Chelsea’s long search for a new holding midfielder may be coming to a conclusion after opening talks with one of their Premier League rivals.
After being linked with a number of players in the January window, Chelsea were unable to bring in Moises Caicedo from Brighton and Hove Albion, nor Amadou Onana from Everton.
The need to strengthen in that position is even more paramount now following strong reports that N’Golo Kante is on his way to Saudi Arabia this summer.
According to Belgian journalist Sacha Tavolieri, Chelsea are now back in for one of their former targets, having held talks with Everton over a potential £55m deal for Onana.
Is Amadou Onana a good option for Chelsea?
Onana arrived at Everton from Lille in a £33m deal last summer and featured in 33 of their 38 Premier League matches, starting 29 of those.
In what was a hugely disappointing campaign for the Toffees as they narrowly dodged relegation, Onana came in for praise for his midfield displays.
Indeed, Daily Mail reporter Dominic King described the Belgium international as a “colossus” for his performance in February’s 1-0 win over Arsenal.
Onana had a team-high 47 touches that day, intercepted the ball a game-high two times and passed the ball 30 times – the most of any outfield Everton player.
That was not even necessarily Onana’s best display of the season, either. With a 94% pass accuracy, six ball recoveries, five tackles won and even a key pass, Onana’s first-half display against Newcastle United in April was described as “wonderful” by football analyst Statman Dave.
With a reported valuation of £55m, Onana is considerably cheaper than Cai Edo, who is also aged 20 but is said to cost in the region of £70m. That is due to the Brighton ace signing a new deal earlier this year, shortly after handing in a public transfer request.
Both men are very similar in terms of their defensive numbers last season, with Onana tackling 2.61 players per game, as per FBref, compared to 2.87 for Caicedo. Interestingly, the latter fared better in terms of his success rate when it came to challenging players – 71.4% v 58.8%.
However, Caicedo did edge things in terms of blocks per 90 minutes (1.23 v 0.91) and interceptions (1.60 v 1.34). Unlike Caicedo, though, Onana made zero mistakes leading to an opponent’s shot, whereas his positional peer was guilty of doing so three times in the Premier League last season.
Onana also won more aerial duels per 90 minutes (2.17 compared to 1.06), while it was Caicedo who came out on top for passing accuracy – 88.5 v 83.3.
Ultimately, the two men have strengths in different departments, but they are both solid holding midfielders that have proved themselves in the Premier League, albeit with contrasting fortunes for their respective teams.
Chelsea may yet have the funds to sneer Caicedo from Brighton. Otherwise, bringing in Onana from Everton is far from a bad alternative.