Consistently excellent, extremely complete and improving all the time, the progression of Marc Guehi in the last two years has been hugely impressive.
Going from strength to strength since leaving Chelsea to join Crystal Palace in 2021 for £18 million, the way the 23-year-old’s established himself as one of the elite defenders in the Premier League has been a joy to watch.
Boasting all the tools to develop into a bonafide star for both club and country, the gifted Guehi’s unsurprisingly drawn praise from all corners from heavy hitters such as his England manager Gareth Southgate, Rio Ferdinand, former Eagles coach in Patrick Vieira and current boss Palace Roy Hodgson.
The words from Hodgson, who works with him closest at present, made for particularly excellent reading, with him stating: “He is anxious to become better all the time. He’s not satisfied with making the leap he has made since leaving Chelsea. He wants more than that. That’s a big positive that speaks in his favour.
“He has a lot of qualities — he’s got pace, he understands (how to) defend and likes it. He is good on the ball. If you’re ticking boxes of what I like my centre-back to look like, he ticks so many. Now it is up to him, with the help he’ll get from the guys around him, to keep building on that.”
Oozing composure and a commanding presence, it’s notable how smoothly he blends brains and brawn, with his ability to handle a variety of situations and attentiveness to danger very striking.
Athletic, strong, fast and powerful, his physical traits ensure he’s a difficult man to enjoy success against. Alert to runners in behind and into the area, quick to step out to apply pressure if his man drops deep with their back to goal, awake if he needs to support a colleague and so good at knowing when to apply his challenges, his outstanding judgement is a huge string to his bow.
A master at reading the play and anticipating what’s about to unfold, this ensures he’s typically ideally situated to efficiently break up play, thus frequenting removing the need for him to dive in recklessly. Whether it be adapting his position to deal with crosses, incisively reacting to chime in with interceptions and handling himself comfortably in 1v1s, he holds his own admirably.
Showing his class to help organise the backline with his communication and leadership skills, this is another coveted aspect of his game.
A proficient scanner to boot, this provides him with the knowledge of what’s going on around him, which amplifies his ability to execute his actions coherently.
In addition, his powerful, crouched side-on posture ensures he can move explosively in all directions to combat threats. The way he uses his arms and body to outmuscle foes and stall their momentum warrants mention as well.
Holding his own aerially despite this not being the standout element in his armoury, Guehi is a fine asset at both offensive and defensive set-pieces, plus at assisting his team to win second balls following goal kicks, where his capacity to pick up the ball’s flight path and judgement sees him come up trumps more often than not.
Another integral component towards his brilliance has been the fantastic, complementary central defensive partnership he’s formed with Joachim Andersen, for the pair are so in tune with one another’s tendencies and roles in and out of possession.
Guehi’s excellence extends over to the attacking side too, where his distribution and ball carrying enhance what a force he is. Exuding calmness and clarity with the ball at his feet, this helps him act as a massive asset to help his team beat the press to then move through the thirds.
Two-footed and with the vision to strike expansive passes needed to inject life into passages, how he’s equally adept at launching through balls over the top, hitting crisp switches of play, breaking the lines with precision, combining sharply with nearby colleagues and recycling possession are major sources of positivity.
Neat and tidy with his first touch and ball control, this provides him with a sound platform to embark on his trademark driving dribbles, where he uses his pace, agility and crafty array of manoeuvres to outfox foes, gain territory and provoke pressers to create space upfield.
Maintaining his composure in the face of intense harrying, Guehi can certainly be a tough man to dispossess, with his coolness and aforementioned comfort on the ball compounding issues for his adversaries.
Meeting many of the expectations of what is desired in a modern day central defender and with still plenty of room to fine tune his craft, the determined and mentally formidable Guehi appears destined for the top.
Having now made over 150 appearances at club level and earned six England caps, things are undoubtedly going in the right direction for the immensely talented stopper.
Relishing getting the vital playing times he’s been granted with the Eagles, there’s no doubting his decision to leave his beloved boyhood club in Chelsea has emphatically paid off.
Rising to the occasion when needed and set to be an extremely prized commodity in future transfer windows, Palace will be doing all they can to keep him for as long as possible even if they know he’ll probably depart in the not too distant future.
Learning and growing all the time, the future is certainly bright for Guehi, who has the world at his feet in terms of what he can achieve in the beautiful game – he’s just that good.