Recently, superstar midfielder Amandine Henry has been linked to a move from the reigning Champions League winner, Lyon, to Chelsea. Henry is coming off an impressive season that was capped off by one of the greatest goals ever scored in a Women’s Champions League final. Although her age is a bit of a concern, her unique skillset would immediately unlock the Blues’ front line while providing the stability that the team has lacked in midfield.
At the end of the 2021/22 season, it was announced that midfielder and club legend Ji So-yun would be returning to her native South Korea. In addition to the loss of Ji, central midfield stalwart Melanie Leupolz announced her pregnancy back in March, meaning Chelsea will likely spend a good portion of the season without her services. The Blues now head into the season extremely thin in central midfield. Therefore, it is necessary for Emma Hayes and Co. to find someone who can fill those players’ shoes in some capacity.
Lyon’s Amandine Henry would make an excellent addition to Chelsea
While Ji is not the player she once was for Chelsea, she still provides critical ball progression and play-making at the base of the midfield. Last season, she finished second on the team in passes into the penalty area, indicating her ability to find players in dangerous positions, and she was among the league leaders in progressive passing.
On the other hand, Leupolz is an excellent possession midfielder. While not possessing Ji’s innovation with the ball, she provides a good outlet to the defense and progresses the ball well. More importantly for the Blues, Leupolz is a ball-winning machine, constantly popping up in good spots to recover possession or stifle a counterattack. The combination of her athleticism and instincts allows her to shield the back line exceptionally well.
Over the course of a long season that will include numerous cup competitions, Chelsea will need to have depth to keep players healthy and ward off injury. Not only will the Blues need depth, they will need quality players to play big minutes. Enter the aforementioned Henry.
Unfortunately, Division 1 Feminine does not keep tracking statistics, but with Henry, even an amateur fan would be able to pick out her ability immediately. She is a metronome in possession, constantly moving the ball and finding teammates in optimal positions. Henry is also supremely athletic, something Chelsea has been lacking in midfield over the past couple of seasons. Last year in particular, it was clear that teams were trying to exploit the Blues’ lack of athleticism in that area, and it was part of the reason they could not find a way out of the UWCL group stage. Henry’s ability to win the ball in space is absolutely necessary to high-pressing teams like Chelsea, and it was one of the reasons why Lyon was so successful throughout the season.
Maybe most importantly, Henry loves a big game. Whether it be essentially operating as a single pivot in the knockout stage against the US in the 2019 World Cup or scoring the goal of the season in the 2022 Champions League final, Henry knows how to raise her level of play when the lights shine brightest. Considering the Blues have not won a Champions League title and Henry has seven to her name, her big game ability could be the final piece that puts Chelsea over the top.
This summer, the Blues have shored up their defensive depth through a series of signings that address numerous needs. Although this will help significantly, Ji’s departure and Leupolz’s absence remains an area of concern for Hayes in the long run. The signing of Henry from Lyon has the potential to help Chelsea finally scale the Champions League mountain and bring the trophy to Kingsmeadow.
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