The three center-backs on Chelsea’s summer transfer shortlist
According to a report by The athlete, Chelsea will be looking for a center-back this summer with three specific names being shortlisted.
In order to create space in the squad and to recoup funds, the 26-year-old Kurt Zouma could be sold. while Fikayo Tomori’s future is uncertainwith parent club AC Milan increasingly exercising a £ 25 million permanent clause this summer.
Since the appointment of Thomas Tuchel on January 26th, who used a defensive three-man chain, Antonio Rüdiger and Andreas Christensen have both returned to the first team and are enjoying an extended season. Rüdiger played in 10 of Tuchel’s first 11 league games and played the full 90 of all 10 as well as in the first leg of the Champions League first leg against Atletico Madrid.
Over this period, Rüdiger has on average a SofaScore Rating of 7.2, particularly impressive in recent clashes against Man Utd and Liverpool. In the 0-0 with United, Rüdiger completed 86% of his passes, won 80% of his ground duels, 100% of his air duels and completed four accurate long balls.
Christensen is also experiencing a new life under Tuchel, who was used to being in the back three, where he flourished on loan from Borussia Mönchengladbach in 2016/2017 and under Antonio Conte at Chelsea the following season.
Having only played five of Lampard’s 18 league games this season, he was in six of Tuchel’s first nine league games and conceded only one goal. Christensen was brilliant against United too – he did 100% of his passes and won 100% of his floor duels and earned a SofaScore Rating of 8.2, its best this season. This form has led to speculation at Chelsea will offer the Dane a new contract before the euro this summer.
With Rüdiger and Christensen both enjoying football and gaining Tuchel’s confidence in defense and Cesar Azpilicueta and Thiago Silva bringing much-needed experience in a relatively young squad, Kurt Zouma could allegedly be sold this summer.
After missing just four league games under Lampard, the Frenchman fell out of favor under Tuchel and only played in 180 of 810 possible league minutes. Zouma probably lacks the ball game technique that Tuchel values in a three-man chain, and with his current contract, which expires in 2023, he represents a profitable asset for the club.
As Zouma may be on the way out and the future of loaners Fikayo Tomori, Marc Guehi and Malang Sarr is uncertain, the club shortlisted three central defenders before the summer window:
Ibrahima Konate has only played in nine of the 24 opening games of the RB Leipzig Bundesliga and missed 10 games with various injuries. Konate has worked with Tuchel’s assistant Zsolt Löw in Leipzig in the past, and the Blues want to revive this relationship.
After moving to Leipzig in 2017, Konate played 22 games in his debut season in Germany at the age of only 17, including a solid partnership with Bayern-bound Dayot Upamecano in the Europa League, averaging a SofaScore Rating of 7.06.
At 6’4 tall, Konate combines air and physical strength with a ball game technique that is ripe for such a young player. In the 18/19 season he gained 38.9% of his pressure, in the top 12% of the Bundesliga, won 2.81 aerials per 90, in the top 9% and completed 1.52 interceptions per 90, in the top 18% .
These stats illustrate a strong physical presence, which Konate complements with impressive passing range and ball ability. For the 18/19 season, his 0.11 steeps per 90 were among the top 10% of the league while his 0.67 dribbles per 90 were among the top 12%. RB Leipzig conceded the fewest goals in the league (29, three fewer than Bayern) and qualified for the Champions League for the first time in its history.
Konate has struggled with injuries since this excellent season – he missed a large part of last season with a hamstring but is still very young and has mastered Tuchel’s preferred system, often playing in the middle of a back three. Former coach Ralf Ragnick said: “He’s so good he could one day play for Real Madrid or Barcelona”.
Value of € 35 million from TransferMarktChelsea could materialize his interest in Konate in the coming window after he poached Timo Werner from the German side last summer.
Another defensive target that Chelsea are reportedly monitoring is 25-year-old German Niklas Sule, currently at Bayern Munich. With Dayot Upamecano arriving in Munich this summer, the German champions could potentially switch to Sule, although this situation also depends on David Alaba’s future.
Since Sule came to Bayern from his German compatriot Hoffenheim in 2017, Sule has on average a SofaScore of 7.13 and has won three Bundesliga titles, two DFB Cup cups and the Champions League. But similar to Konate, Sule had to struggle with injuries last season and missed the last 25 Bundesliga games with a cruciate ligament rupture.
In the 2018/19 season, Sule only missed three league games as Bayern narrowly won the league against rivals Dortmund. Sule recorded an average SofaScore of 7.15 and completed an average of 93% of his passes, 96% of them in his own half, in the top 2% of the league. This confidence and ability on the ball are obviously a trait that Tuchel values, while Sule only dribbled past 0.24 times per 90s, in the top 5%.
At 6’5, Sule is a strong physical presence – his 78.8% of the aerials won in the 18/19 season were among the top 6% of Bundesliga players. Sul’s nationality could work in his favor for a change to the blues in the summer, so that he can connect with his compatriots Timo Werner, Kai Havertz and Antonio Rüdiger and be looked after by a German coaching team.
Sule was praised by Virgil van Dijk after the two faced each other in the Champions League round of 16 in 2019.
“(He’s) a great defender. He’s not playing for Bayern without a reason. I’ve had some nice duels with him.”
Valued at € 37m, Sule’s situation depends on the future of Bayern and Chelsea, despite being a solid and achievable defensive goal ahead of the summer window.
Jose Maria Gimenez
Jose Maria Gimenez from Atletico Madrid is the oldest of the three destinations mentioned The athlete, 26 years old, and offers the perfect balance between experience and room for further growth. Gimenez has been linked with Chelsea in the past and is considered a long-term goal for the club.
In his eighth season with Atleti, Gimenez was named the club’s third captain, playing 141 league games and playing 60 times for Uruguay, including two World Cups.
After Diego Godin’s departure to Inter Milan in 2019, Gimenez rose to senior defensive leader for Atletico SofaScore Rating 7 or higher in four of the last six seasons. Last season, Gimenez showed the roundness of his game by excelling in various statistics departments. He completed 1.1 interceptions per 90 (0.3 more than Rüdiger), 3.4 clearances per 90 (0.6 more than Rüdiger) and won 71% of his total duels (13% more than Rüdiger). Gimenez was also dribbled past 0.2 times per 90s, compared to 0.5 for Rüdiger.
This season, Gimenez has struggled with injury issues, including hamstring and muscle problems, although he has been regular for Atleti when he was fit. Despite missing 15 games in all competitions, his 0.68 dribblers per 90 are in the top 11% of La Liga players, while Atletico have conceded just 9 in 13 league games that Gimenez has appeared in.
After beating Las Palmas 5-0 in 2017, Diego Simeone said: “I never tire of praising Gimenez. Perhaps the greatest proof of the defenders’ all-round game came in the 2017-18 Europa League semi-final second leg against Arsenal Despite missing several key players, having 24% possession and having ten men for 80 minutes, Atletico made it to the final where Gimenez won his first European Cup with the club.
Only time will tell which goal Chelsea formalizes a move for this summer, with any transfer also depending on the future of Zouma, Tomori and other loanees like Malang Sarr and Marc Guehi.
However, Chelsea will certainly be in the market this summer to inject money again and bring the club to a level where they can compete with Manchester City for the Premier League.