Chelsea fans should not get too excited as it is not Neymar, Philippe Coutinho and neither have they persuaded Willian that he would be better staying put.
Sarri is believed to be close to signing off on a move for former Shakhtar Donetsk wideman, Bernard.
We can assume that only the most clued up of European football watchers will know much about this mystery man, so let us educate ourselves with some stats and player comparisons.
As ever, we shall assume that Maurizio Sarri will look to play a 433 system this season so it would make sense to compare Bernard to Eden Hazard, a player he may well be replacing, and Napoli’s Jose Callejon who played the wide right role for Napoli under Sarri last season.
Eden Hazard is rather good, isn’t he?
What does this comparison actually tell us other than that revelation?
Over Bernard’s six Champions League matches, he created 1.46 chances per 90. Now, for content, Shakhtar are not an elite European side and they had Manchester City and Napoli in the Champions League group last season so the opposition was tough. If we compare him to Napoli’s Callejon, Bernard compares favourably as Callejon only created 1.25 chances per 90. Hazard, as you might expect, was way out on his own in this regard, creating 3.70 chances per 90.
Shot accuracy is always an interesting statistic, but I am not sure how much it tells us this time round – both Bernard and Callejon exited the Champions League with a 100% shot accuracy. Although not shown in this image, Bernard averaged 0.86 shots per 90 and Callejon 1.25 shots per 90. Hazard, as you might expect, averaged more – 3.25 shots per 90 which would explain his lower accuracy.
The attack score tells us something. Bernard outscored Callejon in this regard, Bernard getting an attack score of 20.43 and Callejon way down with an attack score of 12.72. With this score in mind, it would be worth watching Bernard back in these matches to see what he was doing that was so remarkably better than Callejon, especially when you consider the total scores.
Bernard’s total score drops to 15.72, quite a significant drop – does this tell us that he contributes little in the defensive phase? Considering Hazard’s total score also goes up, and he is not known for his defensive shift, this statistic alone might tell us a flaw in Bernard’s game that requires further scouting. Jose Callejon sees his total score increase slightly, to 15.41 albeit still less than Bernard’s.
The purpose of this piece was to explore what Chelsea might be signing if they do indeed bring in the 25-year-old on a free transfer.
It is hard to compare him like-for-like to a world start like Eden Hazard, but if and when Hazard does finally depart he is going to need to be replaced by someone – could it be Bernard? Not according to this data.
However, if we look at Bernard more from the viewpoint of ‘would he fit the Sarri system?’ then I believe we can reach a different conclusion. Callejon was believed to be a mainstay of the Napoli front three and if Sarri does indeed structure Chelsea in a similar way then Bernard, it could be argued, might be able to perform this role better than Callejon – and considering it would cost anything from £20-30m to prize a player like Callejon away from any other European side right now then picking up a Brazilian who still has a lot to prove at the top level might prove to be a very shrewd signing.