Chelsea’s central defenders
Chelsea have of course completely turned their season around since Thomas Tuchel took the reins from Frank Lampard.
One of the biggest strengths of Tuchel’s Chelsea thus far has been their defensive solidity.
Barring a rather bizarre 5-2 loss at the hands of relegation-battling West Brom, the Londoners have not conceded more than one goal in a game under the German.
So, Chelsea eyeing central defensive additions in the summer window may seem slightly odd to some people.
However, the Blues’ backline could yet see something of a shake-up ahead of next season, for varying reasons.
Firstly, Fikayo Tomori is currently on loan at AC Milan, with it having been reported late last month that the Italians are planning to take up their option to buy on the central defender, meaning his time at Stamford Bridge could already be up.
Elsewhere, Thiago Silva, whilst likely to still be on Chelsea’s books next season, will be 37 in September, and should not be relied upon as a regular starter across a season which will see the Blues competing in four competitions.
Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen will also have just one year left on their current deals come the summer. So, if the club do not want to hand either player a new deal, selling them in the upcoming window is likely the best option to ensure Chelsea recoup some form of fee.
That leaves just Kurt Zouma, who doesn’t really seem too suited to Tuchel’s current system, and Cesar Azpilicueta, who, whilst still doing a decent job, isn’t the most reliable centre-half, and turns 32 in August.
Therefore, it wouldn’t be too surprising to see Tuchel aim to put his stamp further on his squad in the summer, by bringing in at least a few players.
And at 101, we have picked out four such defenders whom we believe would improve Chelsea’s current backline.
With Dayot Upamecano set to join Bayern Munich next season, Jules Kounde is arguably the best remaining option for any top European side targeting a central defender.
Despite being just 22, Kounde is already a key cog in Sevilla’s backline, having notched 81 appearances across all competitions, forming a solid partnership with Diego Carlos along the way.
Kounde played a key role in the Andalusian outfit winning the Europa League last year, and has continued to impress this term, amid a push towards a top-4 finish.
Sevilla are currently 4th in La Liga, with only Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid boasting a better defensive record.
Kounde does have limited experience in a back-three, which could be a slight drawback. But, given his quality and potential, it feels safe to assume that he would have few issues integrating into Thomas Tuchel’s system.
In terms of a potential fee for Kounde, reports last month suggested that he could be snapped up for around £50m, a fee which, in today’s market, is fairly reasonable, given both the Frenchman’s age and ability.
The next player Chelsea could target is Brighton centre-back, Ben White.
White is the least experienced of the players on this list, when it comes to playing at the top level at least.
However, the 23-year-old is also the only player who has actually played in the Premier League.
White is, of course, also English – a big plus for PL sides when it comes to squad registration.
And though the Seagulls are not enjoying the best of campaigns, Graham Potter has his side playing expansive, possession-based football, whilst using a back-three. White, in turn, would likely have little problem settling into Tuchel’s system.
This next option on our list is something of a long shot, but would mark a huge coup for Chelsea if they could get a deal done.
David Alaba has been a key figure at Bayern Munich for many years now. However, his contract in Germany runs out in the summer, and he therefore looks set to depart on a free transfer.
Given the fact that he is capable of lining out in multiple positions, including at centre-back, left-back and in midfield, the club who eventually sign the Austrian will of course be securing a real steal.
One major issue in any Chelsea bid to lure Alaba to Stamford Bridge, though, comes in the form of reports that the stopper already has a verbal agreement in place to join Real Madrid.
The same source – the reliable Fabrizio Romano – has also suggested that Chelsea and other sides are still working to convince the defender to join them, but his priority remains a Bernabeu switch:
David Alaba has reached a verbal agreement with Real Madrid since the beginning of January. His pre-contract until June 2025 is ‘almost ready’ – not signed yet.
Chelsea, Liverpool as other clubs are still trying to convince him… but Alaba’s priority is joining Real Madrid ⚪️ https://t.co/LITUivZexn
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) February 15, 2021
The final defender whom Chelsea could attempt to sign this summer is RB Leipzig’s Ibrahima Konate.
Konate joined Leipzig on a free transfer in the summer of 2017 from French outfit, FC Sochaux-Montbéliard.
And the 21-year-old has since gone on to garner 92 appearances for Die Roten Bullen, including 18 thus far this season.
Konate is fast, powerful and good with the ball at his feet, whilst also boasting experience of playing in a back-three, a big plus from a Chelsea perspective.
Konate’s contract contains a release clause of around €40m, which is set to become active this summer, making him a potential bargain signing.
Granted, it was of course reported last month that Liverpool were closing on a deal for the stopper.
However, talk of an Anfield switch appears to have died down of late. In turn, if the Reds fail to secure Champions League football for next season, whilst Chelsea do, could Konate be more enticed by the proposition of a move to west London?
This article was edited by Conor Laird.
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