As the top four race heats up heading into the closing stages of the Premier League season, Chelsea’s defensive woes are threatening their chances of a place in the Champions League next season.
Currently sitting in fourth place the Blues have shown early signs that they are not afraid to splash the cash in the transfer market.
The west-Londoners have already completed the signings of star Ajax midfielder, Hakim Ziyech, and in-demand German striker Timo Werner from RB Leipzig.
It has also been reported that they are setting their sights on exciting 20-year-old wonderkind, Kai Havertz from Bayer Leverkusen. However, there is still a gaping hole in Chelsea’s squad that has not been addressed yet – their defence.
Following their 3-2 defeat against relegation threatened West Ham, Chelsea’s defending struggles have once again been showcased.
The Blues’ failure to defend corners led to the Hammers scoring their first goal in four matches. The corner was conceded due to a critical defensive error by centre-back Antonio Rüdiger as he failed to successfully clear the ball away from danger.
On top of this, the winning goal scored by their London rivals was due to Chelsea being caught on the counter-attack. Left-back Marcos Alonso failed to backtrack with West Ham substitute Andriy Yarmolenko as the winger found himself one-on-one with Rüdiger and easily went past the German, slotting the ball into the bottom-left corner past the grasp of Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Although the blues bounced back to beat Watford 3-0 the next match, there are still major issues facing Frank Lampard and the board on Chelsea’s defensive capabilities.
As transfer activities are ramping up, these are some players the London club need to target this transfer window to revamp their defence.
Ben Chilwell (Leicester City)
Arguably one of the best left-backs in the Premier League, Ben Chilwell has been on Chelsea’s radar for some time now. With the left-back position being a bit of a problem for the club, both Marcos Alonso and Emerson Palmieri have struggled to impress Frank Lampard.
With Alonso showing glimpses of his attacking capabilities throughout the season, he is more suited to a left-wing-back role as the Spaniard is weak in defence. In contrast, Chilwell has shown to be stronger at the back and has scored three goals and three assists in 27 league matches including that stunning strike against Watford.
However, the 23-year-old English defender is valued at around 65 million euros (105 million AUD) which may prove too costly for Chelsea.
Alex Telles (Porto)
As a much cheaper option than Chilwell, Alex Telles has succeeded in his last few seasons at FC Porto. Posing a strong threat going up forward, Telles has scored ten goals and five assists in the Portuguese first division.
However, like Marcos Alonso, he is not as strong in defence which shows that Ben Chilwell seems to be Chelsea best option as he is more and has proven himself in the Premier League. To buy the Brazilian international, the West Londoners may activate his 38 million-euro (62 million AUD) release clause.
My Pick – Ben Chilwell
Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli)
Since John Terry’s departure, Chelsea have lacked consistency with their centre backs. Sudden lapses of concentration from the likes of Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rüdiger and the inexperience of Fikayo Tomori should make targeting a centre back their priority.
Kalidou Koulibaly has been linked with Chelsea over the past few years. The Serie A’s best defender last season has been deemed as ‘world-class’ as he is good with his feet and is strong in the air.
He is also able to spot gaps in the opposition and can build attacks from the defence. However, the Senegalese defender is valued at 100 million euros (161 million AUD) and is in high demand as Chelsea faces strong competition from both Liverpool and Manchester City.
Dayot Upamecano (RB Leipzig)
Because of the daunting competition and high price tag Chelsea faces in signing Koulibaly, they could turn their attention to RB Leipzig’s centre-back Dayot Upamecano.
Just 21 years of age, eight years younger than Koulibaly, he will slot into the Chelsea outfit perfectly as Lampard has been focusing on youth.
Having already signed Timo Werner for RB Leipzig, it shows that the two clubs can work together again to seal a deal for Upamecano.
Chelsea faces competition from rivals Arsenal for the 60 million-euro (97 million AUD) Frenchman. He has shown great physicality in the Bundesliga and boasts a short-pass accuracy of 92per cent and 66per cent of his 199 long passes have been successful in the 2019-20 campaign.
His pace and positioning has also allowed him to intercept the ball regularly and form attacks. Therefore, signing Upamecano would be a wiser investment.
My pick – Dayot Upamecano
My Chelsea Starting XI 2020/2021
Formation- 4-3-3 (Attack)
GK- Kepa Arrizabalaga
LB- Ben Chilwell
CB- Dayot Upamecano
CB- Antonio Rüdiger / Andreas Christensen
RB- César Azpilicueta/ Reece James
CM- N’Golo Kante
CM- Mateo Kovacic/ Ross Barkley
CAM- Hakim Ziyech
LW- Timo Werner
ST- Tammy Abraham
RW- Christian Pulisic/ Willian