Chelsea

Analysing Chelsea, Part 3: The hunt for a proven goalscorer

Frank Lampard is desperate for reinforcements up top, so who could fit the bill at Stamford Bridge?

3:00pm on Thursday 2nd April 2020
By
Aidan Reagh | Performance Analyst

In the third part of Analysing Chelsea, we looked at who the Blues could bring in to upgrade the left-back position, which you can read here. In this third and final instalment, we will be looking at bringing in attacking depth to complement Tammy Abraham.

Chelsea'S FORWARDS

Abraham returned from loan at Aston Villa this past season, which saw him score 26 Championship goals (with an xG of 25.76) after playing 3702 minutes (0.63 Goals P90). At the start of the season, it was not fully clear who Lampard would look to rely on between Abraham, Belgian international Michy Batshuayi and French veteran Olivier Giroud.

As the season progressed, Tammy Abraham emerged as the clear first choice. However, with 2039 minutes played this season and 13 goals to show for it, it may not be a bad idea to find an alternative goalscorer to put less stress on the English striker’s shoulders.

First and foremost when it comes to finding a new player, it is important to evaluate current options. Michy Batshuayi joined Chelsea back in the summer of 2016 for £33m, but has failed to come close to living up to the fee. After loan spells at Borussia Dortmund, Valencia, and Crystal Palace, Batshuayi has found himself an expensive third choice for Lampard. I think most would agree it is time for Chelsea to move forward without him.

22 yrs - S (C) - Chelsea
81
Defending
Creative
Passing
Attacking
Shooting
Decisive
Aerials
Physical
JavaScript chart by amChartsLDefendingCreativePassingAttackingShootingDecisiveAerialsPhysical10-10-5051015100%
1945
Played matches
25
13
3
Shots P90
3.38
Shots On target P90
1.53
Successful passing %
68%
Final third passes P90
6.76

Second choice striker Olivier Giroud is one of the Premier League’s more underappreciated strikers and he is still getting the job done at Chelsea when needed, but he also carries a base weekly wage of £110,000, per Spotrac.com. At 33 and holding a contract that expires this summer, Chelsea could find a player with more upside on a lower cost with relative ease.

If we were to look at data to find a replacement playing outside of Chelsea’s ranks, we can do this with relative ease given the capacity the replacement is coming in to perform. To keep the database limited, a selection of attackers with a minimum of 1,000 minutes played this season and a minimum of 10 goal contributions from the top five leagues of Europe has been formed.

The priority is finding an efficient goalscorer, given this player will likely be used primarily in a role complimenting Abraham. We will also examine the successful defensive actions P90 to try and find a better fit for Lampard’s pressing system.

SHOOTING EFFICIENCY

In the graph above, we compare Shot Accuracy % with NPG Conversion Rate. If you are unfamiliar with NPG Conversion Rate, this metric is simply (goals - penalties) / shots - penalty shots. For example, Kylian Mbappe’s NPG Conversion Rate is 20.6, meaning 20.6% of the non-penalty shots he takes results in a goal being scored. In this graph, we included an average line to divide the player selection into quadrants. In QI, we see the most efficient players. These players are largely elite and would likely not play at Chelsea or would force Tammy Abraham to be the second choice.

However, some players are attainable in this quadrant. In with the Lewandowskis, Immobiles, and Vardys, we see Lyon’s Moussa Dembele, Everton’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Burnley’s Chris Wood, and Union Berlin’s Sebastian Andersson. Atalanta’s Josip Ilicic also is in this quadrant, but at age 32, we would be just as well off keeping Giroud.

To expand our now-limited shortlist, we can extend into QII and QIV by 2% to include the players who are close enough to the database average that they can be included in the refined list without much discrediting. This adds Marseille’s Dario Benedetto, Atalanta’s Duvan Zapata, Southampton’s Danny Ings, Renne’s M’baye Niang, Augsburg’s Florian Niederlechner.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Lionel Messi also qualify, but will be excluded for obvious reasons. The individual data can be seen in the table below for those who pass the first cut.

Potential chelsea targets
centre-forwardMar 31, 2020
 Name TeamAge NPG Conversion RateShooting Accuracy %
Moussa DembéléLyon2423.147.8%
Dominic Calvert-LewinEverton2319.745.2%
Chris WoodBurnley2920.847.8%
Sebastian AnderssonUnion Berlin291960.9%
Darío BenedettoMarseille301842.3%
Duván ZapataAtalanta2919.242.2%
Danny IngsSouthampton2822.443.3%
Mbaye NiangStade Rennais2615.146.4%
Florian NiederlechnerAugsburg3015.6051.9%

With these nine players, we can now move on and look at their defensive actions compared to Tammy Abraham.

DEFENSIVE ACTIONS

In the graph above, we want to look at candidates that have a high amount of successful defensive actions P90, meaning we only want to include the strikers in quadrants I and IV.

Of our shortlist, this rules out Chris Wood, Duvan Zapata, and M’Baye Niang. While the number of successful defensive actions is not crucial in our search, we must remember this potential recruit will likely see a majority of minutes in an off-the-bench capacity to try and be an additional threat when trailing, meaning the ability to win the ball is crucial. In the table below, we have the exact numbers of our remaining six players.

CONCLUSIONS

Now that we have looked at the data, we have to apply some logic to our potential recruits. The Bundesliga duo Florian Niederlechner and Sebastian Andersson are both respectable players who each have 11 goals in this Bundesliga season.

Niederlechner is valued at £9m and has taken advantage of Icelandic international Alfred Finnbogason’s fitness issues this season at Augsburg, however, he is 29 and has never really emerged as anything more than respectable amongst the lower-budget teams of Germany’s top flight.

Looking at Andersson, there is not much that separates him from Niederlechner on paper. While the Swedish striker performs well in a newly-promoted side that finds themselves mid-table, would Chelsea really be convinced to sign a 28-year-old valued at only £5.4m?

Probably not. Despite their strong pressing numbers, Niederlechner and Andersson both are on the lower end of efficiency and can be ruled out.

Looking to Ligue 1, and Dario Benedetto. Benedetto finally made his move out of the Americas this past summer to Marseille to join Andre Villas-Boas as his new striker for £12.6m.

The Argentinian has scored 11 goals this season, but given he is the worst presser amongst our final six and playing at a club performing really well as his performance levels start to decline due to age, he can also be ruled out from our list.

That brings us to our final three; Danny Ings, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, and Moussa Dembele. All of these players would make sense to bring in, meaning it comes down to the opposition’s willingness to sell.

23 yrs - ST (C) - Lyon
81
Defending
Creative
Passing
Attacking
Shooting
Decisive
Aerials
Physical
JavaScript chart by amChartsLDefendingCreativePassingAttackingShootingDecisiveAerialsPhysical10-10-5051015100%
2189
Played matches
27
16
2
Shots P90
2.30
Shots On target P90
1.07
Successful passing %
70%
Final third passes P90
8.22

Starting with Danny Ings, the Englishman has revitalised his career after a summer move to Southampton and has proven to be a star player in the club’s climb from relegation danger. With this being said, it is unlikely that Ings would be keen on a move to London to become a second choice, nor would Southampton let him go for a backup price after signing him for £20m this past summer.

Looking at Dominic Calvert-Lewin, the young Everton striker checks off a number of boxes and fits Lampard’s preference of younger players. While he is an English player who would likely accept a secondary role at Chelsea, he signed a 5-year extension at the beginning of March to stay at Everton until June 2025, meaning he will likely be close to untouchable on the transfer market.

Finally, we get to Moussa Dembele.

Not only is Dembele a good fit per the data, but he also has gained the attention of Chelsea after reportedly failing to acquire their primary target, Timo Werner. The Lyon striker sees his side sitting in 7th and 10 points off a Champions League spot, meaning the attraction to Chelsea should be fairly obvious.

The 23-year-old has scored 16 goals in 27 league matches this season and has already enjoyed success at Celtic and Fulham previously in his career. Despite Lyon’s struggles, he will not be cheap. Should Chelsea be able to sign Dembele in the summer, they will have a striker who will not only compliment Tammy Abraham but battle for a starting spot. The young striker fits the requirements of Chelsea better than any other player in Europe’s top five leagues, but will they meet Lyon’s price?

This is part three of a three-part series using data recruitment to strengthen aspects of Chelsea’s squad. If you enjoyed this article, you can find many like it along with visuals and much more by following @ARDataAnalysis on Twitter.

Latest news

Bundesliga

Dortmund sign another English wonderkid from Man City

The Bundesliga side have once again raided the Premier League runners-up, like they did with Jadon Sancho a few years ago

  • 14 hours
Transfers

Should Sergino Dest pick Barcelona or Bayern?

The exciting young full-back is in a tug-of-war at the moment between the clubs, but if you were him, where would you go?

  • 14 hours
Milan

Ibrahimovic tests positive for coronavirus, will sit out Europa League

The big Swede was in superb form for Milan at the weekend, but they'll have to make do without him against Bodo/Glimt

  • 14 hours
European Championships

Five substitutes to be allowed in Champions League and Euros

The rule was originally brought in around Europe to help with the burden of returning in the coronavirus crisis

  • 15 hours
Premier League

Porto tell Man Utd to pay Telles' €40m release clause

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is desperate for a new left-back this summer, but the Portuguese side are remaining firm on the asking price

  • 15 hours
Lionel Messi

Luis Suarez is still a top forward - just not for Barcelona

The Catalan giants can't carry so many older players but the Uruguayan is still a superb finisher and has time to go yet

  • 16 hours

Most read

Other interesting players

  1. Liverpool 94
  2. image description Kevin De Bruyne M, AM (C)
    Man City 92
  3. image description Kai Havertz AM (CR)
    Chelsea 92
  4. image description Bruno Fernandes AM, M (C)
    Man Utd 92
  5. Liverpool 92
  6. Man City 92
  7. image description PE Aubameyang F (C), AM (L)
    Arsenal 91
  8. image description Raheem Sterling W, AM (L)
    Man City 91
  9. image description Sadio Mané W, AM (L)
    Liverpool 89
  10. Leicester City 89