£39m Chelsea transfer would hint at Thomas Tuchel’s Reece James plan to aid Romelu Lukaku exit

£39m Chelsea transfer would hint at Thomas Tuchel's Reece James plan to aid Romelu Lukaku exit

Following the departures of Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger, it’s clear Chelsea have a shortage in the centre-back department. The Blues have four senior options to call upon from last season’s squad in Thiago Silva, Trevoh Chalobah, Cesar Azpilicueta and Malang Sarr.

With a relentless fixture schedule compounded by a World Cup break, four players for three spots would appear light in a position before even acknowledging the quality the Blues have lost in the position. Of course, Chelsea plan on completing transfers to enhance their depth, and Levi Colwill could come into the reckoning, but a further option would be for Thomas Tuchel to look at a change of system.

The German coach has acknowledged the results of the summer transfer window could influence his decision but his comments after the final match of the Premier League season seemed to suggest his preference would be to maintain the three central defenders he has utilised since taking charge at Stamford Bridge.

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Tuchel said: “I don’t know if it would be a chance or another shift. I don’t think it’s a problem of structure that we have because we delivered in this structure at a very high level with our performances. But we are looking in every direction. I think the structure suits our players very well with the players you mentioned, but also with Thiago Silva, our midfielders, Reece James and Ben Chilwell because they have more freedom to attack on both sides.

“There were some reasons to play this structure in the way we played it and we were very successful and at a high level very stable. It’s not the plan to change it but maybe we are forced to. It’s no problem to adapt and find solutions, but the problem is we are forced to be passive and it’s what we don’t like and we are not used to it. So I can answer the question more precisely when things move forward and we can start to act.”

Chelsea have been closely following Jules Kounde, with personal terms long since agreed but no deal in place with Sevilla. Nathan Ake is the latest figure to be linked to the club, with Tuchel said to be interested in the Dutchman’s return to west London. Transfers have yet to be forthcoming at Stamford Bridge however, with only a fee agreed for Eddie Beach.

It is still early in the window with plenty of opportunities for players to arrive, but the Blues, to an extent, have a fail-safe option. Reece James proved that he may have been Tuchel’s best option in the right side of defence, with a particularly impressive performance against Vinicius Junior. The 48-year-old Blues coach has suggested in the past that he leans towards wing-back being the England international’s better position.

He said: “I would love to have two Reece James’ to have the problem (of best position) solved! It is 55% towards wing-back, 45% towards back three. It depends how the opponent plays against us, do we expect a lot of possession, how is their structure for offensive transition. For this can sometimes be helpful for Reece to play in back three and be the first guy to cover in transition and not be involved in the attack. So we have his speed and physicality, and protection of the opponent’s counter-attacks. These are the thoughts.

“I am leaning more into that his very best position is wing-back, where he is maybe more decisive, more useful. It is more demanding. His next step is to be a regular over 50, 55, 60 matches player. From there we have to decide. Both positions are filled with top quality with him.”

The consideration of James being utilised at centre-back once again next season, while far from ideal given his expertise at wing-back, does give Chelsea some flexibility in the market. This can be seen in the attempts to negotiate a move for Romelu Lukaku to Inter Milan.

It has been suggested that Alessandro Bastoni, Milan Škriniar and Denzel Dumfries have all been touted in possible makeweights to facilitate the loan deal for the Belgian. However, the Italian defender appears content to remain at the San Siro, while PSG seem to be leading the race for Skriniar. The two central defenders would more obviously fill the gaps in Chelsea’s squad but Dumfries could still provide an alternative.

Reports suggest Chelsea will begin negotiations for the right wing-back who shared minutes with Matteo Darmian at the San Siro last term. Including the Dutch defender directly in a deal for Lukaku appears difficult, with a £39 million fee being suggested as enough for the Italian side to consider the deal.

It would perhaps not be Chelsea’s ideal route to depth in defence, but if the pressure ramps up over the next two months the Blues have a degree of flexibility.

Source by Football London

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