Football News

Moussa Dembele: Would Rodgers’ old ‘Drogba-type’ gem cost Chelsea more than a transfer fee?

By Steve Jennings

Moussa Dembele to Chelsea transfer analysis

Published: 11:37, 10 January 2020

Chelsea are seriously considering bidding for Lyon striker Moussa Dembele in January, according to reports.

Dembele joined Lyon from Celtic in the summer of 2018 and has scored 33 goals in 73 appearances for the French club across all competitions. He began his senior career at Fulham, though, and it is widely held that Frank Lampard wants to bring the 23-year-old back to London to provide competition for Tammy Abraham.

Chelsea out to sign Moussa Dembele? Five things to know…

  • The Guardian says Frank Lampard wants to strengthen his frontline with the January signing of Dembele.
  • Dembele has 10 league goals this season (144 mins per goal), compared to Abraham’s 12 (132mpg).
  • The report also suggests Olivier Giroud could be used as a makeweight in order to tempt Lyon into selling.
  • Publicly, Lyon chairman Jean Michel Aulas says Dembele “will not leave because he wants to stay to win something with Lyon.”
  • Elsewhere, it has been claimed on the Transfer Window Podcast that Chelsea have verbally agreed personal terms with Dembele and that Lyon will demand £85 million.

Do Chelsea need to spend big on a striker like Dembele?

Dembele has played all 1,497 of his Ligue 1 minutes this season as a CF/ST. Indeed, he is a centre-forward through and through, and Chelsea currently have a reliable figure in that position. Only three players have outscored Blues centre-forward Abraham, 22, in the Premier League this season so far. And so, in addition to the transfer fee, recruiting Dembele could come at the cost of unsettling an academy product who has made such a promising start to his senior Chelsea career; one who – according to smarterscout – rates far higher for attacking output* based on his performances in the centre-forward role this season so far, and one who averages more shots on target (1.54) than a player (1.06) Chelsea may have to break their transfer record to sign.

*smarterscout’s attacking output rating ‘is a measure of contributions to xGF per minute that a player’s team is in possession of the ball. A player can not easily advance the ball or create a shot when his team does not have possession. Yet within the time his team has possession, a player may use any number of touches to contribute to xGF. This is why NYA uses minutes in possession as a denominator.’

How Dembele compares to Abraham amid Chelsea transfer links

On the other hand, some would fairly argue Dembele’s ‘arrival’ should motivate Abraham rather than ‘unsettle’ him, or point to how Abraham’s goalscoring rate has slowed down in this bumpy patch of form Chelsea are currently enduring (he has two goals in his last 10 appearances in all competitions, of which the team has won four). Transfer reports linking both Michy Batshuayi and Olivier Giroud suggest Lampard will soon have at least one vacancy for a back-up centre-forward.

Dembele is not exactly back-up material, of course. He scored 15 times in 2,014 minutes last season, and in an opinion expressed several years ago by the current Leicester City manager, Brendan Rodgers, he also possesses qualities similar to those which endeared Didier Drogba to the Stamford Bridge faithful.

While coaching Dembele at Celtic in 2016, Rodgers said: “I worked with Didier Drogba at Chelsea and he’s of that ilk. Didier came into Chelsea at 24 or something like that. Moussa has just turned 20. He’s still a baby, but he’s tough.”You can see on nights such as Wednesday that he is a big reference for the team. What I see in Moussa is that he’s a big-game player. He really comes alive in the big games. He has a belief. He said he wanted to be the world’s best player when he came in so we shall see.”

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