below Muller from the top 5 European leagues, eclipsing the likes of De Bruyne.
And in that, lies the issue.
Moving from the Dutch Eredivisie to the Premier League is a big step and whilst Ziyech is more than capable of it, he’ll need time. Moving from Ajax’s system to Chelsea’s is another big switch, and no matter how much early training you get in, he won’t arrive at a world-class level. £8.0m seems a very tempting price tag for him, but given he’s facing a big change and will more commonly be the assister than the scorer, I’ll just be monitoring for now.
The biggest shame is that with a collection of new signings, some players have to miss out.
Mason Mount, who had such an accomplished debut season that he’s held to the standard of a seasoned pro, may be looking at rotational minutes if Havertz arrives (or when the inevitable injuries come) but would likely still struggle to assert himself as an FPL asset at £7.0m.
Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek (both £6.0m) have both posted good stats – CHO towards the end of this season and RLC pre-injury – but both may struggle to make good on them with limited minutes. I briefly alluded to it on Twitter earlier in the Summer, but another Premier League club could probably tempt someone like RLC away from the club at a somewhat reasonable price and they would end up with a very, very talented player.
In case anyone was wondering – Werner wasn’t signed to sit on the bench. With Havertz, who is also capable of playing as a forward, being strongly linked to the club, the competition for forward spots may be tough. Giroud himself admitted that he knew Werner hadn’t come to sit on the bench but pointed out that he offers a very different role to Werner. Having a big, strong target man in Giroud is a fantastic option to have, especially versus low blocks, and with him having pushed Abraham out of the number one spot towards the end of this season he will be confident of being the first choice backup. This would leave Abraham somewhat out in the cold and dependent on either a formation change or Werner to play on a wing. Could we see Abraham become an option at another club? Possibly.