Google the name Gary Cahill and you will find out the basics about the man at the centre of January’s main transfer saga; Gary James Cahill is a 26-year-old, 6ft 2ins, central defender who plays for Bolton Wanderers and is an England international. He has had a career that started at Aston Villa before he went on to play on loan for Burnley and Sheffield United before completing a £5m move to Bolton, a hefty fee and is still Bolton’s fourth most expensive signing ever. Cahill has played 147 for the Lancashire club, you could say Bolton gave him the platform that took him to where he is today.
Cahill looks set to sign for Chelsea this week, but it could have easily been different if Cahill had signed for Spurs on the final day of the last transfer window, but a deal couldn’t be done as Spurs couldn’t agree a fee for the centre-back. Now we find Cahill is moving for a knock down fee, reported to be £7m, but the move is being held up by reported high wage demands. Cahill is of course out of contract in the summer and there is no doubt that his agent has given him the options: 1 – move now, get a fee for Bolton and the agent will negotiate a contract that won’t be a million miles away from what he could get as a free agent. 2 – There is enough interest from top teams to wait until the summer and then he can get more money in signing-on fee and wages.
Reports suggest that Gary Cahill/his agent is looking for a basic wage of at least £100,000 per week over a 5-year contract and a £4m signing on fee. On top of that you will have a standard appearance bonus, along with some other chunky bonuses. To put this in perspective, this equates to a £30m contract, with the signing on fee included, and that’s the minimum amount Cahill will get over 5-years. There is no doubt Cahill has been advised this next move is his big pay-day. If Chelsea offered Cahill the terms reported, it would put him in the same earning bracket as players like Ashley Cole, Carlos Puyol and Rio Ferdinand for example. It got me thinking, is Gary Cahill really that good?
Obviously he has been chased by a host of the Premier Leagues top sides – as well as Chelsea, Spurs and Arsenal have all registered a serious interest, with Manchester United and Manchester City both monitoring him. On face of things you would think that Cahill is a serious contender to become an England regular, even if at times he finds himself behind Jagielka and Lescott in the pecking order. But I remember watching Cahill a few times this season and he has been turned by a few strikers and the majority of Bolton fans would say his form this season, like the team, has been poor compared to last season.
So I decided to speak to our data partner Opta and see how Cahill compares to the Premier League’s top defenders:
If we look closer at his stats, he has been, more or less, ever-present in the Bolton defence with the best comparative players being Vincent Kompany and John Terry in terms of minutes played. Comparing a player from bottom-of-the-league Bolton, to top-of-the-league Manchester City may seem an unfair comparison, some would even say cruel, but there are some easy area’s where a realistic comparison can be made.
Let’s discard the total number of clearances that Cahill has made and headed clearances as Bolton will have to defend more than the defenders in this comparison. What is more telling is Cahill’s winning tackle percentage – it is a lot lower than you would expect, especially when you compare it to the amount of tackles Cahill has actually made. Look at Ferdinand, a player said to be in decline from his best years, Ferdinand has made only two more tackles, but has nearly won all of them. Cahill has made a good amount of interceptions, the second highest after Kompany, so we can conclude he reads the game well and his positioning is good. With the amount of shots blocked, again we can expect it to be higher than the others, with Bolton having one of the worst defensive records in the league. At least it shows he is committed and brave enough to get in the way, whilst indicating his position and closing down is good.
Cahill has the second lowest amount of passes, he has the lowest pass completion percentage, which counteracts the argument he is a modern ball-playing centre-back, which would fit in with AVB’s style of play at Chelsea. I was interested to see Cahill’s attacking stats, as this is apparently one of the strengths of his game. I have always thought of Cahill as a centre-back who is good in the air attacking corners or hitting the target from second ball knock downs, he does make a lot of attempts, but his end product is low having only scored twice.
Cahill’s form this season, plus looking at his performance stats, draws me to the conclusion that he is not really going to make any significant improvement to Chelsea. There is no doubt he is not a bad defender, but with the high line that AVB likes to play at Chelsea and the cultured attacking football, it doesn’t seem like he will make any significant contribution other than bulk up the squad and add cover in that area. Chelsea may have beaten rivals to his signature and also got him at a knock-down price, but maybe Cahill is a defender that is flattering to deceive and when it comes to performing in the Champions League, he may be found wanting.