Chelsea needs to maintain some defensive consistency

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 11: Cesar Azpilicueta of Chelsea applauds the fans during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Leeds United at Stamford Bridge on December 11, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 11: Cesar Azpilicueta of Chelsea applauds the fans during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Leeds United at Stamford Bridge on December 11, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images) /

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Chelsea needs to take that cliche and apply it to its negotiations with out-of-contract centerbacks in the coming weeks. The Blues are in the middle of a decisive period in their history right now as they attempt to navigate a plethora of contract talks with some of their star players. The season began with only two centerbacks (Trevoh Chalobah and Malang Sarr) signed up to play at Stamford Bridge beyond this season. While that is technically still the case, the picture has gotten a bit clearer during recent weeks.

Thiago Silva seems all set to stay following positive discussions with both Thomas Tuchel and the club. The Brazilian is an integral part to the team’s success as he’s a leader both on and off the pitch for the Blues’ budding stars. Meanwhile, Cesar Azpilicueta, Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger have all publicly expressed their desire to stay in SW6 but have noted there are some differences between what each side wants in terms of a deal. The reality is that Chelsea simply cannot allow three of its centerbacks to walk away as top tier football clubs need consistency, especially at the back, in order to succeed long-term.

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Chelsea must not let three out-of-contract centerbacks walk away from the club

Regardless of what an individual with an edited Marina Granovskaia avatar and an alliterative, generic name on Twitter probably told you, the club cannot be run as if it’s a part of the latest installment in the FIFA video game series. Chelsea is an actual football club with real-life players, not an Xbox or PlayStation fantasy world with make believe people taking on the identities of professional footballers. Point being, chemistry with teammates and coaches is absolutely something that needs to be considered when building a proper football team. This is the reason the Blues cannot allow their three out-of-contract centerbacks to depart in the summer, snap their fingers and expect to be just fine with a new set of defenders.

One—or all—of the aforementioned centerbacks may be making demands in which the club refuses to meet. However, they need to meet at least one in the middle. Azpilicueta is reportedly asking for more than a one-year deal amidst serious interest from Barcelona. The captain is important to both the board and Tuchel as he’s the epitome of class, both on and off the pitch. Christensen is offering the club a lot of wiggle room as he’s shown a willingness to discuss both contract length and wages. Nevertheless, those talks have seemingly stalled and the prospect of the talented youngster going elsewhere is becoming real. Rudiger is the trickiest of the bunch as he desires a significant wage increase. He’s arguably the most important of the aforementioned names given his form over the last 12 months, but he’s also likeliest to leave for that exact reason.

The trio was a huge part in winning the club’s second Champions League trophy back in May. One year later, the thought of all three wearing another club’s colors is a grim one. Their importance in the aforementioned run, as well as the current team, cannot be overstated. While there is a lot of talk about the difficulty levels of playing in a three-at-the-back system, it’s challenging to play at the level Chelsea has been for awhile for any sustained period of time. The Blues can’t bring in anyone off the streets to plug into the back line, Tuchel needs certain types of players to execute his defensive gameplan.

Azpilicueta, Christensen and Rudiger all have a 12 to 18-month head start on any potential defensive reinforcements and that cannot go unnoticed either. Chelsea promoted Chalobah into the first team at the beginning of this season and even though he’s excelled, he’s not quite ready to start a Champions League final just yet. The Blues have a plethora of replacements lined up with names like Jules Kounde dominating headlines. Kounde is a necessary purchase in the eyes of many, but not even he can offer the consistency that the current centerbacks already do.

Chelsea simply needs to retain one or two of its current central defenders if it wants to maintain the high standards at the back without skipping a beat. That’s a minimum requirement. If the Blues don’t, they risk destabilizing a unit that is proven at the highest level of club football.

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How do you think the club should address the centerback contract negotiations? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!