How would Brighton star Moises Caicedo fit at Chelsea?

Editor’s Note: This story was first printed on July 21 and has been up to date

Chelsea and Brighton & Hove Albion have agreed a British switch document price of £115 million ($146m) for midfielder Moises Caicedo, sources instructed ESPN.

Having fended off curiosity from Arsenal in January — which noticed the 21-year-old publicly push for a transfer earlier than extending his contract till 2027 — Brighton accepted a £111m bid from Liverpool final week, which noticed Chelsea enter the race once more. The Blues upped their bid from £80m and pays an preliminary £100m in assured funds with an extra £15m in add-ons. Caicedo needed to maneuver solely to Stamford Bridge, which was key in getting a deal over the road.

The Ecuador worldwide’s profession has skyrocketed since becoming a member of Brighton in August 2021 from Independiente del Valle, a membership famend for its first-class academy, for simply £4m. He was despatched out on mortgage to Beerschot in Belgium to realize expertise immediately, however when he returned Caicedo took little time to search out his ft within the Premier League, establishing himself one of many high younger midfielders within the recreation throughout his first full marketing campaign.

Here’s the lowdown on Chelsea’s potential new arrival.

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What makes him so particular?

Last season’s stats provide sure clues. Caicedo ranked second within the Premier League for tackles (100, at 39.1% success charge) and second for interceptions (56), each essential metrics on which to evaluate a central midfielder primarily lauded for his defensive capabilities.

He was ranked eighth in ball restoration (248) and repeatedly wins it again by way of his wonderful positioning and fast considering, then fills the gaps the place cowl is required. In addition, he helps the transition with swift constructive passing, which permits his extra attacking teammates to catch the opposition off stability on the counterattack.

Then there’s the speed at which he retains doing the suitable factor, recreation after recreation, virtually with out fail. His 32 senior worldwide caps for Ecuador at the age of 21 can be a powerful indicator of his maturity. Though Caicedo’s improvement is nowhere close to completed but, his consistency, work ethic and tactical are already method above what would be anticipated from top-level footballers of their early 20s.

“He came in quite late to the academy — he was about to turn 15. He was a pretty humble young kid; he didn’t get much playing time the first year but he was always very open, focused, consistent and reliable. He always offered his best effort at every training session and was willing to listen and receive guidance from his coaches. He was an ideal kid to work with in that sense.

“He was the type of expertise that whispered moderately than shouted; you could not actually inform that he would develop into one of the vital needed defensive midfielders on this planet just some years later.” — Luis Roggiero, Sporting Director at Independiente del Valle when Caicedo joined the club.

While some other central/defensive midfielders across Europe might be equally diligent in the “damaging” side of the game, it’s worth emphasising that Caicedo has proven exceptionally reliable in possession (88.8% pass completion last season, with an 83% success rate on long passes) and drives the ball forward like an expert No. 8. Indeed, his impact as an attacking force tends to be understated, even though when he carries the ball into the final third it often leads to a scoring chance for Brighton.

With an impressive work rate, tactical discipline, physical power and athleticism, Caicedo is remarkably efficient at what he does well. He perfectly blends the skillset of a classic No. 6 and No. 8 without any drop in quality. And the manner in which the youngster relishes every challenge suggests he will go far.

“I keep in mind when he was 17, he didn’t make the crew that was going to play within the Copa Mitad del Mundo — an vital U18 match that Independiente organises every year — as a result of he was getting back from an damage. But at the final second we had one other participant injured so we known as him into the crew.

“Caicedo had just travelled for four or five hours on an uncomfortable bus back to his house. We called him hoping he hadn’t left yet but he was already home, so we asked him to come back. He had to take another long bus trip but ended up becoming a starter in that tournament, which we won, and from there on he never stopped.

“Later that season, we went to play at a match in Spain the place he put in one other unimaginable efficiency. At the tip of that season, he was promoted to the primary crew with a view to easing him in for the following season, however he was already coping so nicely with the calls for of the primary crew, he exceeded expectations and acquired taking part in time.” Roggierio

How would he fit at Chelsea?

Under Mauricio Pochettino, if he is fielded in a double pivot (similar to the tactical setup at Brighton) that should make him compatible with Argentina midfielder Enzo Fernandez, who was signed for £106.8m in January.

Caicedo tended to leave the lion’s share of creative duties to either Pascal Gross or Alexis Mac Allister, so his roaming presence in central areas should free up room for Fernandez to shine.

Though Caicedo is capable of performing playmaking duties himself, Fernandez’s ability to pick line-breaking passes or spread lateral switch balls is arguably his main strength. Having the Ecuadorian alongside him will ensure that he is able to concentrate on these.

Is he similar to N’Golo Kante in style?

With his incredible stamina, it’s easy to envisage Caicedo covering vast areas in midfield and sweeping up loose balls in the mould of Kante. The Frenchman, who left on a free transfer to join Saudi Arabia’s Al Ittihad this summer, has a rather distinctive style that is not the easiest to replicate, but it has proven to be incredibly successful over recent years.

At the peak of his powers for Chelsea in 2016-17, Kante was second in tackles (127, at 47.4% success rate), sixth for interceptions (82) and second for ball recovery (275) in two fewer games. Similar stats to Caicedo.

Yet, don’t be surprised if the Ecuadorian ups his attacking input at Chelsea as his enormous work radius also brings him into highly advantageous positions in and around the opposing penalty area.

In the 2016-17 season, Kante created 22 chances (key passes plus assists) for his Chelsea teammates and had 27 shots, while Caicedo made 43 chances and took 28 shots in 2022-23 for Brighton. So you can expect him to have an impact at both ends of the pitch.

Where can he improve?

Caicedo is still prone to excessive fouling, which is a result of his high-energy, all-encompassing style. He could also convert more of his chances to goals as he enters the box and up his creativity in the final third.

But, primarily, he will need to ensure that he keeps up his high level of performances in a new environment, rather than add new facets to his game.

“What has occurred with Brighton is simply extra affirmation of Caicedo with the ability to carry out at the extent that’s demanded — and even higher than that. I would guess that wherever his subsequent step is, from what he has proven us up to now, he ought to be capable of carry on that very same path.” Roggierio

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