Moises Caicedo: What does this Ecuadorian prodigy brings to Stamford Bridge for Chelsea?

Just 45 EPL appearances on from Moises Caicedo arrival in England, the 21-year-old is set to become the most expensive footballer in England

Avignyan Mukhopadhyay
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West Ham vs Chelsea | Sportz Point

Two and a half years and just 45 Premier League appearances on from Moises Caicedo arrival in England, the 21-year-old is set to become the most expensive footballer signed by a British club.

Amid fierce competition, Chelsea have signed him for an initial £100m fee from the Seagulls, likely rising to a British record of £115m for the player to join a midfield they have lavishly remodelled this summer.

BBC Sport looks at what has prompted the Blues to part with such a vast fee for a young player and where he will fit in to Mauricio Pochettino's side this season.

Eased in before becoming elite

Moises Caicedo touches | Sportz Point

The majority of Moises Caicedo's touches last season were in the heart of midfield (Image- Opta)

Caicedo didn't actually play at all in the English top flight in his first campaign and then spent the first half of the 2021-22 season on loan with Beerschot in Belgium before being recalled in January because of injuries to other Albion midfielders.

He made his Premier League debut in April 2022, in a 2-1 win at Arsenal. Operating in a midfield trio with Yves Bissouma and Enock Mwepu - whom he assisted to score their crucial second goal - Caicedo hit the ground running.

It must have made a lasting impression because nine months later the Gunners made two bids for the player, the first reported to be £60m, the second £10m higher. Both were rejected, the second prompting the player to inform Brighton in an open letter he wanted to leave before signing a new deal.

Now, a few months on, with him having played 53 times for Brighton, he is valued at £45m more. But why?

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Moises Caicedo is a central midfielder by trade, and played further back in a holding midfielder role when Roberto de Zerbi replaced Graham Potter as manager last September. He also featured at right-back on a handful of occasions, most notably in the 1-0 home win over Manchester United in May.

He ranked highly among Premier League players in several metrics last season.

His 100 tackles was below only Fulham midfielder Joao Palhinha, while only Declan Rice - then of West Ham and now Arsenal - made more interceptions than Caicedo's 56.

He is not just a destructive force either. He ranked seventh for passes (2,209), sixth for successful passes (1,961) and eighth for touches (2,735) last season.

And he knows how to channel that possession effectively.

Possession won leading to team shot in PL 2022-23 (via Opta)
Player Possession won
Rodri (Man City) 19
Moises Caicedo (Brighton) 18
Joao Palhinha (Fulham) 17
Casemiro (Man Utd) 15
Victor Lindelof (Man Utd) 15

According to Opta, Moises Caicedo broke up play and launched attacks that were worth 5.10 expected goals. Only Rodri (with 5.89) bettered this.

His robustness is also a plus. Only two players - Pascal Gross and Lewis Dunk - played more minutes than his 3,140 for Brighton last season, with the Ecuadorian featuring in all but one Premier League match as the Seagulls recorded their highest top-flight finish.

"I think that can be the last game of Alexis and Moises, I'm really sorry," said De Zerbi after Brighton's final game of the season.

"They can play in every competition and are ready to compete for a big team and I hope for them they can play in the best team in the world."

 Caicedo defensive actions 2022-23 | Sportz Point

Caicedo was most active in the space in front of his own penalty area (Image- Opta)

Where does Caicedo fit in new-look Chelsea midfield?

Moises Caicedo in a Chelsea shirt | Sportz Point

Caicedo has 32 caps for Ecuador, scoring three goals since his international debut in 2020 (Image- Chelsea)

Chelsea also tried to sign Moises Caicedo in January, reportedly having a £55m bid rejected, when Potter - the manager who brought him to England - was in charge.

There has been a lot of midfield changes at Stamford Bridge this summer under new boss Pochettino.

They have sold Mateo Kovacic to Manchester City for £30m, Mason Mount has joined Manchester United and attacking midfielder Kai Havertz has moved to Arsenal.

Meanwhile, N'Golo Kante left to join Al-Ittihad as a free agent, Denis Zakaria's loan spell from Juventus is over and Ruben Loftus-Cheek has joined AC Milan.

Caicedo will likely feature alongside £107m signing Enzo Fernandez in the Blues midfield, with Conor Gallagher also an option.

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