Mercato Mercato – Premier League – The most expensive defender in the world: How did Fofana get there?

This is the story of a young man with an extraordinary rise. Going from the reserve of Saint-Etienne to the status of the most expensive defender in history in three years, Wesley Fofana has had a unique trajectory. He who has never known the slightest selection in the France team nor played a single minute in the Champions League, he who has only 37 Premier League matches in his legs (and 20 in Ligue 1), left for Chelsea for 82.5 million euros plus six bonuses.

This is a record for a central defender and for a player without any international cap. How is it possible ? Have the Blues lost their minds? If it is very difficult to find a rational explanation, several elements allow if not to explain at least to try to understand how Fofana could, at this point, break the counters.

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Wesley Fofana, new Chelsea defender

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A defender who reconciles eras

At 21, Fofana is a hybrid player, somewhere between old school and modern current. First of all, he has a physique that reassures all English scouts. His meter 90 and his exceptional game in the air are today his main arguments in the Premier League. He has all the attributes of a successful defender across the Channel. But he adds a real game intelligence and above all an ability to defend while advancing. In the 2021/2022 season, his statistics (clearances, successful tackles and interceptions per game) are better than those of the three Chelsea defenders (Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen and Thiago Silva) or Kalidou Koulibaly in Naples. In short, in very few matches, he has established himself as a reference.

Enchanted England

To Chelsea fans, you have the most prodigiously talented young centre-back in the world“Gary Lineker, arguably Leicester’s best-known supporter, fell in love with the former Stéphanois. As soon as he arrived, he put the whole Kingdom in agreement.”How can this guy be 19?wondered Gerry Taggart, former defender of Leicester on the club’s website three months after the arrival of the former Stéphanois. His confidence is quite amazing.“Even his serious injury (fibula fracture of his left leg) in the summer of 2021 did not lower his rating.

Last April, even though the craziest rumors were circulating about his central defender, Brendan Rodgers, his coach, did not go around the bush: “He is an absolutely phenomenal talent, this young man. Raw talent, anticipation for a defender… He’s going to be an absolute elite player. He would be missed by any team.“In less than 80 professional matches, he has put the world at his feet.

Wesley Fofana

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Leicester expertise

How is the price of a player determined? Ultimately, a player is worth what the selling club thinks he is worth. You will have understood, Leicester cherished Fofana and as the Foxes, like most English clubs, do not need money, the price of the defender very quickly flew away. Few clubs know how to value their player better than Leicester. Ben Chilwell, Harry Maguire and Riyad Mahrez have left for the past three seasons for 205 million euros. And finally, if Chelsea absolutely wanted Fofana, the Blues knew what to expect. The pressure was on their shoulders, not the Foxes.

Van Dijk, the ultimate example

Virgil van Dijk has completely transformed Liverpool, which has become a machine in England and Europe thanks to him. From then on, all the Premier League clubs began to look for their talisman, even if it meant spending lavishly: Manchester United with Maguire (80 million euros), City with Ruben Dias (65 million), Arsenal with Ben White (50 million ), Tottenham with Romero (55 million). Chelsea follows the same logic with Fofana. The aim is to build his future around the most promising centre-back in the Premier League.

Virgil van Dijk

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Fofana, strong head

And if it was necessary to force the decision, Wesley Fofana knows how to go about it. As in Saint-Etienne where he had engaged in a showdown with his leaders and Claude Puel until they gave in, the central defender handed it over to Leicester. He first deleted all mentions of Leicester on his social media and then refused to play for the Foxes. At 21, the young man, sure of his talent, knows what he wants: in this case to join a club competing in the Champions League to convince Didier Deschamps to take him to Qatar. And as often in this case, Fofana won.

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