With the way football has evolved over the last decade, the traditional ‘No.9’ has become less and less common.
Today, clubs across Europe get many of their goals from wingers – many of which are primarily used as inside forwards. Modern football is dominated by inverted wingers. Gone are the old days of an orthodox winger running down the touchline and crossing a ball into the penalty area.
You don’t have to look far back – the mid-2000s to be exact – to see where the rise of the inverted winger came from. Look at the likes of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Ronaldinho, for example, who essentially redefined the position and made it their own. Now we see people like Mohamed Salah, Riyad Mahrez, Sadio Mane and Neymar – to name a few – who have kept the evolution going.
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Chelsea have recently completed the signing of two wingers in Mykhailo Mudryk and Noni Madueke. The two deals were confirmed just days apart as Graham Potter looks to bolster his offensive options for the rest of the seasons, and judging by the long-term deals they’ve both struck, for years to come.
Mudryk, who is right-footed but normally plays on the left, is strong on both feet but will always try to move to the right when the opportunity arises. We’ve only seen 35 minutes of the Ukraine international on his debut against Liverpool, but we’ve already glimpsed the fact that he loves to cut in, run diagonally and exploit his blistering pace to terrorize defenders .
We haven’t had the pleasure of seeing Madueke play for the Blues yet, but the Englishman will make his debut for his new club next week against Fulham. However, during his time with PSV Eindhoven and the English youth teams, he showed that he is a direct, fast winger, who is – again – inverted and likes to hack in from the right with his left foot.
Chelsea now have two really fast wingers cutting in on their favored feet, giving Potter a new dimension in attack. Liverpool had the aforementioned Mane and Salah in their attack for so many years and Jurgen Klopp won everything there was to win at club level with the two spearheading the striker.
Admittedly, those two were nature freaks and their target return was simply mesmerizing. We saw the same season after season at Bayern Munich with Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery. Their nickname was ‘Robbery’ for a reason.
These wingers were all so dynamic, direct and fluid in attack. It makes them so hard to defend against – not to mention their speed off the ball. The runs behind players like Salah and Mane made for Liverpool over the years have been sensational and at times seemed almost impossible to compete with.
Robben and Ribery were different, but the vision was still the same: cut their favorite feet, record players and shoot on sight. It made them one of the most successful wingers of all time.
Now Mudryk and Madueke are by no means the same profiles for these players. On the contrary. But it looks like Chelsea are trying to emulate an approach that has proven very successful and fun to watch in recent times. It’s a blueprint that has been used across Europe for years at some of the continent’s biggest and most successful clubs. It’s one Chelsea have tried in the past, but they hope it works this time.
They – Mudryk and Madueke – are both so young, they are both so raw and fearless. They both have an eye for goal and enjoy putting on a show. These are really exciting times for Chelsea going forward. The double signing of Mudryk and Madueke is the clearest sign yet from Todd Boehly that he is here to have a great time but is also serious about success with this football club.
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