Chelsea Women: What to know about center half transfer target Maelle Lakrar

The January transfer window is open, and despite being in a good position domestically, and in Europe, Chelsea Women still have ways in which it can improve the squad. Here's a look at one of the club's rumored targets.
Portugal v France - UEFA Womens Nations League
Portugal v France - UEFA Womens Nations League / Quality Sport Images/GettyImages
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Sam Kerr, Maelle Lakrar
Australia v France: Quarter Final - FIFA Women's World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023 / Bradley Kanaris/GettyImages

A rundown of Maelle Lakrar's game in the backline

For her country, Lakrar has for the most part been slotted into the right-sided center back position within a back four. That inserts her on the same side as her compatriot Eve Perisset. It makes even more sense as to why the club is interested given the fact that Jess Carter has predominately served as the center half on the left side for CFCW this season.

With the two-time Division 1 Feminine champions, Lakrar has rotated, playing a part on both flanks. Against Lyon the other month, No. 20 started and finished the game on the left in a formation that fluctuated between a back-three and a back-five throughout the match.

Those are by no means the only positions she can compete in, though. It shouldn't surprise anyone that one of the 23 year old's top traits is her versatility on the pitch. Same goes with summer signings Sjoeke Nusken, and Catarina Macario. We've seen her switch position in game, shown at the World Cup. One of the key things that is quite intriguing about her game is a fearlessness to push into higher levels of the pitch. Her display over the summer against Ireland is a prime example of that. Lakrar served as the right back on that afternoon, netting two goals, one of which was created by her intelligence and creativity in the final third. The play is shown beginning on 0:44 of this clip.

Throughout the World Cup, these forward thinking movements became a theme. Though she tends to release at some point as she carries the ball up the pitch, that ability to make runs in behind is there. Due to Montpellier not being a top three of four side in French club football, her presence is required in far more defensive areas. What we could see in CFCW blue is that talent to take the space in front of her, bypassing a good chunk of the pitch before laying it off to a creator like Lauren James. Carter, Bright, and Kadeisha Buchanan are miles off the percentile she stands in for center back progressive carries per match.

The one-on-one defending is not quite there at the moment, but that's Carter's job. Remember she's 23. Lakrar still knows what it takes to step in front, and anticipate an opposition's forward action. She sees danger very well, distributing it before her side is in even more of a hole. France's No. 2 never looks like she's in a hurry in that process, another valuable trait in her back pocket.

Currently, the defender sits in the 83rd percentile for center halves across Europe in tackles per 90 minutes. Her positioning allows her to be that efficient. For her age, a quality intelligence and footballing IQ is already there. At the World Cup against one of the most creative international sides in the women's football, Brazil, Lakrar led France in interceptions and tackles won. She possesses the capacity to track a through ball in behind, cut it off, and start the attack going the other way. Lakrar utilizes her speed in moments of transition defensively, something that Chelsea requires given the quickness of WSL attackers and the regularity of opposition counterattacks.

Hayes is not going to count on her to find the back of the net, but it is nice to know that there is a track record there. Outside of scoring three in the past year in her country's colors, Lakrar has netted a goal in each of the past two campaigns for her club side.