The Premier League is famous around the world for providing drama year in, year out, but the saga currently playing out at Chelsea must be ranked among its most bizarre.
Antonio Conte remains the club’s manager despite months of speculation suggesting he’s sure to leave and, while presumed successor Maurizio Sarri waits in the wings, the squad is now back training under the former Juventus man.
Confusion reigns throughout the club, but the transfer window waits for no man. Chelsea have begun to make moves regardless of who may or may not be their boss when the opening day of the Premier League rolls around. The club’s hierarchy has spoken, and they know the players they want.
The first of which, it appears, is Lille’s Ivorian winger Nicolas Pépé.
A 23-year-old known widely as a striker, Pépé spent last season tearing through Ligue 1 from a right-wing berth. Full of pace, power and skill, he was able to wrack up incredibly impressive numbers:
|FWD 23Y 1M 6FT 0IN||MID 27Y 6M 5FT 7IN|
Jun 2017 - Jun 2018
Goals with feet
Goals with head
Minutes per goal
Eden Hazard is undoubtedly Chelsea’s most talented individual and talisman, yet it’s striking to see just how close Pépé came to matching his output last season whilst playing for a far less fashionable team.
Pépé did enjoy more playing time than Hazard and, as such, it’s not totally surprising that he registered more goals and assists. With only 16 minutes separating the pair in terms of average minutes per goal, however, it’s clear to see just how close they were.
At almost 4 and a half years his junior, it’s tempting to wonder just how close the Pépé may come to emulating or even surpassing the Hazard in coming years. He’s young, full of talent and is already performing at the highest level. Players like that are few and far between, and Chelsea should seek to snap him up as quickly as possible.
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