For all the attacking talents in their ranks last season, Chelsea managed just 38 goals in 38 Premier League games – only four teams in the entire division performed worse.
Bringing in a clinical forward this summer is therefore imperative if new head coach Mauricio Pochettino is to have any chance of turning things around at Stamford Bridge.
Who is Villarreal forward Nicolas Jackson?
The Evening Standard reports that Chelsea are in talks over the signing of Nicolas Jackson, who is coming off the back of a campaign in which he scored 12 goals and assisted four more in 26 LaLiga appearances for Villarreal.
Nine of those goals came in his final eight outings as Villarreal climbed into a Europa League spot, though it may have come at a cost for the Yellow Submarine as their star attacker is now wan asted by numerous clubs.
The report suggests Jackson is available to purchase for £30m this summer, making him a far cheaper option than Napoli’s £125m-rated Victor Osimhen, who was widely considered to be the Blues’ top target.
Where would Nicolas Jackson fit in at Chelsea?
According to FBref’s player comparison model, Jackson’s form in LaLiga over the past year puts him in a similar bracket to superstar strikers Karim Benzema and Robert Lewandowski.
That is quite some company, but the statistics very much back that up. For example, with 0.68 non-penalty goals per 90 minutes across the past 12 months, Jackson is in the top 2% of all his positional peers across LaLiga.
The Senegal international averaged 0.90 goals and assists per 90 minutes last season, compared to 0.97 for Benzema at Real Madrid, but he performed better in terms of non-penalty goals per 90 – 0.97 v 0.90.
Jackson was more precise than Benzema when it came to shooting last season, too, finding the target from 56.1% of his attempts, which is an improvement on the latter’s 36.4% accuracy.
Benzema did come out on top in terms of aerial duels won between the pair (51.9% v 30.2%), but Jackson’s strengths lie in other departments, such as take-ons (2.08 v 1.95) and tackles won (0.62 v 0.22), showing two different sides to his game.
Still aged just 21, Jackson was labelled “extraordinary” by football talent scout Jacek Kulig for his output in 2022-23, which includes a goal conversion rate of 29%.
To put Jackson’s clinical nature into some perspective, his average of 0.67 goals per 90 minutes came from an expected goals (xG) value of 0.45. At Chelsea last season, Joao Felix led the way with 0.38 goals per 90 minutes, yet this came from an xG of 0.47.
Effectively, that means Jackson requires far fewer chances to put the ball in the net, which is exactly what Chelsea require.
While he may not have the reputation of Benzema and Lewandowski, or indeed Osimhen, Jackson’s performances last season suggest his current £30m valuation will only continue to rise with time. Chelsea would be wise to pounce while they can.