Merson defends new Chelsea signing over ‘unfair’ criticism; Gallas insists Blues ‘will fail’ this season

Joe Williams
Chelsea striker Nicolas Jackson
Nicolas Jackson looks dejected during a Premier League match.

Paul Merson has defended new Chelsea signing Nicolas Jackson over unfair criticism with the young striker needing “more time” to settle in.

The Blues signed the Senegal international from La Liga side Villarreal for £32m in the summer transfer window on an eight-year contract.

Jackson hasn’t had the best start to his time at Stamford Bridge with Ollie Watkins taking over him at the weekend as the worst finisher in the Premier League this season.

The 22-year-old has managed one goal in five appearances so far this season but former Arsenal midfielder Merson thinks Jackson needs “more time” to show what he can do.

“I like Nicolas Jackson, actually,” Merson told Sky Sports. “He makes good runs but there was one shot that summed it up in the second half [against Bournemouth] where he hit the stand, which was fortunate as that’s how wide it was.

“There’s a lot of pressure for a young lad who was playing in Spain and now is spearheading a team who is expected to win football matches because of the money they spent.

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“I don’t think it’s fair on him, so I’d definitely give him more time. Though Pochettino would take him out of the firing line if he could.”

On Chelsea’s start to the new season under Mauricio Pochettino, Merson added: “I do worry, Chelsea have got to get going. And this hasn’t been the hardest start in the world. Apart from Liverpool on the opening day, every team they’ve played could finish in the bottom half of the table.”

Former Chelsea defender William Gallas can’t get his head around why the Blues didn’t sign a “world-class striker” in the summer transfer window.

Gallas told Genting Casino: “I don’t understand how Chelsea have spent all that money and not signed a top striker. Chelsea need a world-class striker who can score at least twenty or twenty-five goals a season. Jackson has good potential.

“He looks like he will improve and score goals, but I don’t think he will reach twenty goals this season. He is not a world-class player at the moment – I think he can get there, he has great potential, but Chelsea need players that are ready to perform at the highest level straight away.”

Gallas is frustrated at Chelsea’s recruitment strategy and squad building under Todd Boehly’s ownership, he added: “Chelsea is not a club like Southampton or Brighton where you give an opportunity to young players to give them experience. This is Chelsea Football Club. They need players who are ready to make the difference every single week.

“The people who are in charge of Chelsea before the new ownership knew what they had to do. They knew that the best way to build a squad was to add one or two inexperienced players into the team and to let them learn and grow under the guidance of the experienced players.”

And he expects Chelsea to “fail” this season, Gallas continued: “This season, with all the money that the club has spent, when you consider the stature and size of the club, they will fail. It is that simple. It is a failure for a Chelsea team to not be challenging for the Champions League and the Premier League title.”