Why Chelsea must revive interest in Youcef Atal in the summer
Back in April, Guardian claimed that Chelsea targeted Nice’s right-back Youcef Atal.
The highly-rated right-back was one of their prime targets but they were handed a transfer by FIFA for violating the rules regarding the signing of foreign under aged players.
Youcef Atal, 23, had been a revelation for Nice last season and had helped them to 7th place in Ligue 1 last season, narrowly missing out on a place to qualify for the Europa League in the following season.
Atal became the first Algerian in 33 years to score a hat-trick in Ligue 1 and that came against Guingamp last season.
Chelsea, despite starting the season poorly, have made a comeback and are currently 4th in the Premier League standings. They narrowly lost 2-1 to Manchester City at the weekend but are aiming to finish higher up the table.
With the ban inflicted on them, Frank Lampard has done a decent job with his youngsters, leading their way to the top. They seem to get better as the season progresses and have also done well in the Champions League so far.
Atal, who is on the radar of Chelsea, has played 10 games so far in Ligue 1 and has scored one and assisted twice for Nice. He has been a pivotal member of Patrick Vieira’s squad since his move from KV Kortrijk.
Predominantly a right-back, Atal has shown glimpses of his quality as a right-midfielder and winger too.
At Chelsea, Atal may not be their first-choice due to the presence of Cesar Azpilicueta and the in-from Reece James, but he can be seen as a player who would fit Lampard’s equation on the right side of the pitch.
According to Whoscored, Atal has registered 1.4 tackles, 1.9 interceptions and 0.3 clearances per game. While contributing to the team’s attack, he has an average of 1.9 shots, 0.8 key passes and 4.4 dribbles per game in Ligue 1 this season.
The Algerian’s numbers speak volumes of his contribution in a game and therefore, he would bring in some healthy competition to other players in Lampard’s squad. He sure looks to be ready to break into the Premier League after a string of impressive displays.
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Atal would not just be a back-up, but he can also develop into a fine Premier League prospect if Chelsea succeed in luring him to Stamford Bridge in the summer, or in January if their transfer ban is uplifted.
In Atal, Lampard would be able to rotate his squad and keep his players fit for various competitions. He can also succeed at right-back after Cesar Azpilicueta. Therefore, Chelsea must revive their interest in the Algerian international.