I've had this one done for a bit and was waiting for the transfer window to get a little closer to publish, but with the disappointing loss to Liverpool today I thought posting this now might be appropriate (seeing as they trialed him and didn't feel it was worth offering a contract to him). Hopefully their loss will be our gain...
The transfer rumor mill often pumps out information that makes absolutely no sense, largely due to the tabloid media needing to get page hits and paper sales. Every once in a while you see a rumor that just makes sense though, much like the years long pursuit of Chelsea player Romelu Lukaku. Lately I've been coming across another such rumor that just seems like a no brainer. Ivorian Bony Wilfried has been massively impressive this year since his move to Vitesse, scoring 11 goals in just 17 games so far for the Dutch outfit. As most of you are probably aware, Chelsea and Vitesse have an incredible working relationship over the last several years. At 22 he definitely seems to fit the youth movement AVB has been pushing at Chelsea. We have 3 strikers (Anelka, Drogba, Kalou) who's contracts expire at the end of this season, so adding another body to the mix in the next two windows seems a near certainty. When taking all of these factors into consideration, it seems hard to imagine that a deal couldn't be reached if we are interested in the player.
With all that in mind, it seems like we'd be well served to take a deeper look at the player in question and see how he might potentially fit at Chelsea FC. First and foremost, the player's full name is Wilfried Guemiand Bony. He goes by Bony Wilfried with Vitesse though, so that's what we'll do as well. Bony turns 23 on December 10th, so he should just be reaching the prime years of his career. He stands 6 feet tall and weighs in at about 195 lbs (88kg). While that's not huge by any stretch for the Premier League, he's certainly large enough to be a physical presence to be accounted for.
Beyond his adequate size, Wilfried brings an impressive array of physical gifts to the table. He's always been known as a true speedster. His pace and acceleration will certainly be giving the defense headaches in planning for him, and his workrate has generally been noted as being exceptional as well. He's strong for his size as well, holding his own with his back to a defender on a regular basis. Bony is a good leaper, so the ability to be dangerous in the air off of set pieces is there even if it hasn't translated to the pitch regularly yet. Don't hate on Wilfried for this comment, but he actually reminds me an awful lot of fellow Ivorian Salomon Kalou at a young age.
Positionally he's a versatile player. While he plays predominantly as a center forward for Vitesse, Bony has experience as a right wing, left wing, and off striker. That type of versatility is always nice to have in the squad. His physical tools may actually lend themselves to being more of an attack minded wing or supporting striker, so the fact that he's already played that role for both club and country is valuable experience indeed. In this sense he reminds again of Salomon Kalou or Daniel Sturridge.
On the pitch Wilfried has been a bit of a work in progress for the last several years. In 2007 when he was starting to realize a move to Europe was necessary he was already on the radar of several major clubs. He even trialed at Liverpool who deemed him raw enough that they didn't wish to offer him a contract. Bony eventually made his move to Europe happen, joining Sparta Prague on loan. It didn't take long for the club to decide to make the deal permanent though, and Wilfried became a regular part of the Czech first team over the next several years. By this past winter he had developed well beyond the Czech league and had made his full international debut for the Ivory Coast. Vitesse came calling and snapped him up for a fee believed to be in the region of 5 million pounds. Right now, that's looking like a huge bargain.
I know a good portion of you have probably not seen Bony in action yet, so here's a pair of video clips for you showing highlights of Wilfried. The first features mainly footage from his time in the Czech Republic and international work:
The second one I have for you is mainly a compilation of highlights from his time at Vitesse:
I don't know how many of you have been following Vitesse closely, but with both Tomas Kalas and Ulises Davila currently on loan there and Matic, Delac, and Rajkovic all there last term I've been making it a point to catch nearly every game of theirs. Luckily that has let me see Bony plenty of times, and needless to say I've been impressed. Vitesse are pushing hard to get into the European places in the Netherlands, and Wilfried and Kalas have certainly been their best players thus far this season. Who knows what the future holds for Bony, but I think it's pretty clear that Chelsea will have the inside track if they are indeed interested just due to the relationship between the clubs. If you're watching Vitesse to see our youngsters on loan in action, make it a point to keep an eye on Wilfried as well. Whether or not he ends up at Chelsea in the near future, it seems certain he's going to be making his way to a bigger club at some point soon. For my money he'd be a great addition to the squad (and one that likely wouldn't have a Modric/Pastore-like transfer saga involved).