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Blues’ striker crisis solved?

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A country brimming with confidence both on and off the football pitch. Senegal have developed into a force to be reckoned with in the beautiful game and their rise has been one to keep an eye on.

From Sadio Mane, Kalidou Koulibaly and Ismaila Sarr, the African contingent keep on producing talents like never before. Next up on the production line from Senegal is Nicolas Jackson.

The Villarreal forward has had a breakthrough 2022/23 season and is already closing in on a move to Chelsea. But that’s not it. The ride has been a bumpier one than that suggested by many to be a walk in the park.

The Senegalese striker is a rare case of raw talent with exceptional output so early on in his career. Born on June 20, 2001, In Gambia, Jackson chose to represent Senegal which was possible because of his dual citizenship. It is also not every day that you are compared to one of the best attackers of your generation. And so has been the case with Jackson, who has been dubbed the Senegalese Neymar.

After beginning his senior football career with Senegal Ligue 1 side Casa Sports in 2018, he also received his first call-up for the U20 Senegal national team in 2019. After an outstanding season with Casa Sports, Villarreal came calling and it was a no-brainer for the striker to join the Spanish top-flight team.

Since then he hasn’t looked back and has been putting in exceptional performances for the Yellow Submarines right from the word go. The Senegalese will be out of contract next summer and is already attracting interest from the rest of Europe. But is he really worth the gamble and investment, who is said to have a $40m release clause?

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Nicolas Jackson analysis

Nicolas Jackson hasn’t always had the easy way like most of the other footballers. The Senegalese wasn’t put straight into the Villarreal first-team and had to show his value in the development squad first.

He played most of his Villarrealgamea in the 2022/23 season for the B team but also regularly trained with the first-team. The forward helped the Villarreal B team gain promotion back to Spain’s second division in the 2021/22 season which also saw him gain some first-team minutes.

This term, he has started as he means to go on with the first team, scoring on his first appearance since the kick-off. At the age of 21, he is a talent that some clubs have kept tabs on.

Nicolas Jackson stats

Nicolas Jackson is a different breed of a number 9. For a striker of his height(187cm), he has got a lot of pace to burn and his dribbling ability is not many strikers in modern-day football can match.

He makes good use of his height as well inside the box to win headers and will be something crucial he will add to the Chelsea ranks. An energetic forward to likes to press, Pochettino will have his kind of striker and at 21, he has time to work on his flaws.

Looking at his pace, height, ability to finish and dribbling skills, Jackson looks like a complete forward and will be a great addition to the Premier League. The Senegal striker had 16 goal contributions in the 2022/23 season, which is very good for a 21-year-old who plays for an average club in the Spanish top-flight.

12 goals and 4 assists later, Jackson looks like someone who could match Premier League’s physicality and mentality at the same time. Not many players have been able to do .both after a switch to the English top-flight, but the Chelsea target strikes just about the perfect balance between them


Nicolas Jackson scout report

What Jackson has shown in his short career so far is his exceptional ability to link up play for his teammates. He uses the big frame of his body to protect the ball and can assist his teammates who might find themselves in plenty of space.

As previously mentioned, his exceptional dribbling ability for a striker helps him skip past an opponent or two which in turn allows him to supply balls from dangerous positions. Such ball-control abilities are rare and are only seen in players like Harry Kane in modern football.

Jackson’s unpredictability is what helps him stand out from the other young strikers in the game. He still needs to work on his decision-making, and while that is a very small thing when compared to so many of his other skill sets, the Villarreal striker very well knows the flaws in his game.


Nicolas Jackson transfer news

In the January window of 2023, English clubs like Bournemouth and Aston Villa were in a tussle to get the Senegal striker. A move failed to materialise back then since Villarreal wanted to keep him for the remainder of the season.

Fast forward to the end of the season, four clubs are ready to pay his release clause of $40m in full and Chelsea are one of them. It is said that despite so many offers on the table for the Senegalese, Jackson only wants a move to Stamford Bridge and it looks as if it is only a matter of time.

Chelsea are ready to sell a number of players this summer after realising a bloated squad was one of the reasons for their turmoil last season. Kai Havertz is edging closer to a move to London rivals Arsenal and Pochettino will only be left with Armando Broja and David Fofana as first-team strikers.

Both of them have still a lot to learn and Jackson’s signing will only be beneficial for all parties involved, in terms of competition, considering the Senegalese’s contract extension squabbles at Villarreal.

Nicolas Jackson has the potential to become the best strike of the 21st century with the right coaching, plus he already has the right skill set.

*This article is sponsored by Tech Mahindra’s sports vertical. India’s only Formula E Championship participant, Mahindra Racing has appointed the IT consultation and business services provider, Tech Mahindra as the digital transformation partner of the greenest racing brand in the tournament on the opening day of Formula E – Season 8.

Arnold Lewis
A hardcore Chelsea fan, who is often found playing football on the weekends. He has an exceptional voice and his rendition of old Hindi classic songs will make your heart melt. He is the man with the funky hair.

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