Lewis Dunk has been heavily linked with a move to Chelsea in recent days. Tom Overend profiles the player and assesses his areas of strength and improvement ahead of a potential deal.
Lewis Dunk has been a stalwart at the back for Brighton since they won promotion to the Premier League in 2016. Dunk graduated from the Academy at The Seagulls, spending his entire career at the club apart from a brief loan stint at Bristol City. A fee of around £40 million has been rumoured to prize the 28 year-old from the Amex Stadium.
Long Passing and Switches
Lewis Dunk is an exceptional ball-playing centre-back. He has an eye for long passes that Chelsea have lacked in the back line last season. Dunk has played almost as many switch passes as Virgil Van Dijk, playing over three passes over forty yards per ninety minutes. This is topped only by VVD and Trent Alexander-Arnold, which illustrates how much of an asset this could be.
Dunk also has an impressive eye for a short pass. He plays around sixty live ball passes per match, appearing to be the main defensive distributor of the Brighton team. This will assist Frank Lampard, who prefers playing out from the back as a primary tactic at Chelsea.
This is enhanced by his ability to make passes under pressure. He is comfortable playing the ball out against a press, and has the ability to comfortably make crucial passes under pressure. This, again, will come as welcome relief for Chelsea fans, who are all too used to losing the ball under pressure in the defensive third. This is another likely area that has generated interest from Frank Lampard.
Chelsea have been suffering most in defence owing to a lack of physical prowess. Lewis Dunk, while physical, ranks slightly low on the statistical outlook for blocks per game. This would be a development area at Chelsea, because he would likely be the physical lynchpin in the back four. This is not a weakness in the player, for he does have relatively good physical stats, but it will be an area for improvement for the entire back-line next season.
Lewis Dunk has a slightly disingenuous habit of being dribbled past by defenders. His statistics place him near the top for the number of times he has been beaten by an attacker, and this is a significant worry for Chelsea fans. The club has not had a rock-solid ‘defender’ since the departure of Gary Cahill, and it appears that Lewis Dunk will not entirely solve this problem. It is justifiable to suggest that statistics never tell the entire story on a player, but this does not bode especially well ahead of a potential transfer.
Lewis Dunk has a slightly low tackling record, which backs up the previous statistic about one-on-one defending. He is not a prime tackler, which again may not solve the defensive problem that Chelsea currently has. Questions will be asked about his suitability to be the rock-hard lynchpin in an already fragile defence.
Lewis Dunk is not an especially strong pressing defender, ranking relatively low on pressuring attackers in the defensive phase. This might be related to tactical decisions, with Brighton often sitting back and inviting opposition pressure. However this does not stylistically fit Frank Lampard’s tactics, and will need to be boosted if a move to West London is pursued.
Lewis Dunk is clearly a very talented player, who has shown considerable loyalty and skill for Brighton. It is clear that he possesses the ball-playing ability that is necessary in a Frank Lampard team, and would solidify Chelsea’s ability to play out from the back on a regular basis. However, there are defensive deficiencies that are evident in his play. He is not the strongest one-on-one defender, and does not have a tackling and pressing record that would encourage Chelsea fans at this stage.
Dunk does have the bonus of having vast Premier League experience as well, which is advantageous in relation to other centre-back targets. There is clear potential for him to become one of the best ball-playing centre-backs in the Premier League.
However taking into consideration his age and his defensive statistics, any scepticism arising from Chelsea fans about a potential £40 million transfer would be understandable.
What do you think of Lewis Dunk? Is he the defender Chelsea need to stabilise the back line? Let us know in the comments below!
- All statistics are courtesy of Iyer Tapas (@IyerTapas)
- Comparisons are made only to defenders that have played 2700+ minutes of Premier League Football in the 2019/20 season.
- Database: FBRef