Chelsea had a strange 2020-21, disappointing under Frank Lampard and then dramatically improved under Thomas Tuchel. They finished the season back inside the Premier League's top four and by lifting the Champions League.
By measure that was a success but it wasn't necessarily an indication that they're ready to challenge for a league title. To do that they will need another aggressive summer and to improve in a couple of areas most notably the center half.
Azipilcueta, Thiago Silver, and Antonio Rudiger seem to be Thomas Tuchel's first choice, Andreas Christiansen is a capable back and so is Kurt Zouma, and if necessary Reece James can also be used as an exterior center-half.
With Azipilcueta approaching the twilight of his career and Thiago soon to turn 37, there's a need to invest in an automatic starter for the long term. So I am looking for a commanding presence who excels physically and technically and whose ability is garnished by vital intangibles to feel the void that might be left by either Silva or Cezar.
1. Jules Kounde.
Sevilla's Jules Kounde is too young to be a leader his character is still developing but he's a wanted man for goods reasons. Playing as the right-sided center-back in a four, he was part of one of the strongest defenses in Spain last season.
Lapotegi's side conceded just 33 goals but Jules isn't the perfect match for Silva but there are similarities. If anything he's a better dribble and more skillful. Whether he will have the same aerial presence as Thiago Silva Is questionable but Kounde is an enthusiastic one-on-one tackler who identifies and closes down space extremely quickly.
2. Nicolas Sule.
If the size is a priority, Bayern Munich's Sula could be Chealse's man, Sule is a rather deceptive player in that his body shape all 93 kgs of it makes him look less modern than he is.
He is very skillful and can sometimes be quite extravagant, his feet are excellent, and his passing is smart and reliable. Sule's mobility makes him an effective attacking presence in open play.
He's comfortable as both center-back and full-back which makes him perfect for one of the outside roles rather than Silva's anchoring position but that shouldn't be a deterrent.
3. Manuel Akanji.
If Chelsea is fearful of Sule's inconsistency and Kounde's inexperience then Dortmund's Akanji would be a healthy compromise. His performance at European Championships showed it's hard to go wrong with a strong, quick center-back, who is also skill full.
Akanji stands in comparison with Thiago Silva he ticks many of the same distribution and carrying balls into the boxes and he will be a very uncontroversial signing possessing all the technical abilities necessary to fit in the group, who want the ball on the ground and physical tools to survive the Premier League toughest examinations.
If Chelsea can make one of these signings it will make them unstoppable next season as a back-up for Thiago Silva or Cezar Azipilcueta.
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