A lot of the transfer window talk at Stamford Bridge has been around Chelsea‘s need for a new centre-forward.
With Gonzalo Higuain finally secured on a loan deal and with Alvaro Morata leaving to Atletico Madrid it would appear, on paper at least, that a solution has been found.
With Chelsea reportedly blocking any departure to Bayern Munich for teenager Callum Hudson-Odoi, attention has moved to the defence where both Juventus and Borussia Dortmund are believed to be interested in signing Danish central defender Andreas Christensen.
And with Chelsea thought to be looking to activate a buy-back clause on Bournemouth defender Nathan Ake, it makes sense for us to do some tactical analysis and compare the two players and conclude whether Christensen being should be sold to make room for the talented Dutch international.
Let us start with looking at this season’s player profiles for each player.
We can see here that Christensen has only featured once for Maurizio Sarri this season. This was in the comfortable 3-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup.
Since Sarri’s arrival leading to Chelsea playing with a back four, Christensen has found himself out of the picture behind David Luiz and Antonio Rudiger.
Nathan Ake has become an integral part of Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth defence playing in 23 matches so far this season.
Being left-footed and preferring the left-hand side of a defensive two or three, Ake immediately feels like he may have been earmarked as a successor to David Luiz who is still holding out for a two-year extension to his contract which expires in the summer.
Ake is less physically imposing than Christensen as you can see in their respective heights.
What do the statistics say?
We’ve pulled statistics from their professional careers to date.
The data is focusing on their defensive statistics. In his career so far, Christensen is winning 4.69 defensive duels per 90 at a completion % of 25.8%.
He also wins 3.98 aerial duels per 90 at a completion % of 63.8%.
You can also see that Christensen makes 5.77 interceptions per 90.
Of course, these statistics mean very little unless you have something to compare them to.
Straight away, you can see that Ake is producing more output than Christensen.
He wins more defensive and aerial duels per 90 than his Chelsea rival, but his completion % is lower.
Now, we can look at this two ways. Is he getting the opportunity to win more duels because he is under more defensive pressure at Bournemouth and, equally, is his lower completion % to be expected as he is at a lower rank team? My gut feeling here, and I know we are not really supposed to bring judgement to the table when looking at data, would say yes – the fact that Ake is in the same ball-park as Christensen on those two KPIs given he is playing for a lower ranked side has to be very positive.
Ake also makes more interceptions per 90 than Christensen and, once again, I feel this is valid for the same reasons above.
The point of this analysis was to work out whether Chelsea would be wise to sell Andreas Christensen to Juventus or Borussia Dortmund and then look to bring back Nathan Ake.
It is believed that Ake’s buy-back clause is around £40m.
Realistically, Juventus and Borussia Dortmund are not going to be spending that kind of money on Christensen.
So is there value in Chelsea selling Christensen for, say, £20m and then spending double on Ake?
If they see Ake as a genuine starter who replaces Luiz in the not-too-distant future then a net spend of £20m on him could be considered good value in the current market.
Christensen is clearly not a player in the Sarri mould otherwise he would have kept his place following the transition from Antonio Conte to the current regime.
But then, you have to ask, what have elite clubs like Juventus and Borussia Dortmund seen in the player that makes him an attractive target? Other than the fact he is a player that could well be very undervalued in the current market.
In the same way that a net spend of £20m on Nathan Ake, a player playing week in week out for Bournemouth could be considered a good deal for Chelsea you can understand why Juve and Dortmund would be interested in a young player with Premier League experience and a hunger to prove himself again for fee of around the £20m mark.
In many ways, it makes sense for all parties.
Whether it happens or not is another matter entirely.
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