News from London: Chelsea should target this Girona midfielder

Chelsea must sign Aleix Garcia (Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images)

Chelsea is linked with Brighton & Hove Albion central midfielder Moises Caicedo, but it seems a deal would prove difficult to agree on. Brighton has already sold a highly-valued asset in Marc Cucurella to Chelsea, so they would not be in a hurry to sell another one to the same club, except Chelsea offers relatively ridiculous money.

Chelsea has a number of central midfielders that have been on their roster for a while. However, several of these players have become unreliable in recent times, either due to injury or underperformance.

N’Golo Kante is one of the best midfielders in the world, but he hasn’t been fully fit for the better part of the last nine months. Ruben Loftus-Cheek is and has always been injury prone. Mateo Kovacic has a specific skill set that helps in midfield, but he doesn’t really affect play in the final third.

Jorginho is generally consistent, but is 32 years-old now and the club seems to be preparing to let him go. Conor Gallagher is an attacking midfielder that has been forced to play as a central midfielder often.

Chelsea needs someone in the Kevin De Bruyne mould; a central midfielder who can do a bit of everything, but would be predominantly tasked with making things happen in the final third. This midfielder would not necessarily be similar in skill level to de Bruyne, but he would have the same profile as him in terms of player attributes. That player is Girona’s Aleix Garcia.

Garcia is comfortable as the more roaming midfielder in a double pivot, but he has been deployed mainly as one of the wide central midfielders in a midfield three. Chelsea is in need of someone like Garcia. Garcia is not a defensive midfielder and has only played as one twice in the league this season. He has been a constant source of providing goals for Girona this season, having been promoted from the second division this season.

Garcia’s role is clear when he’s watched and from his numbers. He is a good tackler, tackling 57% of dribblers faced, but he doesn’t tackle a lot, as he focuses on progressing play and creating chances.

He was won 80% of his tackles this season, and he ranks in the 98th percentile for number of times dribbled past per 90. Garcia also ranks in the 96th percentile for total interceptions won per game of all players in LaLiga Santander.

His pressing is also very good, especially in the final third. He ranks in the 77th percentile for tackles attempted in the final third per 90, amongst midfielders in Europe’s top five leagues, the UEFA Champions league and the UEFA Europa League.

His passing numbers are impressive and his direct and indirect chance creation numbers are equally as impressive. He ranks in the 93rd percentile for assists per 90, of all midfielders in Europe’s top leagues, the UCL and the UEL.

This impressive in and of itself. He also ranks in the 96th percentile for expected assisted goals per 90 (xAG). In fact, Garcia has gathered the second highest xAG in LaLiga this season (4.4), and has also gathered the highest expected assists this season (also 4.4).

His chance creation numbers aren’t a fluke either, creating the second most chances in LaLiga this season, as well as ranking in the 98th percentile for chances created per 90 (2.72) amongst midfielders in Europe.

In addition to those, he ranks in the 81st percentile for passes into the final third per 90 (5.39) and in the 90th percentile for completed crosses into the penalty area per 90, not including set pieces (0.34).

When you account for set-pieces, Garcia completes 2.7 crosses into the penalty area per game, at a ridiculous 42% completion rate. It cannot be overemphasized how good that cross completion rate is, compared to the volume.

As mentioned earlier, Garcia’s goal and shot creation are impressive, and not just for a Girona player. He ranks in the 98th percentile for total Shot-Creating Actions per 90 (SCA90) with 5.1. He also ranks in the 87th percentile for SCAs from live-passes (2.72).

Garcia ranks in the 96th percentile for Goal-Creating Actions per 90 (GCA90) at 0.62 and in the 89th percentile for GCAs from live passes. These are outrageously good numbers, especially when compared to other central midfielders in Europe’s top five leagues. Only Antoine Griezmann (11) and Mikel Merino (9), have created more big chances than Garcia so far in the league this season.

Garcia has not only been Girona’s best player this season, but he has also been La Liga’s best performing player so far. He’s extremely valuable to Girona, and CFC should not expect him to be easy to get. At 25 years-old he’s in his prime, and the position he plays requires some experience, so he’d be the perfect buy for Chelsea.

Statistics are from sofascore.com and FBref.com.