John Terry could be facing a lengthy ban. Branislav Ivanovic is our starting right back. David Luiz has been injured enough over the last 6 months that there is a bit of concern about his knees. Many Chelsea fans just don't like John Obi Mikel. Oriol Romeu may or may not eventually head back to Barcelona. With all of those things in mind, it seemed only a matter of time before we were linked to another player that would reinforce those positions.
That link we've all been expecting has been popping up over the last several days, with Chelsea repeatedly being linked to Anderlecht defender Cheikhou Kouyaté. Chelsea scout Tony White has reportedly already been in contact with the Belgian club over a transfer, and Anderlecht are indeed a club he's been following closely over the past several years. Should Chelsea sign him, that would be 5 new players from Anderlecht in the past 3 windows making their way to Cobham.
Despite playing in Belgium, Kouyate would not fit the growing stereotype of Belgian players making their way to Stamford Bridge. Kouyate is Senegalese, and those of you who followed the Olympics closely are surely aware of the hulking defender. With that in mind, Kouyate would not be guaranteed a work permit, although he's seemingly on the verge of being granted Belgian citizenship which would qualify him anyway. At just 22 years of age and coming off of a very impressive Olympic showing, it seems logical that Kouyate will also start to get regular callups to the senior national team.
So what makes Kouyate interesting to all of these Premier League teams? First and foremost, it's his size. Standing 6'4" tall, he's very well built as well. He's built like a destroyer, and he's got the strength and balance required to play like one as well. From what I've seen of him, he's fast enough to make up for mistakes, although that could certainly change if he continues to fill out. Kouyate is already a big boy at the age of 22.
Technically, Kouyate isn't too bad either. One thing he's often noted for is being very calm on the ball. That doesn't mean he's shown great passing range, but he's generally been very good at avoiding turnovers. That's something that you'd want from a centerback, but those of you who hate Mikel because he's not providing enough killer passes will probably not much care for the 22 year old version of Kouyate.
On set pieces, Kouyate is also very dangerous. He's not the greatest finisher with his feet, but boy can he be a headache in the air. He also does a pretty good job in reading the play, and because of that he's not caught out of position all that often. I'm only going to have one video for you today, as it's just not that easy to find decent highlight reels of young defensive players.
I love the first goal. It's pretty rare to see a center back get moving like he does in that one. He's not the most refined player ever, but he's certainly got the size and athleticism to be a stalwart in the Premier League. There's also enough of his former teammates roaming around London that I'd have to think it will be a comfortable transition.
The rumored price on Kouyate is somewhere around €7 million, and that seems to be pretty fair to me. He's young, talented, and seemingly fills an area in which Chelsea could use some more depth, so I wouldn't be upset at all to learn that Chelsea signed Kouyate. With that in mind, he seems like the kind of guy that we might be laying future groundwork for, or possibly considering a buy with a loan back to the club. Anderlecht will be facing off against Limassol with Champions League qualification on the line next week, so there's a good chance that Kouyate will be cup tied for the Champions League this season anyway. If nothing else though, maybe now you have a CL qualifier that you should be tuning into.