For Lloyd Kelly, the route to the Premier League has been unconventional. From foster care to sporting stardom, his progress has been hugely impressive. He has made the step up from academy football to the professional level rather smoothly.
The defender is now a part of the squad at Vitality Stadium. Bournemouth bought him for a fee of around £13 million from Bristol City. This deal was signed less than a week after the Premier League season came to a close.
He has had an impressive season with his hometown team Bristol City, making 48 appearances as the Robins finished eighth in the Championship. He is credited for scoring twice and assisting a further couple goals.
The youngster boasts of an impressive CV for a player of his age, having featured regularly for England at the U-20 and U-21 levels. Standing at 6ft. 3 inches with a gigantic frame, Kelly is an absolute beast of a left-back. His above-average height for a full-back makes him a dominant presence in the air. This is an asset for any defender to have in the English game.
This tactical analysis will profile Bournemouth’s new left-back Kelly.
Before making the Premier League switch, Kelly was a homegrown hero at the Robins. He joined the academy at the age of 12. Later he was recruited to play locally for Bristol Central. He made his debut for the club when he was 18. Since then, he has been an influential figure in the team.
The defender, who can play as a full-back or in the centre, was part of the first team’s pre-season training camp in Portugal in 2015. He went on to sign his first pro deal later that year.
Away from club football, the defender has also been making waves on the international scene. Just a few weeks on from his Robins debut, Kelly made his first appearance for the England under-20s in a 3-0 win over Holland.
Despite training with the first team in 2015, Kelly had to wait two years for his senior debut. He then became a substitute in an EFL Cup clash against Plymouth in August 2017. He made his league debut for City in December 2017 and his England U21 debut in November 2018.
The 20-year-old defender is highly rated and has previously been linked with the likes of Liverpool, Arsenal, and Southampton. Yet the Cherries have added the versatile defender in their squad.
The manager, Eddie Howe follows a forward thinking and a steadfast approach. His attitude to provide opportunities to new talents have reaped immediate results than long-term rewards. In 2018-19, only one of the Premier League’s top six, Manchester City (15,715), gave more minutes than Bournemouth (11,882) to players who ended the season under the age of 25.
According to Howe, left-back had clearly been an area of Bournemouth’s squad that needed to strengthen. He has managed to do that by adding the 20-year-old to his ranks. Kelly fits in the tactics of the manager and is expected to initially slot in there.
Howe has been forced to play the likes of Nathan Ake, Nathaniel Clyne, and Adam Smith during the later stage of the campaign. Thus, making the decision to sign someone like Kelly makes a lot of sense.
Kelly has performed well in the last season at Bristol City playing both as left-back and centre-back. The scout report shows his adaptation to both these positions. With his addition, Howe is looking towards the future and has acquired a long-term successor to the ex-Leyton Orient player. If the Cherries complete the signing of Nathaniel Clyne from Liverpool, they would have one of the best-attacking fullback pairs outside of the top six.
Predominantly a left-back, Lloyd Kelly is perfectly adept in playing as a centre-back if needed. He is physically strong with a height of around 6ft, which helps him winning aerial duels at a canter. The youngster has won 47.6% headed duels, epitomizing his strength in the air.
Full-backs need to be effective on both sides of the field and Kelly possesses that raw pace. He can dribble past opponents to create room for himself to either deliver a cross or for a cutback. Defensively, he has registered an average of 5.57 interceptions per game. He has depicted his propensity of stopping wide men from crossing the ball easily.
The following picture shows how Kelly can win back possession and continue to attack due to his precision. He chose the right moment when to play vertical line breaking passes into the feet of his attackers. He circulated the possession and switched the angle of attacks. Executing his passes with accuracy and ideal weighting, his distribution was on point.
Dribbling with intent and confidence, his ball carrying has been extremely useful in attempts to break down their stubborn foes. Working nicely alongside Fikayo Tomori, he can position himself soundly. He can make sure to keep his spacing, shape, and compactness in line with his backline.
Reading the play neatly and concentrating sharply, he can make good decisions when to shift laterally, step up or drop back. He also knows when to press any opponents in his designated area of operation. The young defender can respond swiftly to pressing triggers such as his teammates dropping deep with their back to goal.
Moving onto his defensive exertions, the 20-year-old undertakes his duties with a nice blend of smarts and physicality. His quick reactions enable him to get touch tight to his marker. This aspect of his outing transferred into how effectively he managed crosses and cutbacks, meaning he took up top positions to quell any danger. This following picture shows that.
The Bristol starlet would regularly drive upfield with the ball at his feet as he knows how deep the poles are positioned. This would provoke a pressing action from an opposition midfielder, which would subsequently create a free man. It could also open a passing lane or manipulate their adversaries’ setup.
The statistical analysis shows an average of 73.6% accurate passes and 25.5% accurate crosses. Kelly has never failed to demonstrate his all-around efforts. He was one of the most featured full-backs for Bristol City. His solid body of work was a testament to his quality and adaptability.
The left-back was made England U20s captain earlier this season. He has been impressive both for club and country, channelling the reputation he gained as an academy talent. Kelly maintains his position quite well as left-back. He moves forward just like any other player in that position, but more importantly, he tracks back quite well. He is an attacking threat but would also offer defensive stability to the side.
Once he works his way through a gruelling pre-season, the emphasis falls on his shoulders to capitalise on every opportunity. And if his performance is the same or better than what it was at Bristol City, then not only will Bournemouth be getting a potential successor, but they could also be getting quite the upgrade, too.
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