Lesley Ugochukwu: Chelsea’s Latest Ligue 1 Recruit

Chelsea rarely do business quietly, as evidenced by their drawn-out pursuit of Moises Caicedo and eventual Premier League-record transfer, but when reports emerged that the Blues had agreed a £23.5 million deal with Rennes for 19-year-old midfielder Lesley Ugochukwu, journalists were left scrambling for information on the Frenchman. No puff piece, no smear campaign, no time to laud or lambast him. So, who is Ugochukwu, and what can fans expect from him? 


Despite being an unknown quantity to many in England, Ugochukwu already has 60 senior appearances to his name. Listed in the 2023 Golden Boy Index, the rangy midfielder has made quite the impression during his time in France. Typically, a defensive midfielder, his languid frame allows him to be a presence in both boxes. Combining long strides and tight touches to win back possession and progress the ball through the midfield. 


Moises Caicedo – Meteoric Feels Insufficient


Strong physical and technical foundations have allowed Ugochukwu to compete far beyond his years, but as scout and writer @CFCCentral3 alludes to, consistency is still a major factor in the youngster’s development.


“Ugochukwu’s a peculiar, rare profile. At 188cm, he’s got strides that eat up space, the elegance to waltz through pressure and qualities that suit a B2B mid (box-to-box midfielder.) However, he has featured heavily as a DM (a position he admits to liking.) He has a strong technical base, two-footed passing & athleticism that extends the range of defensive actions.


The issue is that at 19, he can frustrate by not utilising his gifts to the fullest. His out-of-possession defensive nous and influence in attack notably need work. For €27m, Chelsea have a prodigious talent, but with questionable consistency and plenty of refining still left to do.”


Chelsea know success under Mauricio Pochettino won’t be instantaneous, hence a willingness to bet on the potential of young players like Ugochukwu. But with that in mind, it has not yet been decided whether the France U-19 international is ready for the rigours of Premier League football. 


Romeo Lavia: What Makes the Teenage Midfielder Such a Special Talent?


Despite being given a squad number ahead of the new season, reports of a loan move to Strasbourg have been gathering pace since his arrival, and with Romeo Lavia set to join and add even more competition to midfield following the arrival of Caicedo, that may be a wise decision. Despite playing the final five minutes of their 1-1 draw to Liverpool, Ugochukwu may be best served with yet another year in France before looking to challenge for a first-team spot at Stamford Bridge.


By: Sam Tabuteau / @TabuteauS

Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Darren Walsh / Chelsea FC