This article is part of Football FanCast’s In Numbers series, which takes a statistical look at performances, season-long form and reported transfer targets…
Although Chelsea are still in the midst of their two-window transfer ban, that has not stopped the rumour mill from throwing up some interesting links for when they are once again able to bring in new recruits and Calciomercato reports that they hold an interest in Nice’s Youcef Atal.
The Algeria international is a player supporters of the Stamford Bridge outfit should keep their eyes on this weekend as Les Aiglons face Montpellier in Ligue 1.
The 23-year-old is one of the most offensive, and versatile, defenders in France, if you can even call him that.
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Looking at his stats from last season, his attacking threat jumps off the page. During the 2018/19 campaign, Atal scored six goals in 25 starts.
Considering Nice only scored 30 goals in the league last term, that means Atal bagged 20% of his team’s strikes. Eleven of his appearances came at right-back, whilst 14 came further up the pitch, displaying his ability to play in several positions.
In the opposition’s half, he was an out-and-out menace. Only two players in the whole of France’s top tier completed more than the Algeria international’s 3.5 dribbles per game. Here is a player who is clearly not scared of taking his marker on, and he often comes out on top.
On many occasions, such potency in attack can lead to a deficiency in defence, but that is not exactly the case with the former KV Kortrijk man. Only Pierre Lees-Melou made more tackles per game than Atal’s 2.3 for Nice, which also put the latter in the top 40 in the whole of Ligue 1.
Of course, it is not all good news. He was dribbled past on 1.1 occasions during the past term, which was the fourth worst of any of his teammates who started a game.
Nice have started the season positively and sit third in Ligue 1. They have also been far more prolific in front of goal, already netting seven goals. Montpellier, meanwhile, sit in 14th with just one victory to their name.
In the one game he started this term, Atal was used on the right-wing, and with Nice likely to be taking the game to an opponent who have scored just three times in their first four matches, it is likely he will play in a similar position again.
His opponent on that side of the pitch should be Ambroise Oyongo, who has started three matches this campaign. His 6.42 average WhoScored rating should give Atal plenty of confidence, and with 42% of his team’s attacks coming down his flank this campaign, he could have a big influence on the final outcome.
As such, it could be the perfect match for Atal to show exactly why the Blues are interested in his services.