Over the last few days the name of 20 year old Ulises Davila has been popping up in various locations around the internet in connection with Chelsea. Davila doesn't fit the mold of the typical baseless rumor, as he's both young enough and unestablished enough that 99.9% of the English press probably weren't aware that he existed until the last few days. The fact that Davila (who recently turned 20 and plays for Mexican side Chivas Guadalajara) is starting to pop up as a target for under 2 million pounds probably at least indicates the club have some legitimate interest in the player, as I really think sources like the Sun and the Daily Fail would just be too lazy to research any young Mexicans just to make up a rumor.
Davila is a player who I had never heard of earlier this year, but have recently seen an awful lot of the youngster and been quite impressed. He's started every game for the Mexican U20 team in this summer's CONCACAF Championships and FIFA World Cup, and having watched those competitions pretty religiously I've seen quite a bit of him in the past several months. Mexico featured prominently in both competitions, winning the CONCACAF championships fairly easily and finishing 3rd in the World Cup. He stood out as one of the better players in both tournaments and I'm sure Chelsea had a fair number of scouts in attendance for both, so after the jump we'll take a look at what they might have seen that caught their eye.
The 20 year old stands 5'9" tall, and he weighs in the neighborhood of 160 lbs. While not huge by any stretch, he probably has enough size to play in England without too much trouble. He's generally deployed in an attacking midfield role (centrally or on either flank), but coming through the youth ranks has also seen time as a supporting striker and on both wings. From my own experience watching him he doesn't appear to be significantly stronger with either foot, and most scouting reports I've read indicate the same.
There isn't any one skill that Davila possesses that really stands out at this point, but he really doesn't have much in the way of glaring deficiencies either. He's good with the ball at his feet, a solid passer, can hit a cross fairly well, and doesn't seem to have Kalou-like issues with finishing. He's fast but not a burner, and he sems to hold his own in the air for a smallish guy. He's solid defensively from what I've seen, but his responsibilities from the U20 competition seem to consist of high pressure immediately after turnovers.
The thing that's most impressed me with Davila is his very solid work rate. The guy is constantly moving, making runs from deep and never failing to track back. Anything he currently lacks in skills he makes up for with sheer effort. He actually reminds me of fellow Mexican and former Chivas teammate Javier Hernandez and our own Ramires in that regard, and I'm a huge fan of players who never stop running. That trait alone is one that I feel can help him succeed, and it's probably the thing I feel is holding back uber-talented Gael Kakuta more than anything else at this point.
I couldn't find any video tracking Davila alone, but here's a quick look at Davila's scoring from the tournaments this summer:
I know you can't gather all that much from watching a few highlights, but at least you get a look at who he is. Luckily for you there are plenty of full games you can watch if you're interested. ESPN3 has all of the CONCACAF and FIFA games archived in their replay section, so if you have the time and really want to see him in action just watch any of the games Mexico has played in (he started them all).
If we do in fact buy Davila, rumor has it that he'll immediately be sent on loan to Vitesse Arnham where he'll join young Tomas Kalas. As a Mexican, Davila would need to be granted a work permit to play in England. He's probably not yet ready to contribute here so that's not a pressing issue at the moment. He'll also likely be making his debut for the Mexican senior side in the coming few months (and Mexico have the luxury of playing their youngsters often in a weak federation), so hopefully that permit won't be an issue down the line.
I'd be thrilled if we managed to add this kid for under 2 million pounds. He's certainly got the potential to be very good, although he's a bit raw at the moment. I really can't forsee any situation where we can't at least recoup that transfer fee, however, as his talent ought to make him worth at least that much even if his development stalls. If we have any Chivas fans out there, I'd love to hear any thoughts you might have on the youngster. Let's keep our fingers crossed that this one has some legs.