For a while it looked as if Ben Chilwell (£4.5m) would be a casualty of Thomas Tuchel’s appointment as Chelsea manager.
Upon arrival, the German immediately implemented his favoured 3-4-2-1 formation and brought Marcos Alonso (£3.0m) into the starting XI to benefit from the Spaniard’s natural instincts as a wing-back.
This meant the Blues’ £50million recruit from Leicester was forced to settle for occasional second-half cameos.
However, Chilwell adapted to Tuchel’s system quickly and regained his status as a first-choice player, prompting a run of fine form that culminated with a mightily impressive showing in the Champions League final.
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His performance in Porto allowed him to join Joao Cancelo (£5.0m) as the only two defenders to amass 200+ Dream points in 2020/21.
Chilwell contributed four goals and eight assists on top of 23 clean sheets, justifying his popularity throughout the course of the campaign.
The 24-year-old was one of the better Dream Team defenders under Frank Lampard, when results weren’t as consistent, and has gone to another level since the change of management at Stamford Bridge.
Barring a freak 5-2 defeat to West Brom, the Blues have generally been thoroughly organised under Tuchel, keeping seven clean sheets in a row during a particularly parsimonious period.
After edging out Man City in the Champions League final, many expect Chelsea to compete with Pep Guardiola’s side for domestic superiority this coming season.
And Chilwell will resume as a top-tier Dream Team asset.
At £4.5m he’s ever so slightly cheaper than the joint-most expensive defenders – Cancelo and Virgil van Dijk both start at £5.0m.
His current ownership of 12.1% feels rather low – nine other defenders are more popular at this stage.
Perhaps Dream Team punters are wary of Chelsea’s early-season fixtures: Crystal Palace, Arsenal, Liverpool, Aston Villa, Spurs, Man City.
It’s likely Chilwell and his team-mates will increase in popularity when their fixtures become much more favourable in October.
Those feeling more confident in Chelsea’s level under Tuchel – and why wouldn’t you? – could reap the rewards of backing their assets from the get-go, punishing their more hesitant rivals.
Chilwell was the second-best defender last season so for nine other players to be more popular in his position suggests something doesn’t add up.
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