Alex Telles is making his most serious foray into Chelsea’s transfer rumour mill. The Porto left-back would have a greater role under Antonio Conte than he would have under previous managers, who courted him as early as 2013.
Alex Telles may finally attract the attention he deserves as a potential left wing-back and a Chelsea transfer target. Telles is resurfacing in the transfer rumours, this time as an alternative to Juventus’ Alex Sandro.
In response to the rumours, Telles’ agent confirmed Chelsea made an offer for Telles in 2013, but the Brazilian had already signed a pre-contract with Galatasaray. Two years later, Chelsea again showed interest.
If Chelsea had acquired Alex Telles in 2013, he would have challenged Ashley Cole and Cesar Azpilicueta for the left-back spot. The entire course of Chelsea history could be different if Telles had in some way impacted Azpilicueta’s rise.
Four years later, Telles could complement Azpilicueta rather than compete with him, while challenging another Spaniard for a role on Chelsea’s left.
The Blues have not yet reached out to Telles’ agent, but the agent told Sport Witness:
I believe that maybe one day he will play for Chelsea. I don’t know if it’s going to be this season or the next. But I feel like one day he can play for Chelsea.
Perhaps even more so than Alex Sandro, Telles would push Marcos Alonso for the starting left wing-back spot. Telles is a naturally left-footed player, with quicker feet on the dribble and a stronger pass than Alonso.
Telles led Porto with eight assists last season, and has four in the current campaign. He is averaging three key passes and 3.7 crosses per game, a significant improvement over last season’s average of 1.9 and 2.3, respectively.
Alonso averaged only .5 crosses per game last season, when his service from the left flank was a key part of his game. Chelsea’s purchase of Davide Zappacosta was supposed to balance Chelsea’s crossing game, with both wing-backs serving the ball into Alvaro Morata.
Instead, a full-back-turned-centre-back has taken over that role, with Cesar Azpilicueta being Chelsea’s leading assist man.
Alex Telles could balance Azpilicueta’s crosses to Morata in the way Zappacosta was supposed to balance Alonso’s. Telles also plays a much more physical defensive game than Marcos Alonso. Telles is a stand-out slide tackler, averaging about two tackles and one foul per game for Porto.
He has the timing and quickness to make clean tackles, but he would likely attract dives and easy whistles in the Premier League (despite all the talk of physicality).
Alonso’s greatest advantage over Telles is his goal-scoring, particularly on free-kicks. Telles has only three goals in all competitions since arriving in Europe for the 2013/14 season. The two are evenly matched in the air, but Telles’ aerial wins are almost entirely defensive while Alonso puts his head (and hair) to good use in front of the opponent’s net as well.
Alex Telles may be better matched with Cesar Azpilicueta than Marcos Alonso, especially given how Azpilicueta is playing this season.
However, Chelsea would buy Telles only for competition and depth at wing-back, not centre-back. Being a left wing-back under Antonio Conte would suit Telles’ skills better than being a left-back under Chelsea’s previous coaches.
Telles has the combination of athleticism, play-making and defence to be a wing-back. That he can do it naturally on the left is simply a bonus.
Neither Cesar Azpilicueta nor Marcos Alonso shy away from competing for and earning their place in the starting XI. Alex Telles would have a significant battle against either, whether in 2013 or the present.