Thursday, June 1, 2023

Where Will Chelsea’s Search For A Center-Back End This Summer?

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Aakarsh Bommakanti
Was diving around lush green grass not so long ago but my keyboard is all I have now. An avid observer of detail in sports with a passion to make myself heard. Can find me playing on a field if not in front of my screen.

After the Guus Hiddink stint, Antonio Conte was lured away from the Italian national team to dump the London club which saw a drastic fall that saw them finish 10th just an year after lifting the Premier League title. However, the breath of fresh air that the Italian manager will get to the already talented squad at Chelsea will see them compete at the top of the table once again but before that the new manager will have to make some changes to the squad which has not been easy to do this summer.

Many clubs not just in England are looking for top-quality stars to add their squad ahead of the next season and this has seen a scarcity of players in certain positions. The new manager at the Bridge likes to play with a three-man defense at the back but the squad has just the one player in Gary Cahill who can start close to every game next season (though some believe even he should be dropped).

John Terry, who extended his stay at the club will surely be given a role but he will not be the first choice centre back for most part of the season. The likes of Kurt Zouma (who is currently injured and will not be available for at least a couple of months into the season) and Branislav Ivanovic (who was more than decent as a centre-back under Guus Hiddink) are also not the options a manager like Conte would prefer, leaving the Italian in search of at least one quality centre-back this summer.

There have been a range of names linked to the club in recent times. From Real Madrid’s Rafael Varane to Everton’s John Stones, the club has been linked to many players who have the quality to play at a club of Chelsea stature. But where will this search end? Is a player out there in the market that is ready to take the responsibilities of the Chelsea defense next season?

Let’s take a look at the top 3 possibilities in John Stones, Leonardo Bonucci from Juventus and Kalidou Koulibaly from Napoli. All the three players will cost the club close to £50million and it is a matter of who will best suit the club next season. The obvious choice looks to be the Italian defender who has established himself as one of the best defenders in recent times. He has been superb at the back for Juventus in a similar system under Allegri and will also help Conte settle into the Premier League with some Italian support. He is also a player who seems a good fit in the Premier League and though the Manchester clubs are also interested in his signature, Chelsea will want to get their man before it is too late.

Stones is also a good option because of his experience in the Premier League but he still has a lot to learn and might not be able to handle the pressure of a Chelsea defense in the next season at his tender age. Koulibaly seemed to be the first option for the manager but the Napoli defender, though is a decent buy, and may not be worth the price that is quoted. The Turin man should be the top priority for the Blues this summer and if they can meet his valuation and get his hands on him, it can even help them get better of their opponents who are also looking to sign him. Do you think Bonucci is the right man for Chelsea next season?

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