Another French center back makes the move to Stamford Bridge this summer as Axel Disasi joins the Blues for €40 million. With Disasi on his way to Chelsea, the electric pairing of Axel Disasi and Benoit Badiashile is reunited, the two were phenomenal at both AS Monaco and for France’s Under 21s.
Disasi is another addition to an extremely deep Chelsea squad who look to improve on their 12th-place finish from last season. While Chelsea’s defense wasn’t the root of their problems, new manager Mauricio Pochettino looks to put his mark on the defense with his first defensive signing.
Disasi is a physically gifted center back winning 2.54 arrivals per 90 minutes. He uses his physical build to challenge opposition strikers and dispossess them. Disasi does a phenomenal job of being right on the attacker’s back when receiving the ball, not allowing him to turn. He closes down the space rapidly and uses his physical attributes to make the opposition attacker uncomfortable receiving the ball.
The Frenchman brings a new aspect to the Chelsea defense and in particular the center back position, progression. Disasi is one of the best progressive center backs in all of world football. He is very calm on the ball and an extremely technical dribbler out of the back. He averages 1.70 progressive carries up the pitch per 90 minutes, placing him in the 96th percentile of all center backs.
Disasi looks to advance to goal and carries the ball almost as a progressive central midfielder starting the attack for the team. He is extremely quick and is able to recover extremely well. While usually, he is the one challenging in the air with the other center back playing in the recovery role, Disasi possesses the ability to play the recovery role as well.
He is known to be a leader of the backline and team on the pitch. At only 25 years of age, Disasi possesses leadership qualities that are far beyond his years. He is a very vocal presence in organizing the back line which is extremely valuable for Chelsea who struggled last season without captain Thiago Silva in the team.
As Thiago Silva approaches 39, injuries have become more frequent and last season without him in the center of the pitch Chelsea looked unorganized and nervous at the back. Disasi would offer a sense of calm and organization that is crucial for any Premier League side.
Standing at 6 foot 3 inches, combined with his elite jumping ability, Disasi is able to win headers on set pieces both in defense and attack. Disasi had 6 goals and 4 assists in all competitions this season which is extremely high for a center back, showcasing his ability on set pieces and his progressive nature. He primarily plays as a central defender but can also fill in at the right back position. By providing squad depth and being extremely versatile Disasi can adapt to any defensive position.
Oftentimes, Disasi struggles with agility, his ability to turn and react to opposition movements is sometimes delayed due to his stocky build. In one vs one situations, Disasi struggles with opponents who change pace while dribbling. This is a major concern as some of the most talented dribblers in the world excel at this, which could be easily exploited.
Mauricio Pochettino has implemented a traditional back four, however, Chelsea’s fullbacks are very attacking individuals with both Reece James and Ben Chillwell looking to join the attack. When fullbacks advance up the pitch, center backs must cover the space and are often dragged out wide and put into one-vs-one situations vs wingers. In these situations, when going up against players who excel in changing direction and speed, Diasi may be exploited.
He often struggles with long passing, while he is able to make short passes he often lacks composure when finding teammates long. While he often isn’t able to find the long pass, he is always looking to break the opposition’s defensive lines by penetrating passes. According to FBRef, Disasi completes 5.80 progressive passes per 90 minutes putting him in the 96th percentile of all center backs.
Disasi is an extremely physically gifted center back who is phenomenal defensively;ly and offers a progressive skill set that is very rare for center backs to possess. This unique skill set makes him an extremely exciting signing for Chelsea. However, due to the extreme number of players in the squad especially in the center back role, this move may halt Disasi’s development. With six other center backs in the squad and manager Mauricio Pochettino playing a traditional back four, game time will be extremely competitive.
As Chelsea didn’t qualify for any European competitions, there are fewer fixtures this season making game time even scarcer. If Axel Disasi is able to showcase his unique skill set in the opportunities he is given, he could be an important asset for Chelsea this season.
By: Jackson Maynard / @JacksonMaynar17
Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Mike Hewitt – FIFA