Chelsea have reportedly been in pursuit of Declan Rice this summer, as the Blues look to land a top midfielder to their already impressive midfield catalogue. But even though the West Ham midfielder sounds like a player that would fit right into the club – considering that he was at the club academy until the age of 14 and is very well acquainted with the English contingent of Mason Mount, Ben Chilwell, and Reece James – his listed price of £100 million is a put-off. And with Rice still having four years left on his West Ham contract, Chelsea might have to look for cheaper alternatives.
One of the cheaper alternatives that have reportedly appealed to the Blues is 21-year-old AS Monaco midfielder Aurélien Tchouaméni. Tchouaméni is a French-Cameroonian midfielder who excelled for Monaco in the Ligue 1 last season and also represented France U21 in the UEFA U21 European Championship this summer.
While he majorly plays as a defensive midfielder for Monaco, Tchouaméni is a versatile talent who can play anywhere across midfield – as vouched for by his current teammate and former Chelsea midfield maestro Cesc Fàbregas. The French international has played most of his games for Monaco as part of a two-man midfield and could fit right into Tuchel’s ‘double six’ alongside Jorginho, Mateo Kovacic, or N’Golo Kanté.
Aurélien Tchouaméni plays in a Monaco side that press very high up the pitch, and he is one of the main cogs of the pressing machine – the French midfielder has averaged 19.28 pressures per 90 minutes since the start of last season. His experience of playing in a high-pressing possession system will help him get used to Thomas Tuchel’s system as well as the intense pace of the Premier League. And despite playing in a possession system, Tchouaméni has very decent defensive numbers – averaging 6.05 tackles and interceptions per 90 since the beginning of last season.
As a contrast, Rice averages 4.53 tackles and interceptions despite playing in a much more defensive system. Tchouaméni is also statistically a better presser, as Rice averages only 15.8 pressures per 90.
Aurélien Tchouaméni’s passing ability is underrated, as he has made 4.76 progressive passes per 90 and 2.2 long balls per 90 at a completion rate of 58% since the beginning of last season – while Rice has made only 2.97 progressive passes per 90. He is also more of an aerial threat than Rice, as he has won 2.70 aerial duels per 90 compared to Declan Rice’s 1.41.
Fabrizio Romano reported earlier this month that Petr Cech is a big fan of the midfielder, and could look to bring him to Stamford Bridge if Chelsea fails to agree on a reasonable fee with West Ham for Rice.
And when one considers the difference in the price tags of both midfielders, it makes sense for the Blues to acquire the much cheaper target – considering how Tchouaméni has the upper hand in most comparable metrics.
Keeping Chelsea’s desperate pursuit of an expensive Erling Haaland in mind, Tchouaméni seems like the more logical option to save up the big bucks for the big-money centre-forward – and add a cut-price and yet key midfield reinforcement.