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In Focus: Jackson can Nic goals and break Chelsea's striker curse
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Danny Ryan
Nicolas Jackson was Villarreal's top scorer in 2022-23
Nicolas Jackson was Villarreal's top scorer in 2022-23

Chelsea are set to complete the signing of Nicolas Jackson from Villarreal.

The striker only scored his first top-tier goal for the Yellow Submarine in August 2022, but the Blues are now primed to splash a reported £32million on him.

We shine the spotlight on the 22-year-old and see what he could bring to Mauricio Pochettino's side next season.

Nic a goal

Jackson established himself as a ruthless scorer in his first full season at Villarreal.

The Senegalese ace bagged 12 goals in 26 LaLiga appearances last term — all of them from open play — with 56.1% of his shots finding the target.

An impressive 0.29 of his strikes resulted in a goal, the best record in the Spanish top-flight.

He really hit form towards the end of the 2022-23 campaign which helped Quique Setien's side finish fifth and qualify for the Europa League.

The speedy No15 netted 10 times in his last 11 matches, a better record than Chelsea as a whole unit managed in the same period (nine goals in 11 matches).

Unlike potential departure Kai Havertz, Jackson is a natural goalscorer who is capable of drifting out wide to great effect and giving the Blues' forward line a new dimension.

Nicolas Jackson was lethal in front of goal last season
Nicolas Jackson was lethal in front of goal last season

Sadness for us

Jackson's superb impact at Villarreal is further highlighted by Setien's evident disappointment at losing him this summer.

The ex-Barcelona manager said in May: "We already knew the potential.

"He had been injured for two-and-a-half months and he could not prove himself, but he is a footballer who now has eight goals in seven games, including two assists.

"The reality is that he is going to finish the season in a spectacular way, and the sadness for us is that the most likely thing is that someone will come and take him away, paying double what they paid then."

Raw talent

While Jackson has no trouble scoring goals with either foot and running in behind defences on the counter, a number of areas of his game require serious work. 

The three-cap international's dribbling skills have seen him dubbed the next Neymar in his homeland, but he completed just 23 take-ons from 34 attempts last season.

He also does not use his 6ft 2in frame to his advantage anywhere near enough.

The Gambia-born striker failed to score a single headed goal in 2022-23 and won only 13 of his 43 aerial duels.

And the less said about his passing numbers, the better.

Jackson ranked outside LaLiga's top 300 for both passes completed and passing accuracy. 

That is a particular department which will need improvement if he is to excel in Pochettino's free-flowing setup.

Kai Havertz outperformed Nicolas Jackson in some key metrics last season
Kai Havertz outperformed Nicolas Jackson in some key metrics last season

Chelsea chance

But Jackson should have plenty of time to work with the new Chelsea boss in pre-season and begin the process of eradicating those weaknesses.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Romelu Lukaku's futures are up in the air, so opportunities alongside confirmed summer arrival Christopher Nkunku should be easy to come by during the Blues' US tour.

Patience will be needed at first, but the initial signs from Jackson look very promising for Chelsea.

For the first time since the days of Diego Costa, the Blues could have a reliable finisher in their ranks — one who can finally break the No9 curse.


ChelseaNicolas JacksonVillarrealPremier LeagueLaLiga
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