Ben Chilwell has shown a resilience to put mistakes behind him at Leicester this season… he may not have the swagger of James Maddison but his stunning recent form has alerted the likes of Chelsea to a summer move
- Ben Chilwell has shown his ability to overcome mistakes and improve his game
- After being left out against Burnley, the left back has been superb for Leicester
- Chelsea are desperate to sign him in the summer, impressed by his recent form
- He may not have James Maddison’s swagger but Chilwell is confident in himself
At his best, Ben Chilwell is one of the finest attacking full-backs in the country yet, he has displayed a far more important quality during Leicester’s impressive season – an ability to learn quickly from his mistakes.
When the Foxes travelled to Burnley on January 19, Chilwell – a strong transfer target for Chelsea – would have expected a place in the starting XI, yet he was not even named on the bench. Instead, Chilwell cut a disconsolate figure in the stands as Leicester threw away a lead to lose 2-1.
Neither the 23-year-old nor midfielder Hamza Choudhury was considered for the clash at Turf Moor as both had missed a key training session in the build-up to the game. Manager Brendan Rodgers took a dim view of their ‘misdemeanours’ and reminded both about the commitment required to be an elite footballer.
Ben Chilwell has proven himself to be one of the best full-backs in the Premier League this year
Chilwell was left out at Burnley but returned to the Foxes team keen to make amends
Minutes played: 2,510
‘You are creating a standard that it’s not acceptable – these are steps for us,’ said Rodgers. ‘This is why when we were winning games earlier in the season and playing so well I kept saying there were things to improve on and off the pitch.
‘It’s a constant step for excellence and that’s a day-to-day thing. You work with players but of course authority is important and in particular for young players, they have to understand when you prepare for really important games, you can’t be missing your training.
‘They’re young players that are learning that if you want to be at the top end of this table it’s a real mindset professionally that you need to have, and we can’t carry anyone.’
Yet three days after being cast aside at Burnley, Chilwell returned to the starting XI for the home game against West Ham, and delivered an excellent performance, helping his team to a 4-1 victory. It showed a strong mind and the capacity to bounce back quickly from a setback – qualities Chilwell will need in abundance if ever he is to join one of the division’s highest-profile clubs.
Manager Brendan Rodgers made it clear he would not tolerate any standards slipping
Chilwell has been a driving force for Leicester as they close in on a Champions League return
Chilwell has often been overshadowed this season by his opposite full-back, Portuguese star Ricardo Pereira, but he has still played an important role in Leicester’s march to third in the table.
With a strong finish to the campaign, he would surely have retained his spot as England’s first-choice left back for Euro 2020, had the tournament gone ahead as planned, while the coronavirus crisis that caused the suspension of the Premier League means the nature of the summer transfer window is still to be decided.
While his defensive game still needs work, Chilwell – a poster boy for the Leicester academy – is a serious force when charging forward, and has developed a good understanding with left-sided attacker Harvey Barnes, another academy product and the break-out star of Leicester’s campaign.
Chilwell is not part of the leadership group that drive standards in the Leicester dressing room – Kasper Schmeichel, Wes Morgan, Jamie Vardy, Christian Fuchs and Youri Tielemans are key figures in that respect – but as an academy graduate, Chilwell should be an example for current youth players to follow, and he has largely been so.
Chilwell may not have the swagger of James Maddison (R) but he has plenty of confidence
Yet his close association with the club means he is scrutinised closely by Foxes fans, who have targeted him at times this season. Again, valuable lessons for Chilwell to learn.
‘As the fans’ expectation has grown, and the performances they want from players and the team has grown, and that’s something that he, as a top talent, has to live with, but he’s strong enough to deal with that,’ Rodgers added. ‘He’s a brilliant young player that still, for me, has a lot of improvements to make.’
Off the field, Chilwell is very close to James Maddison, another young star of Leicester’s season. Although Chilwell lacks Maddison’s cocksure swagger, he still has great confidence in his ability and is convinced he can reach the very top of the game.
Leicester still hope he will do so with them – but Chelsea are likely to test that ambition to the full.
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