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Wesley Fofana remembers his first coaching session at Leicester Metropolis. Jamie Vardy lunged at him with each toes. That was his welcome to English soccer, however the younger defender quickly felt at residence.

When he was injured final season, Brendan Rodgers in contrast his absence to Liverpool shedding Virgil van Dijk. His progress has been so speedy that former Chelsea defender and World Cup winner Frank Leboeuf in contrast his rise to that of Kylian Mbappe.

Jonny Evans, his companion in central protection at Leicester, even instructed he change into the most effective defenders on the earth after seeing him take care of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Talking to Rodgers about Fofana in April, he was equally satisfied.

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Fofana’s greatest Premier League moments for Leicester Metropolis

“He’s a completely phenomenal expertise, this younger man,” he mentioned. sky sports activities. “He is a star within the making. The uncooked expertise, the anticipation of a defender. He’ll be an absolute elite participant.” Now 21 years previous, Fofana is able to show that he already is.

The £70m transfer to Chelsea will make the no-holds-barred Frenchman one of the crucial costly defenders in soccer historical past. The charge displays his degree of efficiency for Leicester, but it surely additionally reveals one thing about how a lot Thomas Tuchel thinks he wants it.

Chelsea’s defensive report for the reason that German joined the membership has been largely spectacular, conserving as many clear sheets as Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool. Even Pep Guardiola’s Manchester Metropolis have conceded simply two fewer objectives than Chelsea since Tuchel arrived.

However the departure of Antonio Rudiger to Actual Madrid was a fantastic loss. It isn’t simply the standard of it, however extra particularly the tempo of it. Rudiger was recorded because the quickest participant within the Premier League final season, simply forward of Mohamed Salah and Adama Traore.

Kalidou Koulibaly, 31, might replicate Rudiger’s presence, however coupled with Thiago Silva, 37, it means Chelsea should have in mind the composition of that again line. It partly explains why Tuchel has typically wished Reece James there over Cesar Azpilicueta.

No different Chelsea defender got here near Rudiger’s prime pace of 36.7km/h final season. Trevoh Chalobah was the closest at 33.2 kilometers per hour. However Fofana adjustments that. His prime pace for Leicester final season was 34.5km/h.

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It makes him one of many quickest defenders within the Premier League and that has penalties. It permits your crew to play differently. “He allow us to assault, blocking counter-attacks,” James Maddison mentioned after beating PSV final season.

Talking to Rodgers at Leicester coaching floor the morning after that European victory, he defined the influence Fofana’s model of play had on his crew. They have been defending increased and the gaps have been smaller. “Tempo does that,” he mentioned. sky sports activities.

“The scale of the sector is at all times dictated by the central midfielders and the full-backs.” If the protection is simply too deep, fearful about that ball excessive, it undermines every little thing. “You will be up there urgent, but when they’re sitting on the midline then the sector is simply too massive.”

He added: “It is a trait we wish to have within the crew. We ask them to defend ahead. That is anticipation, closing down the sector, holding assaults. You’ll be able to’t at all times rating with the primary move, however you must get it again.” and he counter-presses if you lose him.”

Wesley Fofana only played 630 minutes in the Premier League last season due to injuries but, through 90 minutes, the centre-back ranked fifth in the league for recoveries in the defensive third and 15th for passes completed.

That means to intercept, diving from the baseline to win again possession, is a prized high quality on prime groups. They need a defender who can run in the direction of his personal aim but additionally influence the sport within the different route with that managed aggression.

Add Fofana’s aerial means because of a leap that enables her to outrun taller opponents. Contemplate ball expertise that guarantee he feels snug in possession. That is why Leicester regarded like such a distinct crew in his absence for the primary half of final season.

“Any crew would miss him,” Rodgers mentioned. sky sports activities.

“It’s important to be trustworthy and open sufficient to confess that you’ll miss somebody with that means. In fact that is going to hamper efficiency. There is no rocket science in that. You miss your greatest gamers and it takes away out of your degree. play”.

That is Leicester’s downside now. With the assistance of Evans on the pitch and Kolo Toure off it, the boy nicknamed ‘Little Wes’ as a consequence of title-winning captain Wes Morgan’s presence on the membership turned a person within the Midlands. However they needed to know that this might be fleeting.

The circumstances of Fofana’s arrival have been controversial. Saint-Etienne didn’t need to promote, however the participant pushed for him to maneuver and his household suffered private abuse because of this. He was single-minded then and single-minded now. All that issues is the following step.

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Panel discusses whether or not Fofana can enhance Chelsea’s protection

For Fofana, meaning Chelsea. He was 11 when his hero Didier Drogba received the Champions League with the membership in 2012. Following the identical path, he’s decided to safe a spot in Didier Deschamps’ France squad for the World Cup later this 12 months.

Chelsea will profit from that ambition, simply as they may profit from the tactical flexibility Rodgers instilled in them. Fofana suits properly on the proper aspect of a again three, however may also play as one of many two centre-backs. That might be the one side left to enhance.

“We simply should watch out with him,” Rodgers mentioned in April. “He is nonetheless studying facets of the sport, tactically. Now we have to recollect how younger he’s.” When his £70m transfer is full, maybe it is time to take a look at it one other manner. How good might Wesley Fofana be?


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