Andreas Christensen signed for FC Barcelona on July 4th 2022 after ending his contract with Chelsea. This is one of the key points to understand the reason why he still keeps that low profile, the fact that he joined Barça for free.
In most contexts, his signing would bring along headlines, as he was a starter that belonged to a club that had just won the Champions League, which would certainly add the competitive spirit that Barça just needed at that time. However, there is something that we can’t forget: Barça has never been an average context and even less in their current financial struggle.
The club spent 158 million euros during the summer transfer market, which resulted in difficult understanding from part of the crowd based on the club’s economical situation. As a result, Barça couldn’t afford to make a single poor choice in their new additions and so they needed to perform their highest level right away.
The spotlights were on these group of players: Raphinha, 58 million euros; Robert Lewandowski, 45 million and expected to be the star of the new program; Koundé, 50 million euros that made him to be expected as the main defender for Barça in the long term; and Pablo Torre, who joined from Spanish Third Division with the hope to become ‘the new Pedri’.
The arrivals for free (you do not pay for the transfer, but you are actually expected to pay a higher salary to the player), made them to have not that much pressure on them and so now spotlights either. Christensen, Kessié, Marcos Alonso and Bellerín joined Barça with nothing to lose.
The prove that really shows the low profile that the Danish player joined Barça with is the fact that even a sport digital media announced his signing by using a picture from a famous YouTuber by mistake. If you join somewhere and no one even knows you, things can just go better instantly.
Christensen, the perfect fit for the team:
Due to the fact that not having an elite player for the right back position, Jules Koundé had to step up to cover that, which allowed Christensen to become a starter as a central defender despite seeming to be behind the Frenchman and Araújo at first. However, once he entered the starting XI, he is not expected to leave it anymore.
As far as he has been available to play (an injury before the World Cup kept him out of the squad for a while), the Danish has been key for a Barça whose foundations have been built from backwards, specially at LaLiga. They are the best defense in the league and one of the best ones in Europe if we take into account their level in their home league.
This stat is more negative in European competitions, but they have only conceded eight goals in LaLiga so far and only one (PK) at home at their draw 1-1 against Espanyol.
A defender that does not drag the attention:
I have been a central defender my whole life and so when we watch professional games, the kind of defenders that count on excellent physical conditions are the ones that we tend to focus on the most. The best possible example is Ronald Araújo, his partner in crime. In fact, these defenders seem to be crated in a laboratory: they are tall, fast and great at jumping. They have it all.
If these kind of defenders impress the average spectators, and get all the headlines, just think of how much it means for the ones that play in that position and are aware of the fact that he do not have those conditions. Christensen, the defender that is getting that much praise in this article, is not that kind of player.
Christensen and Araújo make a great duo because they complement each other. Due to the fact that the Danish does not have those physical conditions, he does not stand out for his tackles (0,5 versus the 0,92 from the Uruguayan per game) or for his winning duels percentage per game (58.33% versus 68.57% by Araujo), even though they both win around five duels each per game.
Christensen shines for his incredible intelligence and does not need those physical conditions to be almost a wall for his opponents. This is a similar example to what Gerard Piqué used to be (even though he was physically tougher than what people really thought). This comparison must be useful to stand out that one of the best abilities that any player can count on in football is to know how to position himself the right way at every moment.
In addition, Andreas Christensen is also key for Ronald Araújo defensively, as he can play in both sides (most of the time on the left, despite being right footer) and is crucial when playing the ball from backwards (66 passes versus 53 from each other per game) and so he has more accuracy as well (94% versus 89%). Together they form a great partnership because their features fit in with each other just perfectly, one of them to focus more on being the though defender and the other to take more responsibilities to fix problems and play the ball.
This article is actually being posted at the worst momentum of the season for Andreas Christensen. At Manchester he had to battle against way faster players (Antony and Garnacho) and he made a mistake in Almería that resulted in a goal conceded by Barça and prevented them from increasing their lead towards Real Madrid.
That is exactly why it is necessary to remind and analyze the outstanding performance from the Danish player this season and point out the fact that his signing could be one of the best possible ones for Barça in the last few years. For all of this, my appreciation for all of those central defenders that do their job right without the spotlights on them. And in name of all the central defenders “not made in a laboratory”: long life to Christensen and the quality to go unnoticed.
Translated by Guillermo Bermejo.
Main image: @FCBarcelona_es.