In January this year, I joined a few Chelsea fans to discuss a wishlist we would send to Football Santa, assuming there was one. Naturally, we went over positions the men’s team needed to fill, namely the left-back, midfield & striking positions. Names like Grimaldo, Dembele and Werner surfaced.
We looked at the women’s team and figured that, to a large extent, we were good. We’d already announced Sam Kerr and Jamie-Lee Napier who seemed adequate enough to negotiate the rest of the season. Both signings took care of the fullback and striking positions too (I can see the men’s team drooling).
The only other position we thought we might need to reinforce was central midfield. At the time, Amandine Henry seemed like the prime candidate for the position, yet little did we know that we should have been looking in Germany for our own powerhouse CM. Just last month, even with the league and other competitions on hold, Chelsea announced the signing of German midfielder Melanie Leupolz from Bayern Munich.
Who’s she you ask? She’s German. She plays in the midfield. I could end this piece right here, because that ought to say a lot, but I’d much rather explain why she just might be the last piece in our Champions League squad puzzle. 🙂
Hallo Melanie, Willkommen!
Leupolz has represented the German national team since 2013, and she was a part of both the 2013 Euros and the 2016 Olympic squads. She spent six years turning out for Bayern in the Frauen Bundesliga as well as in Europe, and has proven to be a very adept CM. She’s great at the basics and then some. You’ll often find her orchestrating smart presses, recovering possession and dictating the play in the middle of the park.
This will suit Chelsea’s often interchangeable 4-4-2/4-3-3 formations, and, as we know being an attack-minded team, it’s key to have someone provide the balance that she is expected to bring.
What sets her apart currently is the balance of her defensive and attacking abilities as a midfielder. For instance, Leupolz’s average recoveries per game figure stands at 8.6. However, what’s even better is that she has an impressive pass accuracy (after recovery) of 45.87 per 90 minutes, which is quite instrumental in controlling the midfield and the game. These are numbers that place her above any other midfielders currently in the squad.
She may not average more recoveries than Sophie Ingle (10.5), but her pass accuracy after the recoveries is so much better (36.5).
This is no jab at Ingle at all, it just highlights the increase in balance that the team can look forward to with the arrival of Leupolz. The two could become quite a force as a pair.
Leupolz is also great under pressure and tries to get the ball forward as often as possible. She may not be Guro Reiten, racking up those assists with aplomb, but her forward passes could easily be pre-assists. Her passes into the final third have a success rate of 72.8%, and with Chelsea’s exciting group of attackers, this could mean more chances created for them.
So where does she fit?
Leupolz will walk into a team brimming that has attacking talent. With a decent defence behind her, I’m anticipating her putting in shifts as the link between both departments. With her passing range, she’s just what we’ve all been wishing for.
I know we have Ingle, who’s been magnificent this season, but with an increase in the number of games we’d have to play if not next season then the season after, it’s a very smart idea to double up on areas as important as the midfield.
There’s still some uncertainty surrounding when the beautiful game will be back, but in the meantime, it’s fantastic to see the Leupolz signing materialise. Definitely something full of hope to hold on to as we all look forward to the good times rolling again.
Written by: TheAfrolucy
Edited by: Dan