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Nicolas Jackson: Chelsea hoping to benefit from sliding doors moment after collapse of Bournemouth move

Nicolas Jackson has completed his much anticipated move to Chelsea - so what can Blues fans expect?

Nicolas Jackson
Image: Nicolas Jackson has joined Chelsea from Villarreal

Sliding Doors - the iconic film directed by Peter Howitt - recently celebrated its 25th anniversary.

It follows Gwyneth Paltrow's character Helen and the two paths her life could take depending on whether or not she catches a train one day.

Nicolas Jackson was still three years away from being born, but the man Mauricio Pochettino is pinning his hopes on at Chelsea has already experienced his very own Sliding Doors moment.

Bournemouth were close to signing the 22-year-old back in January from Villarreal only for the deal to collapse amid concerns over a hamstring injury he had suffered. Jackson failed a medical on the south coast.

The Cherries had indeed agreed a £21m fee but with relegation still a serious possibility, they needed as many fit players as possible and opted not to gamble on Jackson's status.

Had he moved to Bournemouth, would Jackson have predominantly played wide of Dominic Solanke, once of Chelsea? The player would shake off those concerns with a blistering end to the campaign for the Yellow Submarine.

Upon his return in March, Jackson was moved into a more central position and scored 10 LaLiga goals in 11 games as Villarreal finished in fifth place and secured a Europa League berth. He won May's LaLiga player of the month award.

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Such form has inflated the forward's value to meet his €35m release clause - although Chelsea paid slightly more in exchange for more favourable payment terms.

Jackson was born and raised in Gambia but represents Senegal. He impressed in his home nation at ASC Tilene and Casa Sports de Ziguinchor before moving to Spain in 2019, initially joining Villarreal's Juvenil A.

Nicolas Jackson's 2022/23 league stats compared to Chelsea forward.

Having spent time out on loan with Mirandes in Spain's second division, his breakthrough at Villarreal came under now Aston Villa head coach Unai Emery, and is considered a forward of great potential.

A red card in early April against Real Sociedad led to a one-game suspension, while he had previously fallen out of favour under Villarreal boss Quique Setien, which led to Bournemouth's winter interest.

Southampton, under Sport Republic co-founder Rasmus Ankersen, were also ready to pounce for Jackson, who progressed through Villarreal's youth ranks before making his LaLiga debut in 2021.

Chelsea have plunged to strike oil in the desert, with Saudi Arabia emerging as the coveted destination for ageing fringe players.

Conversely, Jackson has his career in front of him, and his stock has skyrocketed.

Emery said at the beginning of last season: "He is a player who is in the process of growing. There are times when some players have to go elsewhere to grow, but we are betting on him because his contribution is very high.

"He must get experience in front of goal and this is a learning process. We need to establish young players and we want to bet on them."

In his native Senegal, the 6ft 2in forward has been dubbed the 'next Neymar' - due to his combination of quick feet, impressive dribbling skills and an eye for goal.

National team coach Aliou Cisse only called Jackson up to his squad for the first time just two months before the World Cup before being selected as his wildcard pick.


The forward - who made his international debut against the Netherlands in Qatar - is known for his directness, which is partly the rationale between Setien only starting him in 33 per cent of Villarreal's games prior to his hamstring setback.

There was a clash in playing style with Setien's emphasis on a more patient, progressive approach, but the verticality in his play is something Pochettino has identified to suit his philosophy and the make-up of his squad.

The Argentine is recruiting a very versatile forward capable of playing across the front line.

But given Chelsea's wealth of options on the flanks and absence of a true No 9, even after the arrival of Christopher Nkunku from RB Leipzig, Jackson could yet emerge as the attacking focal point next season at Stamford Bridge.

Back in late January, Gary O'Neil was Bournemouth manager, Graham Potter was still finding his feet at Chelsea while Pochettino was still keeping his cards close to his chest over his next move in football.

In standing still, missing the Cherries train, Jackson is now set to embark on a move that will change the course of his life.

Could Jackson be the next Drogba?

Personal terms on a long-term contract have been agreed in principle
Image: Jackson has signed an eight-year deal at Stamford Bridge

Sky Sports News reporter Mark McAdam on the Transfer Show:

Nicolas Jackson will excite Chelsea fans, absolutely. This is a player who has huge potential.

He's a focal point No 9, he's got the ability to drop into pockets of space and link the play. He's hard-working, he's got great technical ability, his finishing has improved. He's certainly proved in LaLiga he can score goals.

He's versatile, he can press from the front and has all the attributes you need. The only question mark I would say is whether he needs another step - would Bournemouth have been a good first step for him? They were so close to signing him in January.

But I'll say this under my breath - could he be the next Didier Drogba? Could he be that player for Chelsea?

Follow the summer transfer window with Sky Sports

Who will be on the move this summer when the transfer window opens on June 14 and closes at 11pm on September 1 in England and midnight in Scotland?

Keep up to date with all the latest transfer news and rumours in our dedicated Transfer Centre blog on Sky Sports' digital platforms. You can also catch up with the ins, outs and analysis on Sky Sports News.

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