Who’s in, who’s out? Chelsea’s defense for the 2020/21 season

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 24: Ethan Ampadu of Chelsea during the Carabao Cup Semi-Final Second Leg match between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge on January 24, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 24: Ethan Ampadu of Chelsea during the Carabao Cup Semi-Final Second Leg match between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge on January 24, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images) /

Chelsea has brought in a plethora of defensive players this season, but with few going out, what can we expect the Blues’ back line to look like next year?

One quick glance at Chelsea’s first team will reveal the team page is more crowded than usual. The Blues have brought in a trio of defensive players throughout the last few months (Malang Sarr, Ben Chilwell and Thiago Silva), but only a few individuals have departed. In addition, a host of players returned from loans to deepen the unit. Therefore, it’s safe to say Chelsea’s got to dispose of a few individuals before the season begins in a little over a week.

The Blues have had a difficult time finding buyers for some of their outbound defenders, but that doesn’t mean they will all stick around. Chelsea’s got to thin the herd, but what will the back line look like when the board trims the fat? Here is a look at what the defense (and keeper position) will look like when the transfer window slams shut in early October:


At this point, expecting Kepa Arrizabalaga to leave is beyond hopeful. The Spaniard made a mess of things last season, but it’s hard not to see a talented keeper in there somewhere. Recouping Arrizabalaga’s record transfer fee from a few seasons ago—especially in this market—is near impossible. Therefore, due to that and the fact he’s had one good and one bad season, it’s likely Arrizabalaga sticks around.

Willy Caballero is sticking around after signing another extension, but behind him, it’s anybody’s guess. The Blues loaned out Jamie Cumming already. So, for yet another season, Chelsea will have at least one different face amongst the goalkeeping ranks. Edouard Mendy may be the newest addition to the group as his name has been mentioned most recently. Things are still a bit foggy, but to the fans’ dismay, Arrizabalaga looks to be the man who will start between the sticks in the season opener.

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First and foremost, the new signings will obviously stick around—barring Sarr, who will be loaned out. Chilwell and Silva will likely both start for a majority of the season and who plays alongside them is a crapshoot. Kurt Zouma sticks around—and earns a starting spot—if the Blues stay true to their senses. There have been some troubling rumors that the club has considered selling the Frenchman, which would be ignorant considering he’s the most talented of the bunch.

The right back spot looks like it’ll be a healthy competition between the skipper, Cesar Azpilicueta, and the prodigy, Reece James. Both were phenomenal last season, but James showed a few weaknesses in big matches. Azpilicueta can focus solely on competing for the spot this season, so expect the captain to play a lot of minutes.

That leaves a few backup spots to be fought for. It’s likely that Antonio Rudiger sticks around for two reasons—his recruiting skills and experience. Chelsea occasionally gets a sound showing out of the centerback, as well. Lampard carried four center halves last season, so that number is unlikely to change. This means either Fikayo Tomori gets sent out on loan or Andreas Christensen gets sold.

Although Ethan Ampadu wanted to stay and fight for a place, a temporary move elsewhere will earn him the most minutes. The only way in which both Tomori and Christensen depart is if the Blues purchase Declan Rice from West Ham; a move still very much on the table.

Marcos Alonso sticks around for his tactical flexibility and experience whereas Emerson is likely to be shipped off given his financial value. The Brazilian born Italian international has gotten a lot of interest from Serie A clubs. Alongside him, wing-backs Victor Moses and Davide Zappacosta are likely to stay in Italy, as well. Another loan is also on the books for Jake Clarke-Salter; it’s all but guaranteed Baba Rahman won’t stick around either.

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The Chelsea defense looks to be more solid in the upcoming season, but there is still a lot left to be desired. A world class centerback may be on his way next year as Thiago Silva is seen as a stopgap for someone who plays a much larger role in Lampard’s plans. Unfortunately, the identity of that individual has yet to be revealed.