There’s no point dressing it up, Chelsea have made a number of mistakes in the transfer market over recent seasons.
They prematurely sold Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne and Mohamed Salah. The Blues also rushed into parting with a world-record fee to sign Kepa Arrizabalaga after losing Thibaut Courtois to Real Madrid.
And, now, the sale of Jérémie Boga looks to yet another oversight on the club’s behalf.
The 23-year-old moved to Stamford Bridge in 2008 and worked his way through their academy. He spent the 2015/16 campaign on loan with Ligue 1 Rennes, the following year in LaLiga at Granada and then for the 2017/18 season he was a Birmingham City player.
It’s taken a little longer than I expected, bit things are starting to fall into place for Jérémie Boga ⭐️ pic.twitter.com/GKZJUve2Mp
— Sam Tighe – Ranks FC Podcast (@stighefootball) December 1, 2019
He eventually moved away from Chelsea on a permanent basis, joining Serie A's Sassuolo in the summer of 2018 for a rumoured £3million. At the time, it was viewed as a good piece of business, with the Blues banking a decent amount of a player who’d made just one appearance for the club.
The French-born Ivory Coast international didn’t pull up trees during his maiden season in Italy but the 2019/20 campaign has been a different story entirely. Boga has been a revelation for the Neroverdi and his performances have forced clubs to take note. According to reports, Chelsea are looking to lure him back but they aren’t the only team with a serious interest in the explosive winger.
Barcelona are believed to be interested in the Sassuolo No.7 and Tottenham Hotspur are keeping tabs on his situation, too. Reports in Italy suggest Chelsea have a buyback clause which would allow them to sign Boga for £13million. But there’s no guarantee a return to Stamford Bridge would appeal to him. He hasn't closed the door on that possibility, however.
While discussing his departure, the Ivorian told Foot Mercato a return to west London could be on the cards: “It is true that it is a shame. Aside from that, I have no regrets. Each thing comes in its own time. It was certainly not the time for me to play for Chelsea. I always keep that in the corner of my head. If I continue to do what I am doing, work hard, maybe I will be back one day.”
But why is there so much interest in the fleet-footed Sassuolo winger? And should Spurs and Chelsea really go out of their way to sign him?
In the modern game, a growing number of coaches want their players to be risk-averse. Wide forwards are there to score goals. Traoré and Saint-Maximin are there to create chaos and entertain fans with their supreme close control and dribbling ability. Boga falls into that category, too.
This season, he's attempting eight dribbles (per 90) – the most in the league – and he has a completion rate of 66 per cent – a total no other player in Serie A can match. The 23-year-old is completing more than five dribbles per 90. Boga is the perfect out ball for a team.
His output has increased as well. His return of eight goals is just one shy of his total for the last four seasons combined. Boga is averaging 0.38 goals per 90 and 0.10 assists. He's outperforming his underlying numbers, with his expected goal contribution registering at 0.31. However, even if the Sassuolo man reverted to the mean it would still be an impressive enough average to intrigue a number of clubs.
Boga isn't a player you'd spend £50million on. The output isn't there for him to warrant such a fee. But for around £15million, the price being mooted in the press, he's an interesting player and a cheap option for a host of sides across Europe.