Chelsea is looking for a strong defender Between de Ligt and Skrignard
Chelsea are trying to build a new team and are actively closing the holes that are forming in the system. The attack received a reinforcement in Raheem Sterling, which can be considered one of the brightest deals of the current transfer summer. However, even before the transfer window began, the Blues had another main objective for the preseason – to sign a very strong central defender. A very strong one.
Because overnight Chelsea are losing two important defensive players at once – Antonio Rüdiger and Andreas Christensen. The German alone played in 34 Premier League games last season from the opening minutes. If we don’t find a replacement right now, and a player who is ready to play in the main squad right away and solve serious problems, no amount of signing Sterling will make up for all the possible losses due to lapses in defense. Let’s analyze the rumors swirling around Chelsea and the team’s potential new defenders to see who the Blues should sign, and whose signing they are closest to.
Matteis de Ligt
The Dutchman has played regularly for Juventus since moving from Ajax in 2019. In three seasons in Turin, he has played 117 games. Last season he played 2,675 minutes, appearing in the starting lineup in 29 Serie A matches, scoring three goals and providing one goal. He is one of Chelsea’s best options in terms of playing on the second floor. Last season, he won an average of four uppercuts per game. He also averaged 1.1 tackles per game, 0.7 blocked shots, 0.8 steals and 3.1 takeaways. He threw an average of 54.5 passes per game with 89 percent accuracy.
His disciplinary record is also unquestionable: he has earned two yellow cards. And as for injuries, he’s only missed 26 games due to health issues in the last five years. The 22-year-old’s age also speaks in his favor – it could be an investment for Chelsea for years to come.
It is rumored that de Ligt himself is not against a move to Chelsea, but Juventus want to squeeze the maximum out of a possible deal, that is to get about 65 million pounds. Chelsea fail to bring down that price. In addition, there is a rival in the face of Bayern, which has begun contacts with de Ligt.
Chelsea have been eyeing Kunde for quite some time without deciding to make any serious moves. But the Frenchman kept growing in value, raising it with his play. Since moving to Sevilla in 2019, Kunde has played 95 games in the Spanish league, 32 of which came last season. That’s 2,738 playing minutes. Kunde is inferior to de Ligt in head-to-head play, averaging only 2.4 aerial combats per La Liga game successfully. At the same time he makes 1.3 rebounds per game, 0.7 interceptions, 0.6 blocked shots, and the rate of takeaways is the same – 3.1. Kunde is averaging 65.6 assists per game with 89 percent accuracy.
But you have to keep in mind that unlike de Ligt, Juul plays not only strictly in the center of defense, but also on the right wing at times. This affects his playing style and statistics. Kunde scored twice and had two assists last season. Kunde’s age rating is also good – he’s only 23 years old. His discipline is poorer – the Frenchman picked up two red cards last season.
Kunde was Chelsea’s priority last year and the focus of the Londoners have shifted somewhat this summer. The player is ready for a change, but Sevilla have not yet received any real offers for him, according to Marca. The Frenchman is valued at £55m. Barcelona are also eyeing him, but they have their own monetary restrictions. Possibly, Kunde will be an emergency backup for Chelsea.
One could try to reunite Sterling and Ake at a new club. Especially since Nathan only played 921 minutes on the pitch for City in 14 games last season in the Premier League. That means that Ake’s stats also carry a little less weight than the other players on this list. But it can be noted that he wins 2.6 air tackles per game on average, makes 1.1 rebounds, 0.6 interceptions, 0.4 blocked shots and 1.5 takeaways. He completes 61 passes per game with 91 percent accuracy.
The former Chelsea player managed to score twice in his few games last season and received no cards in the APL. And the age of 27 is the most optimal age for a defender to blossom. The only thing that might be disconcerting is the injury history of Ake, who missed 27 games in all competitions in the 2020/21 season and has spent 188 days out of action since August 2017.
Chelsea’s desire to bring Ake back became known late last month. The Dutchman is a pupil of the Blues, whom he joined when he was 16 and moved to Bournemouth five years ago. “City are valuing Ake at £50 million, but are not burning with the desire to sell Nathan, who is handy as a backup player. “The Citizens will need to find a replacement for him before selling him.
Perhaps no central defender has been the subject of more transfer rumors in recent years than Koulibaly. He is inevitably lured away almost every summer, and the deals seemingly close to completion. But every time Koulibaly remains at Napoli, where he has spent almost ten years. Let’s not deviate from tradition: Chelsea are interested in Kalidu.
Last season Koulibaly played 2406 minutes in 27 Serie A games. Interestingly, for all his outward impressiveness, he won only 1.8 aerial battles per match on average. But he had 1.4 rebounds, 1.1 steals, 3.1 clears and 0.9 blocked shots. He scored three goals and had three assists last season. He averages 60.8 passes per game with 87 percent accuracy.
His disciplinary record is not a big issue, with five yellow cards and one red card. But the 31-year-old may have a problem with injuries in the future. He has missed 31 games in the last two and a half years because of health problems.
The Italian media reports that Chelsea had preliminary talks with Koulibaly. Calidou’s contract with Napoli expires in 2023, which could be an incentive for this kind of negotiation. De Ligt and Ake are currently higher on Tuchel’s list of preferences, but Chelsea could theoretically get Coulibaly at a reduced price.
The 27-year-old defender has played consistently for Inter since transferring in 2017. He has played at least 32 games in the league in each of his five seasons at the club. In the past, for example, he has 35 matches in the starting lineup – Schkrinjar spent 3,150 minutes on the field, meaning he is an unqualified base player for the Milanese.
He averaged 1.3 rebounds and 0.7 steals per game, won 1.5 air duels, blocked 0.7 shots and had 2.5 clearances. But what is particularly striking in the number of games is his pass accuracy, which is 93 percent. At the same time, he averaged 60 passes per game. He received only three yellow cards last season and scored three goals. In addition, the iron Slovak has not missed a match in the last six years due to injury.
Shkrinjar is often cited by Chelsea, but the Londoners have not made offers. That said, there have been preliminary contacts with Inter. Although AC Milan have made it clear they do not intend to let the defender leave. The good established relationship between the clubs, as well as Chelsea’s willingness to pay £64 million for Shkrinjar could help. But PSG are wandering around and have already started making offers. The sum of £52 million from the Parisians has so far been rejected by Inter.