If there’s no contract extension before summer then Antonio Rudiger might be leaving Stamford Bridge as the German’s contract expires at the end of this season.
And while there are reports of ‘positive’ talks being held between the club and the defender, he is not close to extending his deal yet.
Rudiger has been one of Chelsea’s best players so in case he does leave, the Blues will have their task cut out to find a replacement.
Here’s a shortlist of four centre-backs who can realistically be signed by Chelsea next summer and who would help deal with the potential absence of Rudiger.
Let’s take a look at these targets:
Kounde is the most obvious name on this list. The Sevilla defender has been linked with the Blues for quite some time and was close to joining the Blues last season until Sevilla pulled the plug on the deal.
Why it would make sense: Kounde is only 23 years old and his strengths are his passing, positioning and winning aerial duels. The centre-back is very talented and reportedly wanted a move to Chelsea last summer, which proves that he wants to represent the club.
Kounde’s best years are still ahead of him and while he is not the tallest defender, he will fit very well in Tuchel’s system given his passing and intelligence.
Previous rumours: Thomas Tuchel said ‘it was clear we tried for Kounde’ back in September. The Blues wanted the centre-back and as per Nizaar Kinsella, he is still their main priority for the next summer.
Why it would make sense: Sule has been one of Bayern’s best defenders since he first broke into the first team. Aged just 26, his peak years are coming and he is already one of the best in the world at his position.
As per WhoScored, Sule is an excellent passer and can hold the ball very well. He can also dribble the ball well and is a decent tackler – his weakness column is empty!
Sule averages 0.5 dribbles per game in Bundesliga (impressive for a defender) alongside 1.6 clearances and 1 tackle. And the best part? He’s a free agent in the summer, so Chelsea won’t have to pay any transfer fee.
Previous rumours: Sule has been linked with Chelsea last summer. As per more recent reports from the reliable Fabrizio Romano, the Blues are targeting him alongside Kounde for a summer move.
Matthias De Ligt
Why it would make sense: When he moved to Juventus back in 2019, De Ligt was considered the most talented defender in the world. While he has not made a major impact at Juventus, he is still only 22 and is a natural leader at the back – a perfect replacement for Rudiger.
De Ligt is strong, fast and a very good passer of the ball, completing 90% of his passes while averaging 60 passes per game. He can be Chelsea’s defensive leader for the next decade if he fulfils his potential and he also has a lot of Champions League experience.
Previous rumours: De Ligt’s agent Mino Raiola has publicly said he wants his client to leave Juventus in summer 2022. However, the ‘main obstacle’ in a potential transfer is his salary so that would have to be sorted before a transfer can be agreed upon.
Why it would make sense: Okay, this is a cheeky idea! While Gomez is admittedly not as highly-rated as the other three names here and plays for Liverpool, a transfer to Chelsea is not the wildest thought.
He is just 24 years but has already 81 Premier League games – his experience in the English top-flight sets him apart from the rest of the bunch. He was excellent in Liverpool’s title-winning season in 2019/20. Gomez is fast, physical and an excellent passer too. He will surely fit in Tuchel’s system due to his traits.
Previous rumours: Gomez has not been linked with Chelsea but it is rumoured that he wants to leave Liverpool as he is now the fourth-choice centre-back there. His contract expires in 2024 and a cheeky bid to Liverpool this summer is not a bad idea at all.