Pitchside Europe

Why Chelsea might just miss Oriol Romeu…

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Oriol Romeu joined Chelsea at the start of the 2011/12 season as a great young prospect at a time when Andre Villas-Boas was hoping to re-invigorate an ageing Blues side.

Romeu enjoyed some good spells in the Chelsea team but a serious lay-off ruled him out for the second half of his first season and he only managed six appearances in the 2012/13 campaign.

At just 21 years of age Romeu desperately needs playing time and as a result he has been loaned to Valencia, where it is believed he will play more of a key role than he would have at Stamford Bridge.

What role does Romeu play?

In the 2011/12 season he enjoyed a good run of games under Villas-Boas as a defensive midfielder in a 4-3-3. His ability to sweep up and play the ball out from the back is a key asset as he protects the back four and starts attacks. If we observe his action areas below from Chelsea's 1-1 draw away at Swansea from last season we can see this role:

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Swansea City v Chelsea Stats, 2012/13 Premier League Season

He spent a large amount of the game in the middle of the pitch, as well as sitting in front of the back four. This is something that Frank Lampard for instance does not do when he plays deep, as he is often more inclined to push forward and attack rather than hold his position. By maintaining a position at the base of the midfield Romeu was able to pass the ball around efficiently in the 45 minutes he played:

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Romeu's passing ability is a key facet of his play - he completed 94 per cent of his attempted passes in this tie. Romeu averaged 89 per cent pass accuracy over the six games he appeared in during the 2012/13 and notably from this graphic we can see that he plays a lot of longer passes, rather than the sideways, simple passes we associate with John Obi Mikel. Romeu's average pass length was 20 metres, longer than his fellow midfielders, which demonstrates his range of passing.

Not only is he a good passer but he is also a good combative midfielder in terms of winning the ball and fulfilling his defensive duties. Romeu did only make six appearances (just playing one full game) last season but if we look at his duel success he was very effective in this regard:

The 63 per cent average duel success enjoyed by Romeu was actually superior to any other Chelsea midfielder (Lampard 62 per cent, Ramires 59 per cent, Mikel 53 per cent). Particularly impressive is his aerial and tackle success. Romeu also managed to make eight interceptions in the limited playing time he enjoyed last season. Of course he only made six appearances but if he could maintain this for a long period it would be very impressive indeed.

Conclusion

With his strong blend of passing and duel success it is clear that Romeu is a very good prospect. In the long term, if he stays injury free and enjoys a good spell at Valencia, he could become a distinguished part of the Chelsea midfield for years to come. But for now it is most important that he gains regular playing time in the aftermath of such a long lay-off.

From Squawka.com

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