Why Chelsea should firm up their interest in right-back Youcef Atal
According to The Sun, Chelsea have set their sights on £35 million-rated OGC Nice right-back Youcef Atal, with the report suggesting that the Blues might firm up their interest in the 23-year-old if they manage to have their transfer ban lifted in January.
Chelsea, who are currently under a two-window transfer embargo for breaching FIFA rules related to the transfer of minors, remain hopeful of having their punishment reduced, although they are yet to hear the verdict from the Court of Arbitration for Sport. (h/t Sun)
Atal has long been identified as a post-ban transfer target by Chelsea and it remains to be seen whether the Blues do go ahead with their interest in the Algerian international in January or next summer, as and when they have their ban lifted.
The West London giants, though, would need to beat off competition from La Liga side Valencia in their pursuit of the 23-year-old, who has already carved out a big reputation for himself in France under the guidance of the legendary Patrick Vieira. (h/tSun)
One of the standout performers at Nice in the previous campaign, Atal scored 6 goals in 29 appearances to guide his club to a seventh-place finish in Ligue 1, while claiming as many as eight man-of-the-match distinctions for his consistently impressive displays at right-back.
Atal’s recent exploits on the international front have been even more impressive. The 23-year-old was instrumental in Algeria’s triumphant campaign in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt earlier in the summer and it is hardly a surprise to see his stocks soar sky-high after going through such a rich vein of form.
To put things into perspective, Youcef Atal looks like a really promising young talent and Chelsea should not hesitate to firm up their interest in the highly-rated Ligue 1 prospect.
The Algerian seemingly has the attributes to develop into a top-quality offensive-minded full-back and his style of play might suit Frank Lampard’s philosophy perfectly.
Atal has earned rave reviews for his well-rounded offensive and defensive qualities as a right-back in the French top-flight, with his impressive burst of pace, technical abilities on the ball, dribbling skills, as well as his ability to cope with the transitions in play and break up attacks with tackles and interceptions, making him an influential presence at right-back.
As a matter of fact, Atal has demonstrated a great level of proficiency as compared to other full-backs when it comes to getting inside the box to score goals.
Not only does he have the ability to set up goals but his scoring instincts are probably as sharp as a natural winger.
To go with a pass completion rate of 83.6 last season, Atal also averaged 3.5 dribbles, 2.3 tackles and 1.9 interceptions per game, figures which speak volumes of his well-rounded attributes.
Chelsea are probably looking at Youcef Atal as a part of their long-term plans moving forward, given that Cesar Azpilicueta might be closing in on an exit from the Stamford Bridge.
The 30-year-old has come under scrutiny several times already this term for his lacklustre performances as a part of a backline that has shipped 9 goals in their first 4 Premier Leauge games and it won’t be a surprise if the Blues allow him to leave next summer.
Highly-rated academy graduate Reece James has been touted as the natural heir to the throne of Azpilicueta at right-back but the 19-year-old is yet to make an appearance under Lampard due to an injury.
Even if James takes over as the first-choice in the near future, it would be a real luxury for Chelsea to have someone like Youcef Atal fighting for a place in the team.
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All in all, with the fountain of youth currently flowing at Stamford Bridge, it won’t be a surprise if Chelsea look to move on the ageing Spaniard and bring in an exciting talent like Atal to compete with James at right-back.