Everybody knows Khvicha Kvaratskhelia and his qualities, but Giorgi Chakvetadze could prove just as important for Georgia at Euro 2024.

When Nika Kvekveskiri slotted the ball into the back of the net from the penalty spot in Tbilisi on 26 March, it secured Georgia’s place at Euro 2024 – their first ever international tournament since gaining independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

With their qualification, it also ensured that one of the most exciting talents in world football would be able to play in a major international tournament: Khvicha Kvaratskhelia.

Since joining Napoli on the eve of the 2022-23 season, the Georgian has become one of the most feared wingers in European football.

One of just 21 players to have created 100+ chances from open play in the top five European leagues across the last two seasons, Kvaratskhelia is known for his ability to terrorise opposition defences when carrying the ball with his feet. Only Jérémy Doku has beaten more opponents with a take-on than him since 2022-23, while he leads every other player for shot involvements following a ball carry in those two seasons (133).

While Kvaratskhelia comes into Euro 2024 with little doubt about how key he is to Georgia’s chances of getting out of the group stage, a teammate with similar qualities is lesser known: Giorgi Chakvetadze.

While hyperbolic to suggest his career could have reached the heights of what has been achieved by Kvaratskhelia in recent seasons, Georgia’s poster boy is only 18 months younger than Chakvetadze.

After starting his career at Dinamo Tbilisi as a teenager, Chakvetadze earned a move to Belgian top-flight club Gent as a 18-year-old and impressed enough to be listed among UEFA’s 50 players to watch for 2019 and the Georgian Player of the Year in 2018.

Chakvetadze Youngster

Unfortunately for Chakvetadze, a serious knee injury he suffered in early 2019 curtailed his development before a recurrence of the same injury a year later saw him spend nearly 12 months out – absences not aided by the Covid-19 pandemic. Kvaratskhelia overtook him as the attacking talent that Georgia pinned their hopes on following strong showings for Russian club Rubin Kazan, which eventually earned him his move to Napoli.

Now enjoying a long period free of serious injury, Chakvetadze is rebuilding his career and flourishing once again.

Across Georgia’s Euro 2024 qualifiers, including their two play-off matches, no players offered more of a creative threat than the attacking pair, with Kvaratskhelia (1.23) and Chakvetadze (1.15) topping Georgia’s rankings for expected assists (xA).

Chakvetadze’s xA per 90 rate of 0.18 was only bettered by four players in Group A: Norway’s Martin Ødegaard and Fredrik Aursnes (both 0.28) and Spain’s Rodri (0.22) and Dani Carvajal (0.25). He was also one of just three players to assist as many as three goals in Group A, alongside Antonio Nusa for Norway and Spanish star Nico Williams. All three of those assists were for Kvaratskhelia.

Chakvetadze comes into Euro 2024 following a good first season in England at Championship side Watford. After originally signing on loan from Gent in last summer, he made the move permanent in January for a reported fee of €2.5 million.

When Georgian legend Shota Arveladze visited Chakvetadze in the first month of his time in England, he assured the 24-year-old that “they will fall in love with you here, so much”.

Fast-forward nine months and Arveladze was proved right. Chakvetadze has become one of the most popular players among fans at Vicarage Road due to his propensity to run at opponents with the ball and willingness to carry the ball up field with intent.

After a promising debut in the opening-day 4-0 win over QPR, in which he entered the game as a substitute and delighted fans with an array of skills and turns, his Watford career seemed in danger of petering out before the midway point of the season.

Clearly struggling for fitness after arriving at the club just three days before that season opener, he struggled to find a consistent spot in Valérien Ismaël’s system and was frequently used as a late impact sub.

Shortly after his debut in August, when asked about the pace of the game in the English second tier by Georgian football reporters Geo Team, Chakvetadze revealed: “How could I say, you know, how many championships I have played in and there has never been such a pace anywhere. It’s a different environment and a different level.”

He wasn’t wrong.

Before Christmas, the attacking midfielder had made just two starts and played just 474 minutes of league football for Watford, appearing 17 times across their first 23 games of 2023-24 – given an average of just 28 minutes per appearance.

A poor 4-1 home defeat to Bristol City on Boxing Day didn’t give Hornets fans much to cheer about, but Chakvetadze’s half-time introduction led to him scoring his first goal for the club and he was arguably the only bright spark on a miserable day.

Chakvetadze Watford Goal

That changed things for Chakvetadze at Watford. Including that game against Bristol City, he would play a part in 17 of their next 20 Championship games, before missing out on their final three matches of the campaign with injury.

His impact in the team after Christmas was one of the main reasons Watford avoided an embarrassing relegation – one that the club was nervous enough about becoming a reality to sack Ismaël on 10 March, with nine league games remaining.

Across the entire season, on a per-90 basis, only Finn Azaz (4.0) – who spent half the season at Plymouth on loan from Aston Villa before moving permanently to Middlesbrough – averaged more open-play chances or secondary chances per game than Chakvetadze (3.9) of players to play at least 1,500 minutes.

Most Creative Championship Players in 2023-24

From Boxing Day onwards, the Georgian was the second most creative player at the club in league competition (37 chances created, 2.6 expected assists), behind only talented Colombian youngster Yáser Asprilla (45 and 4.0).

Chakvetadze’s threat via ball carries was clear, with no attacking player on the team progressing the ball upfield further than him (1,386m) while creating a third (12) of his chances following a ball carry.

In 2023-24, Chakvetadze ranked eighth across all attacking players in the Championship (minimum of 1,500 minutes played) for progressive carry distance per 90. His 113.4m average was 26m more than the next most progressive carrier in Watford’s attack, Matheus Martins (87.4m).

Chakvetadze dribbling

Georgia have to wait until 18 June to make their European Championship debut against Turkey, with every other team barring fellow Group F sides Portugal and Czech Republic playing before them.

Both tournament debutants Finland and North Macedonia failed to make it out of the group stage at Euro 2020, but arguably neither had as much talent as this Georgian team.

Wales shocked everyone at the 2016 edition of the tournament, reaching the semi-finals in their European Championship debut, helped by the qualities of Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey.

Who knows, maybe Chakvetadze and Kvaratskhelia could provide the ammo to power Georgia deep into this tournament.

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