Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has reportedly placed Jules Kounde and Wesley Fofana at the top of his transfer priority list this summer. The Blues boss is poised to hunt down at least one new defender with Antonio Rudiger on the cusp of agreeing on a move to Real Madrid.
Fans’ fears were confirmed on Sunday when Tuchel admitted that Rudiger will make way this summer. The boss claimed that the club ‘fought hard’ and ‘tried everything’ to keep him at Stamford Bridge, but sanctions imposed on Roman Abramovich effectively backed them into a corner with the summer transfer window fast approaching.
Rudiger now appears to be closing on a free transfer to Real Madrid, with a four-year contract believed to be on the table. If Los Blancos manage to pull the move off, alongside another potential free swoop for Paris Saint-Germain sensation Kylian Mbappe, it would be a double coup for the ages.
While Tuchel admitted that finding replacements would be challenging, he pledged to get straight to work on finding a ‘solution’. The Evening Standard claim that Kounde and Fofana are front and centre of the German’s thinking with regard to bolstering the Blues’ defence.
Kounde is supposedly the top choice, and Chelsea have been down that road several times before. This summer the Sevilla centre-back will only have two years remaining on his contract, however, which could finally see the Spanish side relax their guard and sit down at the negotiating table.
Fofana, meanwhile, is a huge prospect at 21 years old. The fact he signed a new five-year deal just last month could make the move difficult to orchestrate, but Tuchel supposedly has the Frenchman on his ‘radar’ in case Leicester City are willing to play ball.
Both options have similar attributes to Rudiger, in that they are both athletic and comfortable on the ball, even if they are not quite as refined as the 29-year-old. The Blues would therefore sign either, or indeed both of the youngsters in the hope that they can develop under Tuchel’s stewardship.
Chelsea’s defensive exodus does not start and finish with Rudiger, as Andreas Christensen has supposedly agreed to join Barcelona on a free transfer this summer. The prospective exit would leave Tuchel and co without two talented defenders who have been in and around the first team all season.
Recruiting transfer replacements will be seen as important by Chelsea fans, but many also feel that Trevoh Chalobah can step up and take on more responsibility in the duo’s absence. Signs of frustration are also creeping in regarding how many talented defenders the Blues have let go in recent years.
To name two, both Fikayo Tomori and Marc Guehi are flourishing at AC Milan and Crystal Palace respectively which has prompted England boss Gareth Southgate to sit up and take note. The Blues let both youngsters go without including a buy-back clause in either deal. There is still also a strong chance that club captain Cesar Azpilicueta could leave in the summer, with the player said to be ‘convinced’ he won’t be offered a new deal and interest from Barcelona.