With the 2020/21 Indian Super League (ISL) season having come to an end, almost every single team has already started to look for new players to strengthen themselves and improve the squad over the previous season. Fans of Chennaiyin FC, in particular, will be waiting for news on who the club is signing to play upfront, and in this analysis piece, we will try and shortlist a few potential options that they could consider.
In this recruitment analysis piece, we will be looking for players who are similar to both Roy Krishna at ATK Mohun Bagan and Chennaiyin’s very own Jakub Sylvestr. A player having traits of both these players would be the ideal signing for Chennaiyin. Sylvestr performed well and created the most number of chances for the team in the season just ended, but he was unable to score himself too frequently, which was a worrying sign. On the other hand, Krishna was phenomenal and was the second-highest goalscorer in the ISL last season – therefore, a player who can both score and create would be the best option for Chennaiyin, accounting for the fact that such players are rare and could be difficult to bring to India.
Based on Chennaiyin’s previous transfer history, we have only looked at free agents and players with expiring contracts. We also have scouted only from those leagues where Chennaiyin FC have previously scouted and signed players. A shortlist was drawn up through data and statistics, and in-game examples were then looked at to try and arrive at the final list of potential options, with three players being put forward.
Maicon Marques, the Brazillian forward currently playing in the Thai League, is out of contract in May, which would make him an ideal signing if Chennaiyin can convince him since he is both a finisher and a creator. The 31-year-old is not a regular for his club side at the moment, and so would probably favour a move where he could play the majority of minutes, and this will be the case at Chennaiyin. On comparing his attacking and shooting ability with our target players, Maicon is a standout player across all metrics.
Looking at Maicon’s radar in comparison with Sylvestr and Krishna, we can see how he has facets of both players to his game, and in fact is outperforming them across all metrics, albeit in a different league.
The Brazilian is very confident when on the ball and loves to dribble past opponents which sees him attempt a lot of dribbles in a game. This would be a useful trait for Chennaiyin when they face teams that sit back in a deep block. He is also a very strong goalscorer, as can be seen on the radar, having notched eight goals in 16 appearances this season, to go with two assists as well. Maicon usually looks to make runs in behind the defence and thereby get on the end of passes and crosses from his teammates.
His confidence on the ball not only helps him in dribbling but also helps him to make crucial passes in the attacking third. We can see that he is very similar to our target players for passing and progression metrics as well, standing out in terms of xA and key passes per 90. One of the reasons why his pass success rate is low is because he usually attempts riskier passes.
His vision is another trait that helps him create chances for teammates, as he usually opts for the killer ball rather than a lateral pass. Maicon could be expensive in terms of his potential wages, but this would be a brilliant signing for Chennaiyin, as he would be able to take the goalscoring burden off the team.
Claudio Medina, the 27-year-old old striker who currently plays in Segunda B for Burgos is a perfect fit for Chennaiyin FC. With the Spanish player running out of contract this June, there is a high possibility that he would prefer a team with more playing time than at Burgos. He clearly is an attacking threat inside the penalty area and quite similar in terms of profile to Sylvestr.
Another huge factor here is that Medina is comfortable with both feet, which creates an additional threat as it leads to uncertainty for defenders when he has the ball.
Looking at attacking metrics in this radar, we can see that Medina is similar across a number of metrics to our template players. He takes a lot of touches in the box which also means that he is able to take most of his shots from inside the box as well, and this is one reason why his goal conversion rate is so high.
He is also an aerial threat, and this would add something that had been missing from Chennaiyin’s attacking play last season since Sylvestr was rarely a threat from crosses and headers.
When we look at passing and progression metrics, we can see how Medina can be a threat through his creativity as well. The fact that he plays shorter passes makes him similar to Sylvestr, which should make it a little easier for him to adapt to Chennaiyin’s playing style. He often looks to drop deep and combine with his teammates, which can help create space for them inside the penalty area.
Again, this is a player who is not getting a lot of playing time in Spain, and so he could be open to a move to a team where he would be the main man.
Juanma García, the 28-year-old striker who is out of contract this June also plays for Burgos in the Spanish third division. He could be the missing piece for Chennaiyin’s attacking puzzle if signed for next season, with a very strong goalscoring performance so far, averaging 0.42 non-penalty goals per 90. His heatmap also shows how he likes to get involved in the play across the width of the pitch, and this is something that Chennaiyin encourage from their strikers, which should make him a good fit for the ISL side.
This radar shows how he is truly a hybrid of our target players. Garcia is only 167 cm tall but he is quite physical, and is able to hold up the ball with his back to goal. He also has quick feet which helps him reach through balls before opponents and despite his lack of height, he does not shy away from getting into aerial duels.
When looking at passing and progression metrics, he comes across as being similar to Krishna. He usually looks to spread the play wide rather than pass into the box, which is why he is below average for passes to the penalty area, but he does get involved in play quite a lot, being able to circulate possession well in dangerous areas of the pitch.
Garcia is a regular starter for Burgos, and so it could be difficult to convince him for a move. However, Burgos are likely to be promoted this season, and so could be looking for an upgrade on the 28-year-old, which would mean that a project like Chennaiyin’s could be quite attractive.
Chennaiyin’s attacking problems are their biggest concern ahead of next season. The two-time champions suffered since they did not take their chances, and this is arguably what cost them a spot in the playoffs last season. Chennaiyin therefore need to use this transfer window intelligently in order to improve this side of their play next season.
The three players we have mentioned here could all fit well into the Chennaiyin style of play, notwithstanding the fact that they are yet to announce a new head coach after parting ways with Csaba László. This transfer window will be crucial for the south Indian side to make an impact in the upcoming ISL season, and they must solve their attacking woes by finding appropriate players in the transfer market.