Chelsea have been woeful this season, with seven defeats and just three victories from their past 12 matches across all competitions, and have consequently been throwing the kitchen sink at the January transfer market.
Having fortified the offensive ranks with the £9.7m loan signing of Joao Felix and sealing a monumental permanent deal for Mykhaylo Mudryk for £88.5m – also agreeing a £30m fee for Noni Madueke – the west London outfit have more recently seen a £55m opening offer for Brighton & Hove Albion’s Moises Caicedo rebuffed by the South Coast club, there appears to be an onus on bolstering further departments of the field.
The right-back position is an area illuminated for swift investment, with established phenom Reece James missing 16 games due to injury this season and the 33-year-old stalwart and captain Cesar Azpilicueta approaching the twilight stage of his career at Stamford Bridge.
According to L’Equipe, Olympique Lyonnais’ 19-year-old right-back Malo Gusto is being closely monitored by Chelsea technical director Christopher Vivell, with a potential £35m move indeed considered to provide competition for James.
While James’ position down the right flank provides Chelsea boss Graham Potter with one of the most exciting and eminent in the position in the Premier League, if not the globe, the addition of a talented starlet to push for a starting berth and step in when required could prove the difference in the pursuit of silverware, with marathon seasons indeed calling for healthy rotation.
And Gusto is indeed displaying his worth as one of the most exciting young full-back talents on offer, having made 15 appearances in Ligue 1 this season, his performances and consistency on the pitch belie his youth and inexperience.
As per Sofascore, his impressive league rating this term of 7.10 is an indication of the expanding pool of ability that stems from his core, with his 1.4 key passes and 85% passing accuracy an illustration of his offensive pedigree and the 1.5 interceptions and 2.1 tackles further proof of his dynamic arsenal.
And as per FBref, the Frenchman ranks among the top 15% of full-backs for assists, the top 5% for attempted passes and the top 19% for dribbles completed in Europe’s big five leagues, proving to be an effective offensive outlet from the right flank.
With blistering pace and innate ball-playing ability, the “special” talent – as hailed by Goal – could follow the blueprint of Bayern Munich sensation Alphonso Davies, who is listed as a comparable player to Gusto by FBref.
The 22-year-old Davies has made 135 appearances for the Bavarian outfit since his arrival, scoring six goals and providing 21 assists, and ranks among the top 7% of positional peers for shot-creating actions, the top 1% for dribbles completed and the top 12% for attempted passes in Europe, showcasing direct similarities to that of Gusto.
£35m might appear somewhat steep for a relatively raw and unknown commodity, but given a platform to nurture his skills and earn his way into a role of greater magnitude with one of the most prominent side’s in world football, Gusto could indeed live up to each and every penny, growing into a lightning-hot force to cement the right-back position at Stamford Bridge as one of the very best any team has to offer.