Chelsea FC: Josh McEachran Dwarfed by Bertrand Traore

Allan JiangTransfers CorrespondentMay 1, 2015

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 20: Josh McEachran of Chelsea looks on during the FA Youth Cup Semi Final 2nd Leg between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on April 20, 2011 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Chelsea's English central midfielder Josh McEachran, 22, is slowly rectifying his career on loan at Vitesse.

Surpassing McEachran's gradual progression at express pace is Burkinabe centre/right-forward Bertrand Traore, 19, who has an infinitely bigger chance of developing into a Chelsea star.

Traore: Fast-Riser

You know the Eredivisie is Traore's comfort zone when the VitesseTV reporter asks: "Should you have scored a hat-trick tonight?"

"I could have scored a hat-trick or more [against Excelsior]," Traore said, per VitesseTV. "I think I was not sharp [in front of goal]."

Last September, Abiola Dauda registered a hat-trick in a 3-1 win over Excelsior, kickstarting a purple patch, scoring five goals and providing three assists in five Eredivisie games.

"[Dauda] is very important for us. He works for the team and also scores goals for us," Traore said, per VitesseTV. "We need this kind of striker. [Also], he is a good man on and off the pitch."

You can infer the "good man" reference as Dauda imparting words of wisdom on Traore, at the time a wayward right-sided forward with no end product vying with Zakaria Labyad and Renato Ibarra for a starting position.

Dauda may have inadvertently hurt himself by helping out Traore.

One week last December, Traore changed his fortunes and irreparably damaged Dauda.

  • December 14, 2014: Groningen 1-1 Vitesse (one goal).
  • December 18, 2014: Ajax 0-4 Vitesse (two goals)
  • December 21, 2014: Vitesse 3-0 Heracles Almelo (two goals).

By scoring 62.5 per cent of Vitesse's goals in a three-game span, Traore morphed from a No. 11 to a No. 9.

  • Centre-Forward: 10 goals, 3 assists, 14 games.
  • Right-Forward: 1 goal, 1 assist, 11 games.
  • Substitute: 0 goal, 0 assist, 2 games.

Traore is to Vitesse manager Peter Bosz what Thierry Henry was to Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger—one positional switch changes everything.

By scoring 0.71 goals per game as a No. 9, you would project Traore to be around the 19-21 goal mark in the hypothetical scenario that he started and finished the Eredivisie season as a centre-forward.

  • 2014: Dauda was emulating the likes of Danko Lazovic, Nikos Machlas, Pierre van Hooijdonk, Roy Makaay and Wilfried Bony.
  • 2015: Permanently loses starting No. 9 position to Traore. Now Dauda is interchanging from Jong Vitesse to the Vitesse bench.

McEachran: Squad Player

By the time Traore sprung back up to his feet, the entire Excelsior defence were looking at each other in desolation, begrudgingly coming to terms with being outclassed by No. 27. 

Nine seconds before Traore's zigzagging run culminated with the ball striking the back of the net, Tom van Weert—Excelsior's top scorer—was in possession.

Veering to his right, Van Weert was blindsided by McEachran, intercepting the ball and completing an off-balance pass to Traore.

Waiting 368 minutes, 11 games and seven months, McEachran at last savoured the feeling of registering his first assist in the Eredivisie.

In the post-match interview after Vitesse's 3-1 win over Excelsior, Traore pointed out Labyad duping the Excelsior defence, rather than McEachran's pass.

"[My] second goal was the best, because it was more individual," Traore said, per Vitesse's website. "I used the run of [Labyad] to go one-on-one with the [Excelsior] defender."

It is an assist that looks better on paper for McEachran as in reality, it was a basic pass that would not have turned into a goal if not for Traore's dribbling prowess.

Prior to laying off a routine pass to Traore, McEachran accumulated one assist in 30 league games dating back to the 2010/11 season.

He needs more cheap assists to compensate going 1,752 minutes and counting without a goal in league-play, which proves to you he is not a Marko Vejinovic-like threat.

Vejinovic, a powerful, all-action, box-to-box midfielder, who is a dual-threat to score and create goals, missed the Excelsior game, forcing Bosz to start McEachran.

McEachran's passing map.

Monopolising possession by completing 87.5 per cent of 88 passes against Excelsior was not the reason why McEachran was handed a successive start in Vitesse's 3-0 win over Dordrecht.

It was Davy Propper being booked against Excelsior, his fifth yellow card of the season, which led to a one-game suspension, thus keeping McEachran in the starting 11.

Darting to the left side of midfield, McEachran was being pressed by Joris van Overeem from the right.

Looking up, McEachran's path was blocked by Giovanni Korte.

Outsmarting both Dordrecht players, McEachran hit a sublime cross-field pass to play in the onrushing Ibarra. 

This time, McEachran deserved his assist, and in that moment, he lived up to what he promised when he arrived on loan at Vitesse.

"I'm a creative midfielder, so I like to set up goals," McEachran said, per VitesseTV. "My vision and passing are probably my main attributes."

McEachran's passing map.

McEachran dominated Dordrecht, leading Vitesse in passes (71) and shots created for his team-mates (three). 

Guaranteed starter in Vitesse's next game against ADO Den Haag, right? No.

Out of 18 Eredivisie clubs, Excelsior are 15th and Dordrecht are last.

Dordrecht are an Eerste Divisie-standard team eking out its Eredivisie existence, so McEachran was expected to pad up his statistics. 

His performance did not sway Bosz's thinking.

  • VitesseTV reporter"Do we [now] see the real Josh McEachran from Chelsea?"
  • McEachran"More and more every week, I'm getting fitter and fitter, so [yes], I'd like to say that."

The "real Josh McEachran" is emblematic of the elevated expectations burdened on him.

McEachran is in his fifth season as a professional footballer, and he is still a work in progress.

Bosz is sympathetic to the highs and lows McEachran has already experienced.

"At 17 [years old], you think you're a man but you're still a kid," Bosz said, per Matt Barlow at the Daily Mail. "I'm sure he's been affected by what's happened to him."

To Bosz, McEachran is an Eredivisie-standard playernothing more, nothing less.

"Can [McEachran] reach the top? With him it is difficult to say. He will play at a good level, for sure. At the top? That is something different," Bosz said, per Matt Barlow at the Daily Mail. "I don't know where it ends. It's up to him."

When you watch McEachran, you see a player scrapping to preserve his status as a top-flight footballer.

You lose hope in him and start backing the next elegant central midfielder from Chelsea's academy—Charlie Colkett.

Meanwhile, Traore is cruising through Eredivisie games, scoring goals of deluxe quality, which suggests he is on course to reach the top.

+allanjiang.

When not specified, statistics via WhoScored.com. 

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