There’s been a lot of talk about our central defenders in the first team not being up to the mark this season, and that seems to be an opinion that is justified considering the errors and the basic defending that some of our Centre Backs have been doing wrong, which has resulted in us conceding a lot of unnecessary goals at time this season. Will we sign a CB to solve this problems? We’re not sure, but this prompts us to have a look within our own academy to see if there are any players that may shine out in the future in this position for us, or whether we need to sign young defenders for the future.
Career so far
Addji Keaninkin Marc-Israel Guehi (don’t worry, we’ll just call him Marc Guehi going forward) is an Ivorian born young English central defender who is one such prospect and certainly one that needs to be kept in mind when talking about our future back line. He has been at Cobham since he was 7 years old, and has played throughout all levels of the academy, and has also represented England from the Under-16 level to the Under-21 level, having captained the England U-17 side at the U-17 European Championship. He scored an important goal in the U-17 World Cup final which led to England winning the World Cup. He was part of the historic Chelsea U-18 side that won the quadruple, an immensely talented youth team that included youngsters that are now making their mark on the big stage with players like Reece James, Billy Gilmour, Tariq Lamptey, Callum Hudson-Odoi, with our very own assistant manager Jody Morris coaching them. Let us know how many young Cobham stars you can identify in the picture below.
He made his professional Chelsea debut for the senior side this season in the Carabao Cup game against Grimsby Town back in September, following up with a start against Manchester United in the 4th round as well, before moving to Championship club Swansea City on loan in January along with fellow academy colleague Conor Gallagher. He is a grounded person coming from a humble background, who enjoys playing football, which is reflected in the maturity in his game from a very young age. He is someone that has never got carried away with his success at the youth level and always strives to become better as a footballer, and his overall development has been really good so far, as can be seen from the two Chelsea appearances he made. He lacks experience at the senior level and perhaps, the awareness that a central defender should have, which is why he has been loaned out, to get accustomed to the style of play in England at the senior level.
Overall Attributes – Character, Strengths and Weaknesses
He is the kind of Centre Back that, perhaps Chelsea are lacking at the moment. He has a strong physical presence and is extremely well built for a youngster, accustomed to take on physical challenges, a natural defender. Even when he was played in the Carabao cup against a top side like Manchester United, he was unfazed by the nature of the challenge facing him, and showed leadership in that defense almost instantly, something that we have been lacking at the heart of our defense. He is good at aerial challenges, and is imposing in the air. A good thing that I see in him is that he has the potential to be both – a natural physical box defender, and also someone who can play well in a high line, which is a rare mix, something that none of our central defenders, barring maybe Zouma, possess. He has a good recovery tackle in him, and is not sluggish and slow either, and seems to have a good enough pace for his build. In terms of ball-playing abilities, he has also showed that he can pass the ball functionally well, short and long, but is not the kind of defender with flashy passing abilities. He is restrained at does well enough with the ball, attempting the cross field ball now and then. Apart from his strong passing ability, he is also good at making interceptions, which shows that he is a player whose focus, concentration and reading of the game are his strong attributes. Apart from this, he is known to score a goal or two here and there, and that is because he provides an aerial threat at indirect set-pieces as well.
The only weakness, if you could call it that, that I’ve seen in him so far is that he tends to mistime a few tackles and is reluctant to dive into tackles, which is not a huge problem for someone who has just started playing at this level.
Guehi has made ten appearances (nine starts and one substitute appearance) so far for the Swans in the Championship and has had two starts in the League Cup for Chelsea earlier in the season. So we do not have a huge sample size to make a statistical analysis out of, but this is just to get an idea of what his season so far has looked like. In the 817 minutes that he has played in the Championship this season, he averages 0.8 tackles per game, which is not a lot, considering tackling is not his best attribute yet, but he certainly has room to improve on that. He makes 2.3 interceptions per game, which is good, and as we saw earlier, interceptions is one of his strongest attributes. For some context, Antonio Rüdiger makes 0.8 interceptions per game. Of course in a different team and a different league with more appearances, but it still goes to show that it is one of Marc’s strengths. He has a high 4.9 clearances per game, and records 0.7 blocks per game.
As far as passing is concerned, it is once again not a problem for the young lad, averaging 53.7 passes per game, with 3.9 long balls, and a success rate of 83.4%.
The above analysis of his attributes goes consistent with the stats, as we can see from them, albeit from being a very less amount of games, he has been good at making interceptions, being defensively aware, making clearances and with a good passing rate, but can sometimes be a little hesitant going into tackles, which is something that he can learn as he develops.
Conclusion – A player to watch out for.
The overall analysis of his attributes, his character, his development as a footballer so far, and lastly and only used as an indicative measure, from his statistics this season, we can see quite clearly that he is a natural young defender who can be a great future CB, both for Chelsea and England, and it comes as no surprise that Lampard and Jody Morris showed faith in him, giving him senior starts which are especially difficult to get for young defenders, and then sending him off on loan for his development after that. They will definitely be tracking his progress with a keen eye, and will be looking to send him out on loan again, to further his development before eventually giving him a chance with the Chelsea first time. I personally think that he is one of the most talented defenders from the academy, which is a huge compliment, considering quality players like Ethan Ampadu, Trevoh Chalobah, etc. are all part of the current crop of defenders from Cobham on loan. He definitely has the potential, the capability and natural temperament for a top defender, and is a mountain of a CB physically as well, and all these qualities just go to show that maybe our future in terms of defenders might be secure when such players eventually develop and make it into the first team, solving a lot of the defensive problems that we are currently facing.
What do you think of Marc Guehi? Will he appear in Blue when he arrives back from North Wales? Let us know in the comments below!
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