Wesley Fofana’s injury: What options do Chelsea have to replace him?

Chelsea (Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images)
Chelsea (Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images) /

Chelsea signed Wesley Fofana in the 2022 summer window for €80.4 million. He was a Leicester City player at the time, and was at Ligue 1 club Saint Etienne before Leicester. Fofana’s injury record has always worried fans, which made it weird that it did not worry recruitment teams as much. The Frenchman played 35 league games in two full seasons for Leicester, and played 52 games in total for them. For Saint Etienne, he played 20 league games for them, making 30 total appearances, in three years.

Fofana has already missed too many games in his professional career, and that is not good for a 22-year-old. For context, according to Transfermarkt, Kalidou Koulibaly’s injury record spans from 2011/12 season to 2022/23 season, and he’s missed a total of 50 games. 50 games missed in 11 seasons, compared to 82 games missed in four seasons for Fofana, immediately shows how unreliable Fofana has been in his career. It’s worrying because this lack of availability, hence lack of games, has meant that the young defender has not developed to the level he should have, compared to his peers.

Credible sources have confirmed that the marquee Chelsea centerback signing is out again with an ACL rupture, and would be out for at least a majority of the new season, and possibly all of it. This has left many fans, and no doubt, the club, thinking about what to do next. This is a fair worry, as Fofana was very much in Mauricio Pochettino’s plans for the new season, but his absence seems to create a void.

What do Chelsea do in the absence of Wesley Fofana?

The best solution for Chelsea would be to…wait. Yes, wait. Other than Wesley Fofana, the west London side has Thiago Silva, Trevoh Chalobah, Benoit Badiashile, Levi Colwill and yes, Malang Sarr on their books. What they need to do, is be careful of who they sell from now on. There has been talks linking Chalobah away from the club, but the club would do well to keep the Chalobah at the club, because he’s a very good centerback that would be content with not getting majority of minutes.

Marc Cucurella can also come into the centerback conversation on the rare occasion that the Blues may need a centerback to make up a back three if there aren’t enough out-and-out centerbacks.

Reports have stated that Pochettino plans to use a two-centerback formation. This means that there are still more than enough competent centerback options even with the absence of Fofana for months. It’s important to not panic buy a short term centerback signing because it would likely create more problems than it solves in the long term. The Blues are not short in the defender department.

The main reason the best option is to wait, is that an opportunity could present itself that gives the Blues a chance to get a centerback into the club that would have very few downsides and many upsides. Todd Boehly would not be able to take advantage of such an opportunity if he adds “centerback” to the list of pressing concerns and rushes into the market to get one done as quickly as possible.

Lastly, Pochettino should have a tentative pecking order even before the season starts. Fofana is a high profile signing, so he’s likely to play every game when he’s fit. This means that with him being injured, someone lower down the pecking order moves up, no matter where in the pecking order that player is. Moving up in the pecking order means that a decision has to be made – based on many factors – when Fofana inevitably returns to the side, whenever that is. This decision would depend heavily on how far down the pecking order Fofana’s replacement is, and how well the replacement is performing.

Next. Patience with Mauricio Pochettino spells glory for Chelsea. dark

In conclusion, the Wesley Fofana injury is worrying, but not to the extend that the Blues need to sink more millions into acquiring a new centerback just to weather the perceived storm that is this injury. Patience is important, there is no crisis as long as Chelsea doesn’t sell a centerback they shouldn’t.