Leicester City’s 22-year old left-back has flourished this season, recording 4 assists and collecting 4 Man of the Match awards for his performances throughout the campaign. Chilwell is Leicester’s academy graduate — he made his debut for the club in that miraculous 2015/16 season against Hull City in the League Cup.
By many counts, Chilwell is flying well under the radar, perhaps not dissimilarly to some of his Leicester City teammates. The East Midlands club boasts the likes of Harry Maguire, Ricardo Pereira, James Maddison, Wilfred Ndidi, and Youri Tielemans, all of whom have yet to hit their prime and four, including Chilwell, just 22. The talent that these four have shown during this past season points to some very good times ahead for the Foxes — and by contrast, makes their finish as the 9th side in the Premier League fairly perplexing to say the least.
While Maddison took many of the plaudits in his debut season for the club, and rightly so considering he was the only player in 2018/19 to create 100 goalscoring chances, Chilwell deserves more of the spotlight. Football is becoming more and more about transition especially in the Premier League, where apart from Man City who basically have 100% of the possession (and are already labeled as favorites to win the 2019/20 PL), teams have heeded the importance of fullbacks who manufacture opportunities in attack and cover adequately in defence. Liverpool’s Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold are prime examples of the modern fullback — the two combined for 23 assists this season. Alexander-Arnold alone has provided more assists this season than Jesse Lingard has in his whole career, and that is as good a testament as any to how football is changing and the shifting role of fullbacks.
Although Ben Chilwell’s 4 assists seem meek in comparison to the likes of the two Liverpool fullbacks, the struggles of Leicester must be taken into account. The club have been struggling to stick with any one manager, and smart money won’t be on Brendan Rodgers sticking around for the long haul; though it would seem that he offers exactly what the Foxes have been craving with his free-flowing style. Chilwell is making headway with the national team as well, with his main competitor Danny Rose having what could be called a comeback season after his struggles with injuries and transfer speculation in the past couple seasons. Chilwell will lead England in the UEFA Nations League this summer, where his performances will be keenly watched for sure.
In a season where the headlines have been largely about Liverpool and Man City’s race for the ages, the embarrassing battle for top four, and even the astounding example of Wolves as the model for efficiency and commitment, Leicester City have been left out. The Foxes’ rising stars deserve a lot more notice, and surely will in the coming seasons wherein they flourish, but for those looking to buy, the prices will only get steeper. Chilwell’s energy, defensive nous, and offensive capabilities are reminiscent of Chelsea legend Ashley Cole. And at just 22 years of age, there is much to be said about the career trajectory of the Englishman.