Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Meet Michael Hector, the surprise signing for Chelsea on deadline day... with 11 clubs by age of 23

Chelsea have made the most surprising signing of deadline day after landing Reading’s Michael Hector. An unknown quantity to the majority of Premier League supporters, Sportsmail takes a look at who the Blues have spent £4million on.

What’s the deal?

Hector is a 23-year-old central defender who has only broken into the Reading first team over the last 18 months. He made his debut in January 2014 and has since made 54 starts for the Royals.

It took the player a good while to force himself into the plans of the Championship outfit. Hector spent no less than nine temporary stints away from the Madejski Stadium, spending time at Bracknell Town, Didcot Town, Havant and Waterlooville, Oxford City, Horsham, Dundalk, Barnet, Shrewsbury Town, Aldershot, Cheltenham and then Aberdeen.

It was during his loan spell up in Scotland when Hector really caught the eye - commanding performances for Aberdeen finally convincing Reading he was ready to step up into English football’s second tier.

What do you get from him?
He is a big, strong, imposing centre-half. At 6ft 4in, Hector rarely gets bullied by Championship strikers aerially, but does have a tendency to struggle on the turn when going towards his own goal.

By his own admission Hector likes to get himself on the ball and play out from the back; he has chipped in with a few goals for Reading and that he is comfortable in possession means there could be a future for him sitting in midfield, in the same way Kurt Zouma has filled in for Chelsea.
Michael Hector poses with his father Pat earlier in the summer

How has he been this season?

Manager Steve Clarke dropped Hector from Reading’s starting XI after the opening day defeat at Birmingham. During that game he allowed Blues striker Clayton Donaldson to drag him out of position with relative ease and made a crucial mistake in the build-up to Birmingham’s second goal - trying to take the ball down on the touchline rather than kicking to touch, he trod on the ball and allowed Donaldson to cross for Jon Toral.

He would later be turned by Demarai Gray on the edge of the box when becoming disorientated as to whether he was supposed to be tracking another runner.

Paul McShane and Anton Ferdinand are now preferred, with Clarke using him as a late substitute since to shore games up.

Tell me about his summer...
Hector made his debut for Jamaica in June, playing in the 1-0 Copa America defeat against Uruguay. But it was during the Gold Cup where he truly impressed, operating alongside Wes Morgan and grasping his chance after replacing Jermaine Taylor in the ninth minute of a slender win against El Salvador. From there he kept the spot, playing in the remaining three matches, including the unsuccessful final against favourites Mexico.
Hector helped Jamaica finish second at the Gold Cup this summer

What now?
Hector is heading back on loan to Reading, and it’ll be intriguing to see whether Clarke gives him more game time from now on. Those who know, namely scouts, say his physical frame means there is serious potential there and, at 23, positional and concentration difficulties can be ironed out.