Ben Chilwell has enjoyed a good run of first-team football in recent times, proving to be the go-to left-back ahead of Christian Fuchs. Just how good could the 21-year-old become? And how could being involved in the setup at Leicester City ensure that his potential is fulfilled?
A graduate of The Foxes academy, Chilwell was introduced to first-team football by featuring in the clubs pre-season tour during the 2015/16 season by the manager at the time, Claudio Ranieri. He would go on to make his professional debut in a 5-4 loss on penalties to Hull City in the league cup, before being sent on loan to the championship with Huddersfield Town in November of the same season. However, he would soon be recalled by Leicester in January 2016, and on the 28th of July, the young full-back signed a contract that would keep him at the King Power till 2021. His Premier League debut would come on Boxing Day 2016, in an impressive display during a 2-0 loss to Everton.
Chilwell would finish that same season with decent stats as he managed a strong 78% tackle success rate, winning 76 duels whilst also chipping in with 23 interceptions and 16 clearances in his 12 appearances. The 17/18 season has also been an encouraging one as, in his 15 appearances so far this season, he has averaged a 79% tackle success rate whilst performing 20 interceptions and completing 38 clearances. The attacking side of his game has gradually improved as well since the 21-year-old has created 2 goal scoring opportunities, completed 34 crosses and also providing 16 accurate long balls.
This is largely down to the formations used by Claude Puel, the latest being a 4-4-1-1 approach with either Marc Albrighton or Demarai Gray occupying the wide left midfield role. Depending on which of these two occupy that role, determines how Chilwell can go about trying to affect games going forward. In the case of Albrighton, he is a very tidy footballer who does not over-complicate things – he makes a yard for himself and puts crosses into the box and mainly sticks to two touch football. On occasion Albrighton does drop deeper down the flank to collect the ball, which enables Chilwell to make a forward run in which he will either receive the ball so he can put in a cross himself, or draw an opposition player away from Albrighton, who then has all the time he needs to put in a threatening delivery.
In the case of Demarai Gray, he enjoys taking defenders on and using his skill and pace to ease past his man which enables him to drive into the box or to the byline to create a scoring opportunity for himself or his team-mates in the box. However, if he is up against a quick fullback, Gray likes to drift into a more central attacking role when he picks the ball up which would draw the attention of the fullback whilst also enabling Chilwell to make his run forward in search of the ball. If the ball were to be lost by someone during the build-up, Chilwell has more than enough cover for him in Harry Maguire who reads the game very well, and if Maguire has pushed up himself, Wilfried Ndidi is usually the one to drop deepest to cover his centre back. With players like Adrien Silva pulling the strings from the middle of the park, it offers yet another outlet for an attacking full-back like Chilwell as he can look to overlap his winger if the man in the middle of the park sends a long ball in behind for him to chase.
Ben Chilwell is a Leicester player through and through and if he can carry on improving his stats and performances each season like he has been over the past two seasons, then the Englishman could find himself to be a key part of the Leicester starting 11 and become a key part in their side for seasons to come.