There has been a lot of talk surrounding Chelsea’s need to purchase a top class centerback during this summer’s transfer window. Central defender is on the top of many supporters’ wish lists. While that may have been the case in the later days of Frank Lampard’s reign, the Blues’ newfound defensive excellence under Thomas Tuchel calls that into question.
Chelsea is now unbeaten in its last 10, only having conceded goals to Takumi Minamino and by virtue of a laughable own goal, courtesy of Antonio Rudiger. The Blues’ biggest rumored defensive target this offseason—Dayot Upamecano of RB Leipzig—is set to join Bayern Munich in the coming months. There hasn’t been many other talks linking the west Londoners with any other centerhalves, and that may mean they are holding off for the time being. After all, Chelsea doesn’t need to add any additional centerbacks during the summer, it has all it needs either in the first team or out on loan.
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The leaky defense of last season was seemingly plugged by a few summer acquisitions in Ben Chilwell, Thiago Silva and Edouard Mendy. However, by the time Lampard found himself on the chopping block and Tuchel was named manager, the goals were flying in for opponents. Kurt Zouma, Reece James and Chilwell were dropped in favor of a three-man defense, and the stability was restored.
Cesar Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger and Silva have become a force to be reckoned with, especially with the steady hands of Mendy behind them. An untimely injury to Silva saw levels of concern rise as nobody truly knew how the Blues’ back line could hold up without the veteran leader. However, Andreas Christensen has put in some heroic performances in the Brazilian’s absence.
The Dane’s revival and subsequent short rise to stardom have made it possible for Chelsea to look elsewhere this summer. Still just 24, he could still represent the centerback of the future for the Blues. He may be relegated back to a bench role once Silva comes back, but that doesn’t mean he’s insignificant. Christensen’s newfound confidence means Tuchel has a handful of defenders he can rely on to play centerback in his 3-4-3 system. In addition to the starters, he now has Christensen, Zouma and even Emerson—as we saw against Barnsley—present this season. Should the German not like the options he currently has, the loan army is a great place to look for possible replacements.
Ethan Ampadu has been a bright spot at the back of a mediocre Sheffield United defense this season. The youngster has proven his versatility during his time on loan with both the Blades and Leipzig. He may not be getting as many minutes as Chelsea fans would’ve hoped for over the last two seasons, Tuchel will view his natural talent and flexibility as a positive though. Elsewhere, Marc Guehi is making headlines at Swansea and has the Championship side fighting for promotion. He has yet to get a good chance to make the first team, but this summer he’s sure to get his shot. Of course, there is also Fikayo Tomori, who impressively made his way into the AC Milan starting XI almost instantly. The forgotten Englishman under Lampard is showing the Blues what they’re missing and unless the Italians trigger his buy clause, he’ll be back at Cobham in a few months.
If that isn’t enough to get supporters excited, look no further than the first team to begin smiling again. Silva is in talks to extend his contract with the club and it doesn’t look like any of Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Christensen or Zouma will be going anywhere either. The options will be plentiful and the long-term system for stability looks to be set under Tuchel’s tutelage.
There are undoubtedly some attractive options out there on the transfer market, but for right now, the Blues have all they could ever ask for already sporting the badge.