Chelsea seem to be in the market for a (backup) striker, with reported interested in Leipzig’s Timo Werner, Lyon’s Moussa Dembele and PSG’s Edinson Cavani, and the potential departures of Olivier Giroud and/or Michy Batshuayi. A fresh name that’s been linked with the Blues is that of 24-year-old Habib Diallo,
While the report from Republican Lorrain states no more than the amount of Chelsea’s purported €20m offer for the striker, it’s a move that might make some semblance of sense if the club are looking explicitly at a second-choice striker with some resale value.
After signing from Reims in the summer of 2018, Diallo had his break-out season in Metz’s promotion-winning campaign (alongside one Victorien Angban, formerly of Chelsea!), scoring 26 times and assisting 6 goals as well. Ten (10!) of those goals came from penalties but the striker still scored from open play at a healthy rate of once every two games and was involved in the immediate build-up of a goal once every four games. He was played in a similar role to Tammy Abraham’s at Chelsea currently, holding up the ball and getting on the end of moves with heavy penalty-box involvement. While he didn’t actually set the league alight with his goalscoring exploits (thanks, penalties!), what’s encouraging is that his goal return has almost seamlessly translated to Ligue 1 this season despite Metz languishing in 17th place.
In Ligue 1, he’s maintained a similar role in the team and still going at nearly one goal in two games (0.48 goals-per-90). Perhaps influenced by headers, that scores lower on some Expected Goal models. His xG has always been merely above-average, putting him on course for a goal every three games but like last season, he has been out-performing this metric, scoring nearly 4 goals more than expected. Otherwise, he’s still shooting a healthy amount and getting a good percentage of his efforts on target.
One might argue that Diallo is about to enter his prime years as a striker and profiles similarly to Tammy Abraham, lying somewhere between the styles of Michy Batshuayi and Olivier Giroud. In doing so, this move might just make some sense.
But when put in context with Chelsea’s pursuit of Moussa Dembele and Timo Werner, it also boggles the mind. Are the club playing the safe option for this window? Has this been an unnecessarily long piece of analysis for a few words from a dodgy source? One would suppose only time will tell.