Despite spending a world record fee on Kepa Arrizabalaga in the summer of 2018, Chelsea are reportedly in the market for a new goalkeeper, with the Spanish ‘keeper failing to impress since his big-money arrival from Athletic Bilbao.
Ahead of next season, there have been a number of top quality goalkeepers linked with the Blues, including Ajax’s Andre Onana, a former Barcelona ‘keeper who has been hugely impressive for the Eredivisie side over the last few campaigns. If Frank Lampard’s side do pursue a deal for Onana, it will be their second transfer raid on Ajax in the space of a few months, having already signed midfielder Hakim Ziyech from the Dutch side.
This got us thinking, what kind of impact could Andre Onana have at Chelsea should he sign for the club ahead of next season?
We used the popular football management simulation game Football Manager 2020 to have a bit of fun and find out how Chelsea would perform with Andre Onana in their squad.
Andre Onana ‘signs’ for Chelsea in July 2020
The Football Manager database currently contains data on more than 800,000 individuals and 45,000 active clubs, with data sourced from their international on the ground scouting network which numbers roughly 1,000 people, among their ranks are some who are involved in football in professional capacities, including scouts and coaches.
In addition, each annual iteration of Football Manager has built-in algorithms which check for outliers and data discrepancies. Data accuracy is further ensured by input from contributors who are active within the professional game (players, agents etc.) who provide regular feedback.
To set up this simulation, we used the Football Manager 2020 editor to arrange the transfer of Andre Onana to Chelsea on July 1st 2020.
This is how Onana’s player profile looks like in Football Manager 2020 in July 2020.
The Cameroonian goalkeeper is one of the best stoppers in Europe, not only with his hands but technically too, Onana has some outstanding attributes. And, at just 24, he’s a really attractive long-term goalkeeping option, according to FM 2020.
We then simulated the 2020/21 Premier League season to see what sort of impact Onana could have at Chelsea.
This is what happened.
Chelsea’s season in 2020/21 with Andre Onana
Let’s take a look at Andre Onana’s 2020/21 Premier League season for Chelsea in more detail, looking at some of the most important stats.
The 24-year-old started 32 games in the league, missing six due to injury, conceding only 27 goals in that time, with an additional 12 clean sheets. The Cameroonian also had a superb 77% save percentage, saving 88 of the 115 shots he faced.
On the ball, Onana had a 52% passing accuracy, completing 334 of the 643 passes he attempted, also creating two chances during the campaign.
To put these statistics in perspective, let’s take a look at how Kepa fared in the six starts where Onana didn’t play.
In the six starts Kepa made in Onana’s absence, the Spaniard conceded nine goals, only secured one clean sheet, had a slightly lower 72% save percentage and a lower 49% pass completion rate. Kepa’s stats aren’t terrible, but clearly Onana was the better performing goalkeeper of the two.
In fact, if you work Kepa’s nine goals conceded in six games into an average, Kepa’s goals conceded average is 1.5 goals conceded per-game, which means over the course of an entire league campaign (38 games), it would work out to 57 goals conceded. This number is eerily close to Chelsea’s real-life goals conceded figure of 54 goals in the 2019/20 Premier League season.
Using the same logic with Onana, if the Ajax ‘keeper had played 38 league games in our simulation, he would have conceded around 32 goals. That’s a 22-goal swing!
Onana’s 27 goals conceded in the Premier League put him in the top three goalkeeper’s statistically in terms of goals conceded, with only Alisson conceding fewer in our 2020/21 simulation.
And despite only starting 32 games, Onana’s 12 clean sheets put him at 5th in the league for top clean sheets.
Due to Onana’s strong performances, he was named in Chelsea’s statistically best eleven in our 2020/21 simulation, ahead of Kepa and Willy Caballero.
Ahead of Onana, Chelsea’s best defence was Emerson, Rudiger, Tomori and Azpilicueta.
Kante, Ziyech, Hudson-Odoi, Mount, Pulisic and Werner completed the Chelsea 2020/21 best eleven. So, how did Chelsea actually perform in the Premier League with Onana in their squad?
Here is how the final 2020/21 Premier League table looked.
Chelsea narrowly missed out on the league title, with Manchester City winning the Premier League with 89 points, just two points ahead of Frank Lampard’s side, who also finished narrowly above Liverpool and Manchester United.
There’s surely a strong argument that if Onana hadn’t been injured for those six games, Chelsea would have won the 2020/21 Premier League in our simulation.