Who Is Chelsea-Linked And RC Lens Defender Jonathan Clauss?

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Jonathan Clauss has been the cause of some controversy among Chelsea fans over the past week. The 29-year-old has been linked with a move to west London, having put together two impressive seasons at RC Lens in Ligue 1.

Clauss is said to be a boyhood Chelsea fan, but questions over what any potential move means for the future of Cobham graduate Dujon Sterling has divided the fanbase.

Ultimately, though, Clauss is a long-term target of Chelsea’s, with the club having reportedly scouted his last 50 games.

The Frenchman would come in as an understudy to Reece James, providing a unique goal threat from the bench while ensuring healthy competition in the absence of potentially Barcelona-bound Cesar Azpilicueta. His transfer, however divisive, makes a lot of sense.

So, what would he offer Thomas Tuchel‘s side?

A journeyman ever since its release from Strasbourg, Clauss draws a lot of similarities to Edouard Mendy regarding his journey to the top. A player with something to prove, perhaps a chip on his shoulder, if there’s one thing Clauss is not guilty of, is complacency.

Chelsea have too often fallen into the trap of buying on reputation, and Clauss is the cut-price antipathy of this policy.

Jonathan Clauss in action for RC Lens.  (Alamy)
Jonathan Clauss in action for RC Lens. (Alamy)

Clauss‘s threat going forward is matched by very few in Europe – no defender contributed to more league goals (16) than him last season.

Equally adept at delivering crosses as he is at meeting them, Clauss possesses an innate attacking sense. Often coming in blind to meet loose balls in and around the area, his quick ascent to the top of the European game means his threat tends to go unnoticed. There’s an element of surprise underpinned by a technical proficiency that mirrors Marcos Alonso‘s time at Stamford Bridge. Clauss‘s technical proficiency is not limited to his goalscoring exploits either.

“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”

Clauss has mastered the art of the in-swinging cross. Setting himself wide of his man, he wraps his foot around the ball, whipping it with pace so it lands perfectly into the path of the runner at the back post. He manages to bypass each and every defender, leaving them flat-footed and floundering. Few wingers, let alone wingbacks possess the ability to replicate this type of move with such consistency. Clauss does not know the meaning of hitting the first man.

Jonathan Clauss with PSG star Kylian Mbappe.  (Alamy)
Jonathan Clauss with PSG star Kylian Mbappe. (Alamy)

It will come as no surprise to learn that Clauss also takes responsibility for set pieces at Lens. Equally adept at meeting front and back post runners, he fills a void in Chelsea’s attacking play that only the out of favor Judge Ziyech has managed to consistently fulfill. Ultimately Chelsea’s bloated squad last season struggled to offer a variety of threats off the bench, so with Alonso likely to move on Clauss looks like a smart replacement in terms of attacking output.

When it comes to Sterling, he and Clauss are profoundly different players. With Sterling offering nowhere near the same threat going forward – Clauss ranked third in terms of chances created last season, according to Instwhilst Sterling failed to register a single goal or assist in 25 Championship games.

This is not to say Sterling did not impress on loan at Blackpool last season, but in terms of profiling, there are very few similarities to draw upon. Sterling is also capable of playing at right center-backand it wouldn’t be altogether unsurprising if Tuchel saw his future there. The German used Sterling in this role in two pre-season games last season, so there’s no reason why Clauss and Sterling can’t coexist.

So, with both Azpilicueta and Alonso set to leave the club over the course of the transfer window, this deal appears to represent smart business. Especially for a side still reeling from the effects of last year near £ 100 million outlay on Romelu Lukaku.

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