Dielna Brings Versatility to Revolution Backline
Last week the New England Revolution announced the signing of journeyman French defender Claude Dielna. The 29-year-old has been attached to clubs such as Olympiacos in Greece, AC Ajaccio while in Ligue 1 and Sheffield Wednesday in the English Championship, but Dielna has spent most of his recent career out on loan to clubs of lesser stature. Over the past two years, the 6-foot center back has plied his trade for Slovakia’s Slovan Bratislava and most recently Romanian club Dinamo Bukarest.
The Revolution will add Dielna as a Designated Player or using Targeted Allocation Money pending receipt of his International Transfer Certificate and P-1 Visa.
YouTube scouting and varied fan-reports paint the picture of an athletic defender (once given the moniker of “the Gymnast”) who finds his way into the attacking third often and sports a dangerous left peg.
Where does Dielna Fit?
Though most often seen in the center of defense, Dielna played 10 of his 25 matches with Sheffield Wednesday at left back during their 14/15 campaign. He found 3 matches on the left with Ajaccio during a 13/14 campaign as well. He may be a candidate to succeed an aging Chris Tierney and relieve Kelyn Rowe of his defensive duties.
Dielna will also compete with Ligue 1 loanee Benjamin Angoua and rookie Joshua Smith to complete a center back pairing next to Antonio Delamea.
Though not a splashy get for what is a potential DP signing, he does give the Revolution defense a bit of needed reinforcement after letting up over 1.6 goals per game thus far in 2017. Coach Jay Heaps suggested Dielna allows the Revs to give opposing teams a few new looks as well.
“It gives us a lot of options, and that’s what we need; we need options to be able to go three in the back, (play with) a center back with a left foot, or a left back with a little bit more aerial presence. Things like that are going to be important for us to have some options defensively.”
What would a three-man back line look like?
Here is my idea of a 3-5-2 featuring Dielna:
This formation takes advantage of the flexibility, athleticism and attacking prowess of both Dielna and Farrell, centered around the sensible play of Delamea. It allows Kei Kamara, Juan Agudelo and Teal Bunbury continue to fight for time up top, Lee Nguyen to pulls the strings, and Scott Caldwell to pair with a hard-nosed Xavier Kouassi or Gershon Koffie to hold down the center of the park.
Options at Wing Back
Rowe has admirably plugged the Tierney-sized hole in the 16/17 Revolution back line, but as his recent Gold Cup stint reminds us- he belongs further up the pitch. A role as a wing back may play to his attacking strengths and continue to provide the squad decent defensive cover.
Fagundez has been praised (and deservedly so) for the maturation of the defensive side to his game, but his inclusion as a left wing back may be worrisome against a more prolific attack. Tierney might find some joy in this role, but I question if he has the legs to cover an entire flank on his own for 90 minutes.
What to Expect in 2017
These left-sided question marks give me pause over a full-90 but may be more effective as a late tactical switch. Heaps has previously made the move to a three-man back line when in search of a late goal. I suspect this is when we will see the formation deployed most often this season. Though it should be remembered that the club was willing to make a complete tactical shift to the 4-4-2 diamond late last year.
Dielna will only have 11 matches at best to make an impact by the time he’s eligible to join the squad. I’m not sure he’ll find his home on the back line in that short a time, but the Revs will hope the Frenchman provides answers for what’s been a questionable back four (or three).