Saïd Benrahma has become the latest player to be linked with a move to Stamford Bridge, but not for the first time. The rumours came about earlier in the season, and now they’ve resurfaced, it seems like the perfect time to delve a little deeper into how the Algerian winger could fit in under Frank Lampard.
I’d not seen much of him before these latest round of reports, and I’m wary of judging quality based off of highlight reels, as they often make players like Zappacosta look like prime Cafu. So, fresh from watching a full replay of QPR 1-3 Brentford from October 2019, and asking for the thoughts of people who’ve watched him extensively, here is an in depth analysis of Brentford’s Saïd Benrahma.
If you watch the Algerian winger for even a minute, you’ll come away with one stand out thought – this guy can dribble. His close control and quick feet are extremely good, which has allowed him to draw 1.2 fouls per game this season, up from 0.9 the previous year. He’s only getting more and more dangerous, especially as he can use both feet to great effect. Benrahma’s low centre of gravity really helps him to glide past defenders and turn quickly, to get into positions to shoot or create chances for teammates. Dribbling is quite simply his best attribute. He makes 3.1 per game.
What also impressed me in the QPR game in particular, was his off the ball movement. He has a fantastic mix of dropping deep for the ball and hugging the touchline, where he can be an option to progress attacks. His ability to make runs in behind the defence was also telling, proving that he has the intelligence needed to transition to a top 6 PL club. In fact, many of the people who’ve watched him frequently named him as one of around 5 Championship players who could make that leap, high praise indeed.
A feature of his game is often cutting inside and unleashing shots from distance, which is a sorely needed trait in the current Chelsea squad. Far too often we see overplaying, when getting a shot off could be the better choice, with Benrahma making on average 3.7 shots per game this season, an increase from 2.9 in 2018-19. It’s no wonder then, that even with the arrival of Hakim Ziyech, Lampard is interested in the Algerian. He’d bring real quality to the current setup, a skilful and tricky winger with an eye for goal.
In 2018-19 he scored 10 goals and claimed 14 assists in the league, with 10 and 7 in the current campaign. He’s a player that produces a very strong output in a difficult league, and is clearly one of the Championship’s best players.
An issue that is noticeable when he plays is him keeping his head down when he dribbles, sometimes meaning he’s not aware of what’s around him, which can lead to some poor decision making. It’s definitely an area that can be improved upon though, so I personally don’t see it as a major concern, as his output drastically outweighs any negatives that can be found.
You also won’t see him producing a lot of defensive work, as he’s much more focused on the attacking side of the game. He’s more in the mould of an Eden Hazard than a Willian, preferring to take people on and make an impact in the final third, rather than do the dirty work.
Still in the Championship at 24?
When people talk about Saïd Benrahma, the laziest argument you can find is his age and the league he plays in. 24 isn’t old in football terms and it never has been, with there being 6-8 more years of quality football left in you at that point.
In regards to the league, he’s a player that’s progressed from Ligue 2 in France from 2016-2018, to the Championship and his move to Brentford, where he’s spent the last two seasons. There’s been a clear progression in the quality of league and in his general play in that time, which is the only relevant factor you should consider. He’s a player that is steadily improving, and is capable of making the leap to a Premier League team, especially as a backup in a squad like Chelsea’s.
Where would he fit?
If Chelsea were to solidify their interest with an offer and choose to go after the Algerian, he’d be coming in as an option to play out wide, predominantly on the left. He’d be under no illusions that his place in the squad would be to push the likes of Hudson-Odoi and Pulisic, getting his minutes in cup competitions or if he earns his chance, which Lampard would give him every opportunity to.
If it transpires that a big money move for someone like Jadon Sancho isn’t possible, Chelsea could do much worse than target Saïd Benrahma. He may not be a headline grabber, but he’s some talent.