Chelsea’s title charge stuttered in a 3-2 defeat away at Stoke City on Saturday after an Oussama Assaidi strike condemned Jose Mourinho’s team to their third league defeat of the season. However, things could not have been more different for their feeder club across the North Sea in Holland. Vitesse Arnham travelled to PSV Eindhoven and destroyed them on their own patch to move back to the top of the Eredivisie.
The friendship between the Blues’ owner Roman Abramovich and the Dutch club’s equivalent Merab Jordania has seen six of Chelsea’s players move to Vitesse on loan this season.
The agreement has been in place since 2010 but it is only this season that the Dutch club are reaping the rewards. It could even see them win the Dutch title for the first time in 99 years after they sealed their fifth league win in six games in Eindhoven. Without a doubt, the stand-out loanee at Vitesse has to be Brazilian Lucas Piazon, who has tormented Eredivisie defences and mesmerised the viewing public all season long.
Of course, Piazon was a promising player when he made the move to England from Sao Paulo in 2011 but it was definitely far too early because he was never going to break into such a strong Chelsea first-team at the tender age of 17. Sending him out on loan to Malaga in January gave him the chance to show glimpses of his talent but it is his early season form at Vitesse that has really captured everyone’s imagination.
He has racked up an astonishing Performance Score of 597 in his 14 appearances so far this season. Piazon is deployed on the left-wing but is given licence to cut inside whenever he wants to probe centrally and use his stronger right foot. He has created 43 chances already this season, only Dusan Tadic of FC Twente has created more in Holland.
As you can see (below), over half of those chances have come from cutting inside, showing that he can play as a winger or as a central attacking midfielder. This versatility is crucial in the modern game, especially when you want to make a breakthrough at a club like Chelsea who possess a wealth of attacking options.
Piazon’s exemplary shooting ability has been particularly unbelievable to watch this season; he has amazing reliability when it comes to shooting on target. His accuracy of 74% reflects this and he has got his reward with his eight league goals.
As you would expect from a tricky young winger, he loves a dribble too. Although he is highly skilled, his success rate of 47% does need to be improved upon if he is to make it at Stamford Bridge. Compare it to Eden Hazard’s 63% take-on success rate and you can see straight away that he needs to improve his consistency.
In Vitesse’s 6-2 win, his season was summed up as he produced a stunning attacking display at the expense of the desolate PSV. He managed to score and make five key passes as he ran riot in PSV’s final third.
Despite playing predominantly from the left, he sensed weakness in the heart of PSV’s team and drifted inside to gain possession in dangerous areas regularly as shown by his Action Areas.
However, this flaw in his game was exposed once again as he completed just two of his nine attempted take-ons.
Remember, Piazon is still just 19-years-old and he has arguably been the stand-out player in the Eredivisie this season which is no mean feat. Being at the heart of winning the league would be absolutely vital in his development.
Piazon’s killer instinct in the final third could be needed at Chelsea in years to come. His exposure to first-team football at Vitesse has seen him develop greater positional awareness and become much more clinical when attacking. There is no doubt that he is beginning to fulfil his potential after a difficult start to life in Europe and owning him can only be a positive for Chelsea fans. When he returns and breaks into the first-team, it is time to get excited.Published 09 Dec 2013, 17:26 IST