After weeks of little transfer activity due to their negotiations with Brighton & Hove Albion over Moises Caicedo, Chelsea switched up their focus in double-quick time to sign Ligue 1 stars Lesley Ugochukwu and Axel Disasi.
The former is a young central midfielder with an intriguing profile that hasn’t been seen at Stamford Bridge since perhaps Nemanja Matic, while the latter is a physically imposing centre-back with immense leadership qualities.
It seems Chelsea pushed to sign Disasi – previously wanted by Manchester United and Newcastle United – in response to Wesley Fofana’s serious ACL injury, which is set to rule him out for the majority of the 2023/24 season.
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Multiple reports speculated that Chelsea would only pursue a new central defender if the right fit was found and that a panic buy would not occur, despite Fofana’s injury.
However, while Disasi may not have bee a panic buy, he wasn’t an urgent need at Stamford Bridge. Earlier in the summer, Mauricio Pochettino himself has stated that a new midfielder – preferably with experience – was needed, while a different style of striker could be helpful alongside Nicolas Jackson, Armando Broja and Christopher Nkunku.
But, the Blues splashed €45 million on Disasi, which certainly raises questions over Trevoh Chalobah’s future at the club.
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Fofana’s injury left Chelsea with four senior options at centre-back – Thiago Silva, Levi Colwill, Benoit Badiashile and Chalobah – along with youngster Bashir Humphreys, who impressed on loan at German second-tier side Paderborn last term.
Disasi has made that five, although Colwill has been used in an unfamiliar left-back role so far this campaign.
As for Disasi, he has started every Premier League game so far, with Pochettino clearly favouring the Frenchman alongside Thiago Silva.
With Pochettino using a back four, adding Disasi to the centre-back roster may have been an unnecessary luxury, especially given Chelsea won’t be playing many midweek games due to their failure to qualify for any form of European competition last year.
Furthermore, it suggests that Chalobah may be on his way out. The Cobham academy graduate was linked with an exit all summer, but Bayern Munich weren’t able to fund a move and the Englishman rejected a move to Nottingham Forest.
However, he remained at Stamford Bridge and Pochettino has recently admitted that Chalobah is part of his plans at Chelsea.
But, reports suggest that Bayern and Forest will come back in for the 24-year-old in January, with the purchase of Disasi could pushing him towards a departure.
However, data analytics experts SciSports suggest that Chelsea would have been best advised keeping hold of Chalobah rather than signing Disasi.
Chalobah or Disasi: Who is better?
According to SciSports’ cutting-edge SciSkill rating, which takes into account several different statistics to form their ratings, Chalobah is currently at a higher level than Disasi and his potential is also higher too.
Chalobah possesses a current SciSkill rating of 93.7, while he has the potential to reach a 113.8 SciSkill rating.
By comparison, Disasi is rated at 87.3 right now and only has the potential to hit just 97.6. Interestingly, the man Monaco signed as Disasi’s replacement – Southampton star Mohamed Salisu – actually profiles as a better player, according to SciSports.
The former Saints centre-back has been given a SciSkill rating of 91.6, and he could potentially reach 107.6 if he hits the heights expected of him.
Disasi is a good defender with certain traits that have translated well to the Premier League – such as his leadership and his strength – but he’s not an upgrade on Chalobah.
Furthermore, Chelsea may not even need an upgrade on Chalobah at all. He’s an academy graduate with immense versatility to cover centre-back, right-back and central midfield – which is where he played on loan at Lorient – and the Blues’ huge investment in Fofana means he must be their long-term heir to Thiago Silva if his injury problems don’t persist.
As a rotation squad player, Chalobah is almost as good as it gets, and while Disasi is a useful centre-back, he was an unnecessary investment given the holes still in Chelsea’s squad.