Last year’s Sky Bet Championship was full of young and promising talent. The League has acted as a fertile breeding ground for youngsters being loaned out to prove themselves worthy of Premier League game time.
This player and tactical analysis will look at Jake-Clarke Salter, Herbie Kane and Eddie Nketiah. All being players who could impact the Championship on loan from one of the big Premier League six next season.
There are many players now who have put themselves in contention for Premier League game time. These include but are not limited to, Harry Wilson, Mason Mount, Fikayo Tomori, Reece James and Dean Henderson. There were even calls for Harry Wilson to be prematurely recalled back to Liverpool due to his impressive displays on loan at Derby.
In this scout report, you will notice is that all of these players came on loan from two of the top six in English football. Chelsea have been the most prolific example of the contemporary transfer model which hoards young talents to sell for profit or move into the first team at a later date. However, most big clubs these days have extensive use of the loan systems in place.
As a result, the big six have a tremendous array of talent at their disposal. Players adequately prepared for the Sky Bet Championship. Many of these players aren’t proven at the Premier league level and therefore the Championship can be seen as a crucial bridge to cross. It offers a competitive league and an introduction to the rigours of men’s football.
Chelsea and Jake Clarke-Salter
Chelsea have an embarrassing riches of talent in their first team squads. With the transfer embargo most likely to be enforced, they will need to draw from within for next year. However, with the likes of Andreas Christiansen, Tomori and Kurt Zouma back from loan, in all likelihood, Jake Clarke-Salter will be loaned out again next year.
Clarke-Salter has been one of the rising talents in Chelsea’s academy for many years now. On the back of a strong season of football in the Eredivisie, Clarke-Salter was recently named the U21´s Captain for the European Championships. Whilst it was a disappointing tournament both personally and collectively for him and England, Clarke-Salter still has the requisite qualities to step up to the Championship level.
When doing this tactical analysis, it was clear Clarke-Salter excels defensively. The six foot one centre-back is extremely strong in reading the play. He often makes excellent covering tackles when either his full-backs or centre backs have been caught out. Additionally, with an average of 5.5 clearances a game, he is amongst the top seven in clearances in the Eredivisie.
Clarke-Salter is an extremely safe option on the ball. He seldom gives the ball away. His statistics confirm this, recording an 82% pass average over the year for Vitesse. Furthermore, he rarely elects to dribble with only 0.3 successful dribbles per game completed. Offensively, his best attribute is his long range of passing. Clarke-Salter is excellent in recognising penetrating runs and playing direct balls into the final third. Additionally, he regularly chooses to play long diagonal passes to the right-sided winger. He is extremely accurate in these passes as well.
The centre-back has had inconsistent showings at international level recently. Against France, he was arguably the best centre-back on the pitch. A pitch that shared talents such as Tomori, Ibrahima Konate and Dayot Upamecano. However, against Romania, he struggled.
Clarke-Salter had previous spells at Sunderland and Bristol Rovers in which he bluntly didn’t hit the mark. However, with these experiences under his belt, he would be a brilliant pick up for any team in the Championship this coming season. At 22 years of age, Clarke-Salter had his best season personally last year. He was a regular in the Vitesse Arnhem side that impressed many with a surprise fifth-place finish. Furthermore, with regular European football, an U20 World Cup, two UEFA Youth League titles and three FA Youth Cups under his belt, Clarke-Salter has proven he is ready for the Championship.
Clarke-Salter would flourish in a more direct style of play. He would excel in a team which plays a more risk-averse style on the ball. Furthermore, he is most comfortable when sitting in a deeper block. Doing so reinforces his strengths. Occasionally he can be caught out at times when higher up on the pitch in counter press situations. Therefore a team such as Cardiff with said tactics could be a terrific match.
Liverpool and Herbie Kane
On the Liverpool side of things, they have some bright prospects coming through. Rafael Camacho, Curtis Jones and Rhian Brewster are all names who will be looking to gain some first team experience next year. However, for me, Herbie Kane is the most ready-made player capable of Championship success next year. The box to box midfielder has come off the back of a stellar season in League One for Doncaster. Scoring seven goals and adding nine assists, the 20-year-old was named in the team of the season. Like Dean Henderson last year, he has proven himself after a regular season of game time in League One level. Kane is a lot of what you and Klopp would want in a modern midfielder.
He is adept at taking on the press and intense off the ball. Kane can play anywhere amongst a midfield three. However, he works best as a box to box midfielder. Playing as such allows him to contribute both offensively and defensively. Kane has tremendous awareness for a young player. He recognises spaces well, rotating with his other midfielders to receive the ball alone. Furthermore, he has shown an ability to constantly roll his opponent if pressed. This means Kane is aware before he receives the ball, which side his opponent is coming from. Finally, he tends to recognise space well in transition, often playing long lofted passes for his teammates to run into.
His greatest strengths lie in his attacking output as a midfielder. He is amongst the top performers for passing, assists and goals in the league.
Kane would suit any variant on a three-man midfield. In particular, a system with fluidity would work best for Kane as he is extremely mobile in ball possession. He likes to rotate constantly with teammates. Often he will drop between centre-backs and to the side of the centre-backs. This allows him to receive the ball and use his impressive distribution to move around the opposition. He is most adept though receiving the ball in between the lines and therefore a team with progressive passing defenders would also suit Kane best.
When Gerrard was with the u18s, he tipped two players for stardom. They were Trent Alexander-Arnold and Herbie Kane. With this and his age in mind, Kane has a huge potential ceiling and would make a brilliant addition to any Championship side as long as Klopp lets him go.
Arsenal and Edward Nketiah
The next player to fit the bill for a Championship club is Eddie Nketiah. At 20 years old, Nketiah is at a crucial time in his development. With Emery giving him only eight games in two years, the young striker is in need of playing time. The championship would be a good option for him.
Nketiah is primarily a centre-forward, but adept also in taking a wide role due to his mobility. The Englishman is skilful with the ball, especially in 1 vs 1 situations in wide areas. Evidenced by his goal against Burnley. When playing central, he mainly looks to make penetrative runs. Often these runs are into wide areas.
When his teams have the ball deep in the opposition half, Nketiah tends to pull away from the middle and into wide areas. From here he can take players on. Nketiah excels at this. With development, Nketiah will add a considerable amount of assists from wide areas to his game. In the games he has played, he is constantly getting into these wide assist zones. From here, he lacks in the final pass. With age, his composure should improve, therefore leading to an increase in assist numbers. Finally, his work rate off the ball is impressive for a striker and adequate for a team who press regularly.
Nketiah would excel in a 4-4-2 diamond system or 3-5-2. These systems include tactics made for strikers who enjoy fluidity to move into the wider areas. Furthermore, when doing so, there is still one striker down the middle of the pitch. Nketiah would work brilliantly with a more box confined, hold up striker who he can work off.
Nketiah has been prolific at youth level both domestically and internationally. He has registered a goal every 99 minutes in the Premier League when Emery has chosen him. He has scored regularly as well at international level. Whilst he has fewer games, his regularity in scoring has been better both domestically and internationally than say a Tammy Abraham. This adds weight to the idea that Nketiah could flourish in the Championship. Furthermore, Nketiah has averaged an expected goal ratio of .49 in his first team games for Arsenal. With this in mind, I believe Nketiah has all the requisite qualities to make an impact at Championship level.
All three players have proven they have the level to step up and become regular starters in the Championship next year. However it is crucial they find a team that fits their style of play, as this can have huge ramifications on the potential success of any move to the Championship. Just like Wilson and Mount, they are young and have plenty to prove in a bid to return to their home clubs.
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