Tribal Football

Dewsbury-Hall & Chelsea: Another for a crowded midfield? Or the end of Gallagher & Carney?

Dewsbury-Hall & Chelsea: Another for a crowded midfield? Or the end of Gallagher & Carney?
Dewsbury-Hall & Chelsea: Another for a crowded midfield? Or the end of Gallagher & Carney?
Dewsbury-Hall & Chelsea: Another for a crowded midfield? Or the end of Gallagher & Carney?Action Plus
COMMENT: Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall and Chelsea. First they nicked their players. Then their staff. And now it's their transfer targets...

Another Brighton-connected player pops up at Stamford Bridge. Dewsbury-Hall, by all accounts, was on his way to Falmer stadium. A deal between Leicester City and Brighton agreed which would've seen the Poland midfielder, Jakub Moder, moving in the opposite direction.

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But then Chelsea, getting wind of the deal, stepped in. Offered £30m in cash. Convinced the player (or at least it was his old gaffer Enzo Maresca who did the chatting up). And the move was sealed. Chelsea had another midfielder through the doors. And Brighton, thanks (again) to Chelsea, were left empty-handed.

But for Chelsea, is this overkill? As we say it's another midfielder. Good player, no doubt. An outstanding Championship player, certainly. But does he arrive at Cobham to improve on what they have? Or does Dewsbury-Hall simply join as one of many.

As former Blue Emmanuel Petit said just this week, "...don’t they have enough players already?

“I think they have enough players. If they want to bring more players, they need to sell first. I mean, before thinking about bringing new players, try to sell some of them."

A favour for Maresca? Perhaps. And it is clear that the Italian has viewed Dewsbury-Hall's progress under his guidance as a personal project. Maresca, last season, moving the player not only inside into a central position, but also rebuilding the midfield structure around the 25 year-old.

Maresca said of Dewsbury-Hall last term:  "Kiernan is probably the player that since we have started I can realise he has improved more than the rest. Now in this moment, he has the calmness that that kind of player needs

"At the beginning, he was full of responsibility because he’s from the academy and after relegation, these things. After the first international break, he calmed down, and now if you’re watching the game as a fan, it’s a pleasure to watch Kiernan and see how calm he is.

"He's fantastic with the ball, he knows when to attack and what to give the team. He is so dangerous near the box, and has the quality to score or assist from anywhere. He’s always giving the pass, getting assists."

But either way, Dewsbury-Hall's signing does raise questions - particularly for the likes of Conor Gallagher, Carney Chukwuemeka... and even Enzo Fernandez.

Twelves goals in Leicester's Championship winning campaign last season. 14 assists. All out of midfield and across 44 league games. Dewsbury-Hall was outstanding for the Foxes. As Maresca says, he is a truly multi-dimensional midfielder. 

He can beat a player. He can pass through the lines. He can hold onto the ball and he'll get his foot in when needed. Further, he has that knack all great midfielders have of timing his late runs into the opposition box. Dewsbury-Hall is capable of consistently getting his head onto crosses when arriving from deep. 

But just where does this leave those fellow Blues midfielders? At a pinch, Gallagher and Dewsbury-Hall could complement eachother. The England international viewed stronger defensively inside the club than their new addition. But how will Maresca accommodate Enzo? 

One of the arguments between Mauricio Pochettino, Maresca's predecessor, and the top brass last season was his deployment of the Argentine. Poch's preference to have Enzo playing deeper, rankling those upstairs. If the World Cup winner is to be pushed further forward, there'll be little room for Dewsbury-Hall. And there'll be even less for Chukwuemeka.

The good money is on Gallagher's sale now being certain after this deal. But can it only be a coincidence that in the week that Dewsbury-Hall arrives, we're learning that not only does Chukwuemeka's contract carries a buyout clause - to the tune of £40m - but that Chelsea will not be entertaining loan proposals? Suddenly the U17 World Cup winner has a price. And for his potential, it's realistic. Two years into his time at Stamford Bridge. Given scant chance of proving himself. It would seem crazy to sell Chukwuemeka in such circumstances. But could anyone really put it past this Chelsea not to do that...?

So Gallagher goes. Chukwuemeka too. And in their place is a 25 year-old from Leicester who was all set on joining mid-table Brighton before Maresca's intervention. Just what are Chelsea building towards?

But that's glass half-empty stuff (or is it just football realism?). For the player he is. For his character. This column is a fan of Dewsbury-Hall. A Bryan Robson-type, though not quite as ruthless in the tackle. But those late runs into the box last season were Robson-esque - and credit to Maresca for spotting this underplayed strength in Dewsbury-Hall's game.

For Championship level, he has everything - "He's one of the best at this level," so said Mark Robins, the Coventry City manager. But Chelsea? The top four? The Champions League? Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall has it all to prove.