RUSTENBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 26: Samuel Inkoom of Ghana clashes with Clint Dempsey of the United States during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Round of Sixteen match between USA and Ghana at Royal Bafokeng Stadium on June 26, 2010 in Rustenburg, South Africa. (Photo by Phil Cole/Getty Images)
Lately the rumors surrounding Chelsea have centered around attack minded players, and while we seem likely to add a few of those it's a near certainty that we'll also be adding a right back at some point this summer. Branislav Ivanovic is in the prime years of his career, but there are certainly plenty of deficiencies in his game when he's deployed on the right. We're also lacking much in the way of potential impact at that position amongst the youth ranks, so targeting a young more attack minded back seems to make sense.
Interestingly enough, 22 year old Samuel Inkoom seems to be slightly unsettled at his current club, FC Dnipro of the Ukraine. He seems to enjoy it there, but when asked about a move to a big club he responded with the following (found here):
Of course it is the dream of every player to play for big clubs like Manchester United, Barcelona, Chelsea and the rest and I won’t hesitate at all if they express interest in signing me.
He's not a big name like Davide Santon or Gregory van der Wiel, but the few times I've seen him play I've been extremely impressed. He also just turned 22 this past week, so he certainly fits into the youth movement at the club. After the jump we'll look at some video and see what the young Ghana international would bring to the club.
Inkoom stands 5'10" tall, and is built an awful lot like countryman Michael Essien. Like Essien, he's noted for being a workhorse with exceptional strength. He's not know for being blazingly fast, but does have enough speed to cover most wings adequately. From a physical standpoint, Inkoom is about as close to an ideal Premier League fullback as you could make.
His game is an interesting one. Inkoom is noted as an exceptional tackler, and he's very difficult to break down when he stays behind the ball. He's a bit attack minded, however, and does have a habit of being caught in attack from time to time. This leads to a few fouls as he tries to recover from being caught out of position. Still, the fact that his deficiencies are mainly mental lapses at this point are probably acceptable from a player that just turned 22 and didn't benefit from a great youth system. Here's a little highlight clip that actually focuses mainly on his defensive abilities, something that's hard to find most of the time:
As an attacker, Inkoom is a very impressive prospect. His vision of the field is excellent, and he's noted for playing exceptional balls into space. He's very good at picking out runs into the box as well, although at this point his crossing still leaves something to be desired. He's much better playing passes along the ground than floating them over the defense. He's also capable of longer than average throws, something that's nice to have in your fullbacks
He's also noted for well timed runs and excellent offensive positioning. This is probably largely due to the system the Ghana national team plays, where he's often asked to get forward more in attack. He actually started two games in Ghana's WC run as a right wing, and while he's better in a more withdrawn role he was still one of the best players on the pitch for them in the knockout stages.
Inkoom is less of a finished product than Gergory van der Wiel, but will also likely be a considerably cheaper option. I doubt he'd be a day one starter for Chelsea, more likely he'd slowly start to take minutes from Ivanovic the way Ramires usurped minutes as the season progressed. I haven't heard anything concrete connecting us to Inkoom, but as a potentially world class young right back I think it's fair to say we've watched him. It's nice to know what other options might be out there if we fail to sign van der Wiel away from Ajax, and I'd love to hear your thoughts on Inkoom as a potential Chelsea signing.