With Cesc Fabregas off to the beautiful coastline of Monaco, we are left without a legitimate replacement or backup for Jorginho, when he needs a rest, or heaven forbid, if he picks up an injury. Chelsea have been linked with replacements in Nicolò Barella (for his versatility), and Leandro Paredes (for his “Jorginho-ness”). I’d however suggest another potential candidate in Julian Weigl.
Now nearly forgotten and on the bench at Dortmund (after Tuchel left for the loftier potentials at PSG), Weigl was at one point everyone’s favorite future DLP/DM and constantly talked about. Often likened to Sergio Busquets for his style of play, he’s a fantastic deep-lying playmaker, a serviceable defensive midfielder, and very comparable to Jorginho statistically.
It should be pointed out that Paredes, who’s been likened to Xabi Alonso (is this a Ford vs Chevy type situation or what?), is statistically also very comparable to Jorginho, but has a bit more versatility in more advanced midfield positions. He’s also a year older, and valued at about 60% more than the €25m-rated Weigl.
One other positive for Paredes is that he did play for a year on loan to Empoli, the season after Sarri left, but under a coach who also subscribes to the tenets of Sarrismo. He’s also currently playing big minutes in Russia, whereas Weigl really hasn’t played at all this year. He did have three solid seasons under Tuchel.
I’ve watched all three players a fair amount over the last few years, even suggesting Paredes last summer prior to our signing of Jorginho, and suggesting Weigl, whom I really like, the summer before that. I’ve put together some Pro/Con bullet points from my reading/viewing.
Julian Weigl — The Next Busquets?
- Intelligent positioning
- Very Composed on the ball
- Not bothered by a high press
- Good at movement after making the pass, will often occupy vacant spaces to allow return passes or move defenders
- Good tracking back
- Keeps it simple
- Alert Defensively
- Great long ball diagonal passer and good at vertical low balls
- Not very physical at all
- Not fast
- Keeps it simple
- Not going to give you much final third output or results
Leandro Paredes – The next Xabi Alonso?
- Good at switching play
- a mature understanding of the game
- adept at dictating terms of play
- Good precision with the ball
- Good set piece taker
- Able to provide cover at CM
- Not a physical player
- Not fast
- Known to have a temper on the pitch, and let it lead to fouling
Evaluation of Metrics
I’ve put together some metrics for comparison, and it’s impressive how similar these three players are. I used totals over a multiple year period, to account for year-to-year fluctuation, plus I didn’t want to make charts for every single year.
- For Paredes, I used 2015/16 – 2018/19, league play.
- For Weigl, I used 2015/16 – 2017/18, league play. He’s played so little this year that the numbers are not going to be representative of what we’d see, due to sample size issues
- For Jorginho, I used 2014/15 – 2018/19, league play. He’s older, so I wanted to try to capture a bit of a broader stroke, and starting with his first full season under Sarri at Napoli.
I put radar charts for “Defense”, “Ball Possession”, and “Distribution” chart. I’m pretty much ignoring shooting, goals, and assists, because those metrics (small as they may be in any case) are simply a bonus in this position rather than something of consequence.
- Tackles Won per 90
- Tackle Success Rate
- Blocks per 90
- Clearances per 90
- Fouls Committed per 90
- Interceptions per 90
- Dribbles Won per 90
- Dribble Success Rate
- Unsuccessful Touches per 90
- Times Dispossessed per 90
- Aerials Won per 90
- Aerials Success Rate
- Times Fouled per 90
- Pass Attempts per 90
- Long Ball Attempts per 90
- Long Ball Success Rate
- Short Pass Attempts per 90
- Short Pass Success Rate
As similar as the charts may be, Weigl is likely give a bit more defensively, and he’s definitely better in the air, but he’s not giving much in attack. He’s a bit better with the ball at his feet, too.
Paredes gives more going forward, with more flexibility, and a bit more maturity. I think both Paredes and Weigl are phenomenally comparable to Jorginho, but Paredes might give us that extra bit of central midfield flexibility (at nearly twice the price).
I don’t think we could go wrong either way. I’d probably lean towards Weigl, as he’s a much more affordable option, more available/expendable at Dortmund right now, and might be more willing to be a backup to Jorginho. But I’d be happy with either.
(The KP numbers are excluding corners and free kicks, as Paredes is often the taker of those, so his numbers become incredibly skewed otherwise)