After a season without a recognised striker, Chelsea have signed 22-year-old Nicolas Jackson with the hope that he can bring goals to a struggling attack. The Senegalese forward scored 12 goals in 26 appearances for Villarreal last season. Whilst these numbers do not sound overly impressive, it is important to add that the forward finished the season strong with 11 goal contributions in his last 8 games, also winning the la Liga Player of the Month award in May.
Even though Jackson has been brought in primarily to score goals, he also possesses an impressive level of technical ability for a player of his stature. Despite his 6 '2 frame, Jackson is more nuanced than your typical striker. Dubbed the ‘next Neymar’ in his home country of Senegal, he is more than comfortable playing with the ball at his feet using an array of tricks and skills to get out of tight situations. Chelsea fans may even compare his style to Chelsea legend Didier Drogba because of his combination of strength and elegant footwork. Of course this does not mean that Jackson will be as successful as Drogba at Chelsea however it could be a good indication for the future.
Although, a point of concern for Jackson at Chelsea would be his previous injury problems. Earlier this season, Jackson suffered a hip injury that not only disrupted his season, but also resulted in his £20 million transfer to Bournemouth to fall through. This was not the first time that Jackson has been struck by injuries, during his time on loan at CD Mirandes, he missed eleven weeks of the season through injury. His development as a footballer has been held back because of these injuries. Especially with Chelsea’s recent injury problems, it will be important that Jackson’s fitness is carefully evaluated throughout preseason.
Pochettino will most likely use Jackson as a striker in his 4-2-3-1 system, Jackson has been used on either wing at Villarreal and Senegal however his skills will be better utilised as the spearhead of the front four. At Spurs, Pochettino had Harry Kane at his disposal who had the ability to drop deep to pick up the ball and become almost an additional play-maker. Jackson could be used in a similar role to Kane under Pochettino, being asked to drop deep to receive the ball and help create goal scoring opportunities whilst also getting in positions to score goals himself. A partnership with another new boy in Christopher Nkunku could prove to be successful as both players possess the ability to create and score chances. Jackson and Nkunku could be utilised similarly to how Dele Alli and Harry Kane played together under Pochettino, which allowed both players to rack up elite numbers for both goals and assists.
According to multiple sources, it seems that Chelsea are also looking for an “elite” forward to lead the line next season which may limit Jackson’s starting minutes. This may not necessarily be a problem for Jackson. For a player of his age with only one full season of experience of top flight football, relying on him to immediately fix our goal scoring problems could put too much pressure on the 22-year-old. His first season at Chelsea being spent as a rotation player, gaining substantial minutes from cameos off the bench and occasional starting appearances could allow the player to get a grasp of English football as well as keeping an eye on his previous injury problems.
Overall, Chelsea fans should be excited by this transfer as the club have brought in an extremely talented player that could be the exact profile of player that Chelsea have missed since the departure of Diego Costa six years ago. The signing of Nicolas Jackson for £31.8 million is a risk due to his lack of experience and injury problems, however a risk that could fix Chelsea’s striker problem for the next decade.