Chelsea occupied a curious position in the Premier League table last season. They found themselves adrift of Manchester City and Liverpool’s title race, but they were also largely clear of Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur in the race for fourth. Thomas Tuchel’s side will be aware that they have work to do in the summer.
They’ll be looking to strengthen in attack, with Romelu Lukaku’s return to West London considered a bust, while the likes of Timo Werner, Christian Pulisic and Callum Hudson-Odoi have all looked competent squad players, but none seem to have Tuchel’s full confidence beyond that. Ideally, Tuchel would also be able to strengthen his midfield too.
However, it’s at the back where Chelsea will have work to do. Antonio Rüdiger was a regular in the centre of defence, with no player starting more league games for Chelsea than the German centre back. Thiago Silva was also a regular and, with Tuchel often lining his side up with three in defence, César Azpilicueta and Andreas Christensen often featured as part of the defensive trio.
Although Chelsea will be looking to place high in the Premier League betting odds, they have a lot of business to do in defence if they’re to accomplish that. Rüdiger’s contract was allowed to expire, and the German has already been unveiled by Real Madrid. Andreas Christensen’s contract was not renewed, and the Danish international, a free agent this summer, is expected to turn out for Barcelona this season.
In addition to those two departures, Thiago Silva is now 37 and, although he has managed to mostly resist the ageing process up until this point, it would be sensible for Chelsea to bear his mind in age as they consider their priorities this summer. Even César Azpilicueta, although a dependable defender for the Blues, is a wide centre back in a three, rather than an out and out central defender, and at 32 years old, his age should be taken into consideration too.
All that being said, Chelsea are not completely without options. Trevoh Chalobah featured semi-regularly under Tuchel last season, and he seems a likely candidate for more opportunities in the future. Although, having played half as many minutes as Rüdiger did in the last league campaign, he’s unlikely to be ready for the kind of increase in responsibility that would offset Chelsea’s defensive departures to any serious degree.
Reece James has also been used in the central defensive unit at times, but that has only ever been a tactical choice for individual games, and is unlikely to be something Thomas Tuchel tries on a more regular basis. Malang Sarr is also an option, but the young defender has never looked like anything other than a backup player under Tuchel.
That being considered, it seems inevitable that Chelsea will need to splash the cash at the back, and Tuchel will have to build a new defence. The departure of Rüdiger will hit particularly hard, while Christensen’s release won’t help. Although Silva and Azpilicueta can make up two players in the back three for the time being, they’ll need to bring in a strong defender to make up the third member of the trio. While Chalobah will continue to fill in when needed, Chelsea will likely need to bring in an additional defender as they look to phase Silva, and then Azpilicueta, out of the team. While they’re sure to spend big at the top end of the pitch, the Blues have work to do in defence if they’re to challenge for the title this season.
Barry Lachey is a Professional Editor at Zobuz. Previously He has also worked for Moxly Sports and Network Resources “Joe Joe.” he is a graduate of the Kings College at the University of Thames Valley London. You can reach Barry via email or by phone.