SOCCER

Chelsea transfer rumours: Anthony Gordon and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are not the answers for Thomas Tuchel

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The idea that a player’s transfer fee can be indicative of their qualities has long been debunked in an age when youth often seem to be the market’s most prized asset. And yet, there remain chords that can only be greeted with a frown and a frown. For the majority, by Anthony Gordon prospective move to chelsea is firmly in this category.

Gordon looked like a promising player last season, a young striker who combined prodigious hard work on the ball with an ability to draw fouls from defenders with his encouraging forward run. However, his end product fell far short of that of the Premier League’s best young strikers. In 35 games last season, he scored four times and provided two assists, while his combined expected goals (xG) and expected assists (xA) of 0.31 per 90 minutes is around half of what the best English hopefuls have delivered since his position last season. But, over time, it was fair to project Gordon as a useful player for a team in from Everton position.

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What he doesn’t look like, on the evidence of last season, is an international superstar in the making. And yet, this is how he is appreciated on both sides. Everton, who have refused to deny publicly or privately that Gordon has made a transfer request, have already rejected a £45million offer for the 21-year-old and yet may feel they have gambled their hand exquisitely with the Blues reportedly ready to return with a £60million offer. Those familiar with Goodison Park speak of a lingering fear that it could be a sale in the mold of Wayne Rooney, who joined Manchester United in 2004 for a then eye-popping £27million.

Of course, there is a significant difference between the two players. When Everton sold Rooney they had already set Europe on fire at Euro 2004; Gordon has had an encouraging season of play. There is clearly something for a youngster who has caught the attention of Tottenham as well as Chelsea. Perhaps this is not reflected in the underlying metrics. Perhaps the fact that he did not produce at the level of Phil Foden, Bukayo Saka and Mason Mount, it’s because he’s not on a team that allows him to reach those kinds of heights. Everton and their manager Frank Lampardsee enough in him that they are pushing to keep him despite a fee which, if spent wisely, could see their squad bolstered to two or three positions.

While it’s easy to build a case for Everton to sell Gordon, it’s harder to piece together an argument as to why Chelsea should be willing to pay so much for this particular player. Sources close to other targets the Blues have identified across the continent have expressed bewilderment that they could end up paying double the price of a top Ligue 1 or Bundesliga player for a strong starter of a team that was nearly relegated from England’s top flights. .

CBS Sports sources say Gordon’s pursuit was led by Tuchel. It’s easy to see why any coach would love to work with Gordon, a player whose greatest qualities last season were his pressure and hard running. Everton teammates rave about the youngster’s humility and at a club like Chelsea he would likely have the versatility to play in one of the wide attacking roles or as a wing-back.

But then Chelsea has (at least for now) a player who ticks all of these boxes. In just over 900 Premier League minutes Callum Hudson-Odoi recorded 0.41 xG+xA, often playing as a winger for Tuchel. It’s been clear for some time that the German wants more from his young homegrown winger, who he regularly demands a string of top performances from, while injuries have also stunted the development of a player once coveted by Bayern Munich, now set to spend next season on loan at Bayer Leverkusen. We could say almost the same thing about Christian Pulisicanother natural striker who was deployed deeper by his manager last season.

At a club with an established football back-office, Tuchel may well be challenged to use the players he already has before another £60m is invested by a team that has already paved the way for the spending. this summer. Indeed, in his years at Stamford Bridge, the idea that a head coach could wield such influence over recruitment would have been considered laughable; the players endured but the managers were disposable. Not anymore. The president, co-owner, acting sports director and ingenuous in relation to the intricacies of the European football market, Todd Boehly, supports the judgment of his coach until the end.

One could ask similar questions about the pursuit of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Here’s a player Tuchel has held in high esteem since his time at Borussia Dortmund and who has found his form significantly at Barcelona after his last spell in the Premier League ended for good in a whimper. In the end, Aubameyang was a player who struggled mightily in the Premier League with Arsenal. Perhaps this was due to Mikel Arteta’s tactical constraints and the ever-changing positions in which he played his club’s captain., but spending €25m or more on a 33-year-old with four goals from open play in his last 23 English league games, no more a gamble than losing more on a player like Jonathan David or Myron Boadu, who are more than a decade younger? Or indeed, why not also drop the Gordon pursuit and invest funds for both players in Rafael Leao, the superstar AC Milan may be forced to sell to balance the books?

One can wonder if Aubameyang, Gordon and Rahim Sterling represent a major improvement on what Chelsea had last season with Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner gone, Hudson-Odoi and Hakim Ziyech likely to follow them. Likewise, it’s unclear that this would allow the head coach to build the Goldilocks front three he was looking for.

Sixty games into his Premier League tenure, Tuchel still seems far from sure how his forward line should work. The second half of his tenure scored exactly as many goals (52, not particularly close to a title-winning side’s return) as the first, but the number conceded doubled from 17 to 34. injury issues. at the back of the pitch, but it also points to a Chelsea side that tried to attack more without a big increase in returns. In 60 games, only three players have reached double goals, Jorginho thanks to the weight of penalties, and Kai Havertz and Mason Mount who have scored a goal every three games. It’s too early to assess Sterling’s time at Chelsea, but aside from a flurry of opportunities against Leeds, he’s looked like a player who has to adapt to complex demands. A fast-paced, interlocking frontline might be the utopian ideal at Stamford Bridge, but at certain stages players need a fixed point of reference (which didn’t work in Lukaku’s case).

Of course, something has to happen to shake up a Chelsea attack that falters on the pitch with reserves that don’t want to be there. But it’s fair to wonder if giving Tuchel his way through all facets of building a frontline is the right course of action, especially since, despite the team’s success, it doesn’t seem haven’t found the right formula yet.

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