Chelsea signing Nicolas Jackson is raw but can become goalscoring GREAT

Sam McGuire
Sam McGuire
  • Updated: 29 Jun 2023 07:35 BST
  • 4 min read
Nicolas Jackson, Villarreal, 2022/23
© ProShots

Nicolas Jackson had a bizarre 2022/23 campaign. It was his first one as part of the Villarreal first-team squad, though he did make his debut during the 2021/22 season.

He scored just twice in his first 14 LaLiga appearances last term before the turn of the year - but then injury forced him to miss January and February.

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Despite this, Bournemouth looked to bring him in during the winter transfer window and had a €25 million deal in place to sign the 22-year-old before he failed a medical.

READ MORE: Chelsea beat Barcelona to €15m Brazilian wonderkid transfer

Fast forward six months and Villarreal are selling the 22-year-old to Chelsea for €37m. He’s set to sign an eight-year deal with the Blues and will become their second attacking signing of the summer after the arrival of Christopher Nkunku from RB Leipzig.

The narrative is now completely different, too. Why? Well, Jackson finished the season in ridiculous form, netting nine times in his final eight appearances for the Yellow Submarine, scoring doubles against Celta Vigo, Athletic Bilbao and Cadiz. This hot streak skewed, well, everything as he finished the campaign with 12 goals and four assists across 1,603 minutes.

Most models show he significantly overperformed his Expected Goal numbers and the small sample size in general makes it difficult to determine whether or not this sort of finishing clinic is sustainable.

It is unlikely though. After all, the 22-year-old is still young and inexperienced, he is going to be inconsistent. So why have Chelsea made the move to sign him? Every elite team needs a reliable goal threat. At times they can single-handedly keep their side in contention for European football, just ask Spurs. They’ve been one of the most inconsistent teams over recent seasons yet Harry Kane’s exploits in the final third always seem to keep them in the European conversation.

Kane has been a persistent goal-threat for Spurs
© ProShots - Kane has been a persistent goal-threat for Spurs

It was actually under new Blues boss Mauricio Pochettino that Kane scaled new heights as a player.

In Pochettino’s four full seasons with Spurs, Kane scored 105 Premier League goals, hitting 29 in 2017/18 and 30 in 2018/19. In the five full seasons since, the England captain has scored 20 or more in a single season on just two occasions.

Jackson's potential is there

The Argentine tactician can take a raw but talented centre-forward and develop them into a true goalscoring great, That might play a part in Chelsea going for Jackson this summer. Moving for him now while he’s available for a reasonable price as opposed to waiting a year or two when he might be on the market for €100m. That is the going rate for forwards right now.

Especially those of that profile.

Jackson is 6ft 1inch, is comfortable in wider areas, deceptively quick, good at holding the ball up and can finish with either foot. There aren’t many in world football who tick so many boxes at such a young age.

READ MORE: Liverpool target 'extremely difficult' transfer for €70m midfielder

Darwin Nunez went for €70m last summer and the eventual fee could rise to €100m. Victor Osminhen is believed to be on the market for €120m this summer after firing Napoli to the Serie A title. Rasmus Hojlund, after one season with Atalanta, is believed to be valued at €70m.

So there is sense to bringing in Jackson now, even though he’s far from the finished article, to develop under a manager who has a track record of developing young attackers. Just look at Dele Alli under the former PSG boss earlier on in his Spurs career - he hit 28 goals across two seasons from midfield.

Pochettino can get a tune out of the striker
© ProShots - Pochettino can get a tune out of the striker

There will, inevitably, be teething issues. He’s a little loose in possession and his touches can be a little heavy from time to time. He needs to work on his aerial ability if he’s to succeed in the more physical Premier League but there is a lot to work with.

Jackson won’t be the biggest name to arrive at Stamford Bridge this summer and he definitely won’t be the most exciting one, but he could prove himself to be one of the most important signings of the Pochettino era.

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