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Player Profile: Who is Benoit Badiashile and what can he bring to Chelsea?



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(Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images)

Chelsea have finally confirmed the signing of Benoit Badiashile from AS Monaco on a seven-and-a-half-year contract.

With Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen departing on free transfers last summer, veteran Thiago Silva 39 in September, and summer arrival Wesley Fofana particularly prone to injuries, Chelsea were in the market for a new centre-half to bolster the defensive line – having been linked to RB Leipzig’s Joško Gvardiol in recent months.

What kind of player is Badiashile, and what attributes could he bring to a potential Chelsea XI in the future?

Career to Date

Born in Western France in 2001, Badiashile spent one year at local side Limoges FC, before joining the academy of SC Malesherbes, who currently compete in the eighth tier of French football. In 2016, aged 15, he made the move to AS Monaco; a club highly renowned for the nurturing and development of elite talents, including Kylian Mbappe and Thierry Henry, as well as acting as a ‘stepping stone’ for Anthony Martial and Aurélien Tchouameni, amongst others.

Badiashile impressed in the UEFA Youth League during the 2017/18 campaign, missing just one group stage game – also appearing regularly for France’s U17 and U18 sides, starring alongside the likes of Premier League talents Michael Olise, Rayan Aït-Nouri and William Saliba.

The defender was awarded with his senior debut in November 2018, starting in a 4-0 loss to Paris Saint-Germain, before picking up a further 20 Ligue 1 appearances, scoring against OGC Nice, as Monaco survived relegation by two points in a disappointing season for the club. Badiashile, aged just 17, also picked up minutes in the Champions League, playing the full 90 in defeats to Borussia Dortmund and Atlético Madrid.

Badiashile started a further 16 league games in the 2019/20 campaign before the Ligue 1 season was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Monaco finishing 9th on 40 points, forging a centre-back partnership with Kamil Glik in defence.

The 2020/21 season was a huge step-up for Badiashile; the centre-back missed just three of 38 available league games, starting 32, and scoring in the opening two games against Stade Reims and FC Metz, as Monaco finished 3rd in Ligue 1, five points behind champions Lille, their highest finish since the 2017/18 season.

Badashile ranked highest in the Monaco squad for accurate passes per 90 (60.5), accurate long balls per 90 (5.1) and clearances per 90 (2.8), and joint-highest for interceptions per 90 (1.7), proving his quality as an assured and composed centre-back on and off the ball aged just 19. The defender also featured in four of six available games as Monaco reached the Coupe de France final, eventually losing 2-0 to PSG.

Last season, Badiashile missed 10 league games with a hamstring injury, although continued to play an important role as Monaco recorded a second consecutive 3rd place finish, losing just four games the defender featured in. Badiashile also played a central role in Monaco’s European campaign; playing every minute in their Champions League qualifiers, eventually losing to Shakhtar Donetsk, before playing in 473 of 630 available minutes in the Europa League, as Monaco lost to SC Braga in the last 16 3-1 on aggregate.

After featuring in 11 of Monaco’s opening 16 league games this season, as well as missing just one game in the Europa League group stage as the club progressed to the round of 32, Badiashile’s fine form was rewarded with his first call-up to the France senior side in September, making his debut in a 2-0 win over Austria alongside Raphael Varane and Jules Kounde in defence. Despite not turning 22 until March, the defender’s stock has risen rapidly across Europe, with links to both Manchester United and Barcelona in recent weeks.

Style of Play

Standing at 6’4, Badiashile possesses the characteristics and talents of the ‘modern’ centre-half, powerful and rugged in aerial encounters, interceptions and tackles with opponents, whilst also demonstrating quality on the ball in playing long-range passes to attacking teammates in offensive areas.

Last season, Monaco primarily set-up with a 4-2-3-1 or 4-4-2 formation, but also deployed a back three on occasion; Badiashile slotting in at left-centre-back, a role Antonio Rudiger made his own at Stamford Bridge.

As a left-footed defender, Badiashile spends the majority of his time on the left-hand side of defence, evidenced by his heatmap for last season in Ligue 1.

Badiashile’s passing capabilities is a key quality that the defender could bring to a Chelsea XI – when compared other centre-backs in Europe’s ‘top five’ leagues, Badiashile ranks in the top 20 percent for both passes into the final third and progressive passing distance per 90, as well as in the top eight percent for both overall progressive passes and expected assists per 90.

Within the Monaco squad this season, Badiashile also ranks 2nd for both accurate passes per 90 (36.6) and accurate long balls per 90 (3.9), as well as 5th for accurate pass completion rate with 86.1 percent. With Chelsea often looking to build up their attacks from the back, Badiashile certainly aligns with this vision of play.

In addition to his superb passing stats, Badiashile isn’t afraid to get involved in the “nitty gritty” of defensive work and stamp out opposition attacks – his percentage of aerial duels won per 90 of 77.1 places him in the top three percent of European defenders, with his 7.2 ball recoveries won per 90 placing him in the top 12 percent. Badiashile also ranks first in the Monaco squad for clearances per 90 with 3.5, and third for interceptions per 90 (1.5) and blocks per 90 (0.5).

Badiashile’s quality was on show in his France debut against Austria earlier this year – in 90 minutes, the centre-back won 100 percent of his ground duels, played three accurate long balls with an overall pass completion rate of 91 percent, and made four clearances and interceptions whilst keeping a clean sheet.

Badiashile has cost around £33 million this month, and his prime years ahead of him and superb overall statistics as well as European and international experience at a young age, his move to Stamford Bridge could be ideal for Graham Potter as he looks to build out his Chelsea side with elite, young talents.