Chelsea have reached an agreement with Stade Rennais for Lesley Ugochukwu, according to The Athletic. The 19-year-old defensive midfielder will join the West London club this summer.
Apparently, the Blues are still in negotiations with Brighton Albion for Moisés Caicedo. Regardless, they keep preparing and wanting to improve their future.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side already have Cesare Casadei and Andrey Santos as young midfielders. Meanwhile, they are both making waves on their USA pre-season tour.
However, the West London club have chosen to add another brilliant youngster to the squad. Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali aren’t joking around.
Lesley Ugochukwu will join Chelsea for a fee of £23.5 million (€27.5 million). Surprisingly, he’s expected to undergo his medical at the club in the next 24 hours.
The 19-year-old Frenchman has already agreed personal terms with the Blues family. And he will sign a long-term contract with the Premier League side.
However, it’s still undecided if he will stay with the first-team or join Strasbourg on loan. Regardless, the French youngster will arrive at Stamford Bridge.
Having been just 19-year-old, Ugochukwu isn’t Moisés Caicedo’s alternative. The West London club are just gathering reinforcements for their future.
Frankly, it’s unlikely that Lesley will stay with the first-team at Chelsea. Because Andrey Santos and Cesare Casadei are currently making waves on their USA pre-season tour.
Lesley Ugochukwu stats at Stade Rennais in Ligue 1 (2022-2023)
24 appearances (14 starts)
0.1 key passes
88% pass accuracy
0.3 dribbled past
70% dribble success
54% ground duels
70% aerial duels
57% total duels won
In all fairness, Lesley will definitely gain more experience, if he joins Strasbourg on loan. Of course, he spent the 2022-2023 campaign in Ligue 1 at Stade Rennais.
Chelsea haven’t signed a young defensive midfielder in a while. Fortunately, Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali have decided to invest in defensive roles.
The West London club are planning to become the next Brighton Albion in the Premier League. Buying players for a lower fee and selling them for higher fees.
Some top European clubs are interested in Cesare Casadei and Andrey Santos this summer. Obviously, the Blues are going to be unstoppable in the future.
The search for a defensive midfielder has opened the club’s eyes. As a result, they would want to sign the 19-year-old Frenchman, preparing for the future.
Nevertheless, the talks for Moisés Caicedo with the Seagulls are still ongoing. However, Ugochukwu will soon arrive at Stamford Bridge.
Who is Lesley Ugochukwu?
Lesley Ugochukwu is a 19-year-old French-Nigerian defensive midfielder. However, he plays for Stade Rennais and the French national team.
Amazingly, he arrived at Stade Rennais in 2012, he was 9-year-old back then. Meanwhile, Lesley was severally outclassed in the club’s academy.
In July 2020, the French youngster signed his professional contract at the age of 16. He’s considered to be a top defensive midfielder in the future.
Ugochukwu was the second youngster to sign and play for Stade Rennais. He made his Ligue 1 debut in 2021 against Dijon.
Also, he played his second game in the league against Paris Saint-Germain. Meanwhile, he has dazzled impressively since his debut.
After his amazing performances, he penned a contract extension at Stade Rennais until June 2024. Of course, he’s close to finishing his deal at the French club.
The 19-year-old Frenchman started his career as a street footballer. As a result, he tends to establish himself in the top leagues in Europe.
Lesley Ugochukwu strengths and weaknesses
Despite being just 19-year-old, the Frenchman is a standard defensive midfielder. He actually ticks all the boxes, having been above many young DMs in Europe’s top-5 leagues.
Versatility is one of Ugochukwu’s strongest skills. He can comfortably play every available position in the midfield, showing his versatility on the pitch.
The 19-year-old Frenchman can play as a centre-back, defensive midfielder, and central midfielder. Of course, his presence will help the team’s performance.
Another point of positioning. Like Sofyan Amrabat of Fiorentina, the French youngster usually positions himself very well in midfield.
He knows when to move forward or stay back in midfield. His defensive awareness is second to none as a result of his positioning in the midfield.
Even though he’s a defensive midfielder. Lesley is a sound passer, with passing as his strength. He knows to make both short and long passes.
Of course, the Frenchman is 19-year-old. However, he has the ability to reciprocate Declan Rice’s kind of pass in the midfield, helping the team’s performance.
Chelsea’s scouting team has been doing a marvelous job so far since the takeover. They have been signing brilliant and talented players at the club.
Ugochukwu has tackling as another strong skill. Obviously, he averaged 1.4 tackles per 90 minutes in Ligue 1 at Stade Rennais last season.
The French youngster barely commits unnecessary fouls on the pitch. His defensive awareness makes everything easy for him on the pitch.
Having been just 19-year-old, the Frenchman is most likely to be a regular starter at Chelsea in 2024-2025. His tackling prowess is flawless among his mates.
Considering his height, Lesley is amazing at aerial dueling. He won 70% of his aerial duels in Ligue 1 last campaign for Stade Rennais.
Apparently, the French youngster is built for the Premier League. He has the capacity to compete and win the ball in the air with ease.
Speaking of Lesley Ugochukwu’s strengths, he has tactical intelligence. This is actually what places him above many young DMs in Europe’s top-5 leagues.
The French international is wisely tactical. He successfully carries out the manager’s instructions on the pitch, destroying the opponent’s players from the middle.
Another strong skill to consider is his athleticism. The player’s physicality makes him unbeatable on the pitch, he doesn’t lose ball possession easily, regardless of the competition.
Other strengths of Ugochukwu are; teamwork, pace, acceleration, and techniques. Of course, he’s a young defensive midfielder with a high ceiling.
Lesley doesn’t have any significant weaknesses. Of course, his 2022-2023 season at Stade Rennais in Ligue 1 was flawless, making waves at the club.
However, the 19-year-old Frenchman is poor in decision making. He should work on his ability to make defensive decisions on the pitch.
Also, Ugochukwu isn’t creative enough. Obviously, he averaged 0.1 key passes per 90 minutes last season, which is somehow awful.
Nevertheless, he can actually get better under Mauricio Pochettino, learning from his teammates. Chelsea have gotten another real gem this summer’s transfer window.
What is Lesley Ugochukwu position?
Frankly, the 19-year-old Frenchman is very versatile. As a result, he can play multiple roles in the midfield as a midfielder.
However, his natural position is the defensive role. He’s a ball-playing defensive midfielder, going back and forth on the pitch.
At the same time, Ugochukwu can play as a centre-back and a central midfielder. That gives Mauricio Pochettino enough depth in the squad.
Of course, the likes of Reece James, Lewis Hall, and Trevoh Chalobah can play as midfielders. But they prefer to play as defenders.
Therefore, Lesley is expected to play as a defensive midfielder at Chelsea. Even though his versatility allows him to play as a centre-back.
Lesley Ugochukwu’s style of play
The French youngster is a holding midfielder, using his physicality and athleticism to control the midfield. Also, he does play a box-to-box role in the midfield.
Despite being a defensive midfielder. Ugochukwu likes to find spaces between the lines, putting his passing prowess into action against the opposition.
More like Moisés Caicedo, it’s difficult to knock Lesley off the ball. His stamina and physicality give him an edge over the opponent.
Even though he’s a defensive midfielder. The 19-year-old Frenchman likes to progress the ball forward, connecting with his teammates.
Lesley doesn’t leave himself open on the pitch. He likes to read the game, position himself brilliantly, and win the ball from the opponent, thanks to his tackling prowess.
Ugochukwu loves close tackling, he has his ways of getting the ball. As a result, the player can establish himself and succeed in the Premier League.
The 19-year-old defensive midfielder likes to play in a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 formation. These formations give him enough space in the midfield to rotate.
Also, the French youngster loves to transit in midfield. Actually, it depends on the manager’s instructions. However, he does everything with ease.
Despite being a DM, the player likes to run with the ball, thanks to his pace and acceleration. He has the ability to set the team’s tempo on counterattacks.
Moreso, he likes to make tackles, interceptions, and clearances. His defensive awareness allows him to do everything flawlessly, despite his age.
Lesley doesn’t bump into the opponent’s players unnecessarily. He watches their movements before making any attempts regarding his tackling prowess.
As a result, he dribbled past just 0.3 in Ligue 1 last season. It shows that he’s a defensive monster, clearing the ball on the pitch.