Between Cesar Azpilicueta (Dave), Branislav Ivanovic, Wallace, Todd Kane, Kenneth Omeruo, Tomas Kalas, Jay Dasilva, Fankaty Dabo, Isak Ssewankambo (though I personally prefer him playing in midfield), after the Wycombe game potentially Kurt Zouma and Ola Aina. That would have to be just about the strongest right fullback complement of any club in the world. But that doesn't mean that there isn't potentially room for further improvement.
That's great - but with Kalas, Omerou and Zouma all really centre backs (and probably all on loan) and Wallace, Todd Kane, Jay Dasilva, Fankaty Dabo, Isak Ssewankambo and Ola Aina either too young or on loan as well, we're really down to Dave and Ivanovic.
That's not really enough, as Culain recently noted:
Look back at 2009.
LB: Cole, Zhirkov, Ferreira, Belletti
CB: Ivan, Terry, Carvalho, Alex
RB: Bosingwa, Ivan, Ferreira, Belletti, Essien
10 defenders who were all capable of playing at a high level. 4 high quality CB’s, none of whom were major injury risks at that point and even some of our fullbacks could fill in in a pinch.
As we stand now our starting right back will be our left back’s #1 backup, our backup rightback is also our backup CB, one of our starting CB’s is old, on a single year deal and has missed a ton of time in recent years. And then we have EBGH, who is solid and whom I love but who is also no Ricardo Carvalho.
If Terry or Cahill miss any time, our depth is basically gone. Zouma might be ready for some minutes, but I don’t want to be relying on him for a 2-3 month stretch. We’re still missing our Carvalho replacement. I’d like one.
Back on Track (Right)
With Branislav Ivanovic, Cesar Azpilicueta, Wallace, Todd Kane, Kenneth Omeruo and Joshua Debayo Temitayo-Olaoluwe Aina [Ola Aina]. I struggle to see any real need for any right backs (again not all of them will necessarily make it but I like what I'm seeing from Ola Aina and Todd Kane and there are big wraps on Wallace). With Ivanovic still around, Azpilicueta coming on well, Wallace, Todd Kane and Josh Aina we are very well placed at right back at the moment. Earlier links with Tottenham star Kyle Walker can probably be pretty safely ruled out, Spurs have learned not to sell to league rivals and with all the options we've got already we couldn't give him guarantees about playing time. One player I would consider adding would be Real Madrid youth star Francisco José Rodríguez, who would be quite useful in plugging the gap at right back in our youth set up left by the release of Samuel Bangura and Nortei Nortey. Wallace’s loan failed and we’ll have to work out how to use or young Brazilian star for next season, whether that be another loan or keeping him on with the main squad.
Another youth option would be Romania’s Cristian Marian Manea, the 16 year old superstar who is the youngest player to represent Romania ever, he has excellent technique, considerable speed and stamina, and a desire to attack – a modern full back. At 183cm tall he has also played in central defence and given his calmness in possession, adequate heading and good anticipation he may eventually end up playing in the middle. Ajax, Arsenal, Inter and Udinese have already expressed an interest in him. Further youth options include
If we need a young English RB (other than Todd Kane and Ola Aina, so we probably don’t), we should look at Calum Chambers. Yet another exciting prospect to have graduated from Southampton’s exceptional academy, despite his tender years Arsenal have reportedly already been monitoring Calum Chambers for some time already. He’s not the next Luke Shaw, but the England Under-19 captain made his breakthrough into the first team last season and still managed to rack up 22 league appearances. In his first season competing in the Premier League he proved that age is but a number, rising to the massive pressure of some crucial games at St. Marys and looking impressive in them. He may yet exceed the likes of Kane and Aina (it’s a close race at the moment). Leeds youngster and England U20 representative Sam Byram is an alternative and would be both relatively cheap and homegrown (Everton's Jonjoe Kenny is younger still and would be a good longer term option to compete with Kane/Aina).
I will add two caveats to my previous consideration of the right back/wingback position, whilst Ivanovic, Azpilicueta, Wallace, Kane, Omeruo, Kalas and Aina means we have a very strong right defensive side, I would not argue that it's improvement-less. There are two possible improvements one could make to the right side defence, signing a warhorse like Juventus' Stephan Lichsteiner (linked recently with PSG, Arsenal, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid); this would allow Ivanovic to play permanently in a central role and would allow us to loan out Wallace, Kane, Omeruo, Kalas and Aina again, as we'd have plenty of cover with Lichsteiner, Azpilicueta and Ivanovic. Alternatively, Lichsteiner could be used as a rock at right back, allowing us to employ Azpilicueta and Wallace as right wingers, and freeing Kalas, Omerou and Ivanovic of right side responsibilities to focus on central defence.
The 2nd caveat essentially replicates this option, but going for youth instead of experience (Lichsteiner). In this case, Serge Aurier, Mattia de Sciglio and Mario Fernandes are the three key options, with Azpilicueta and Ivanovic staying back to allow Aurier/de Sciglio/Fernandes to be unleashed down the right side. Serge Aurier has been playing in the top flight since he was 16, and the Ivorian star has all the physical attributes required to succeed in the modern game particularly in the Premier League, he’s quick, athletic and fearsome in the challenge and his performances have got better and better with experience, a swashbuckling right back but who can also deputize on the left (well really he can play anywhere across the back four), he’d be a good addition, even to a team that already has Ivanovic, Azpilicueta, Wallace, Kane, Omeruo, Kalas and Aina (though were we to sign one of the Aurier/de Sciglio/Fernandes trio, Tomas Kalas and Kenneth Omeruo would be moved back to playing more in the centre of defence, one would also assume that Ivanovic would too be focused on central defence as Azpilicueta, Wallace, Kane, Aina and one of Aurier/de Sciglio/Fernandes would be more than adequate). He can also play in a screening defensive midfielder role and has a biting tackle. As a defender, he contributes a lot to the attack as well; his five goals this season in Ligue 1 would put him second in the current Premier League scoring defenders table, and he also has six assists to his name. Arsenal want him by all accounts, but were interested too (and rightly so as he’d be a great addition).
Mattia de Sciglio is a rising star for the Rossoneri, ably filling the right back position and can also fill in at left back or right midfield, he impressed at the Confederations Cup and is a major target of Carlo Ancelotti’s Real Madrid. de Sciglio has pace, technique and based on his breakthrough, the right attitude and work ethic to make it to the game's highest level, he has eight Azzurri caps to his name in less than a year and played 29 games for the Rossoneri during 2012-13 season, he’d be a valuable asset and would work well with any combination of Ivanovic, Azpilicueta, Wallace, Kane, Omeruo, Kalas or Aina in helping to make our right side defence the strongest in the world. Mattia de Sciglio injury has let another potential option Torino wingback Matteo Darmian come to the fore at the World Cup, he was fine in Italy’s win over England, and he would cost a fraction of what we would be likely to pay for Aurier/de Sciglio/Fernandes would (and Barca have apparently shown some interest). Mario Fernandes is an interesting player, he refused to go when called up to Brazil, instead deciding to continue with his then club Gremio. He has been a true star since moving to Russia and has attracted the interest of Borussia Dortmund (but not Brazilian selectors who have not forgiven the snubbing whilst he was at Gremio). He’s a marmite player, but I believe he would really flourish under the watchful eyes of Mourinho.
Business: Realistically we don’t need anyone, I would of course like us to bring in one more for the senior team (see my consideration above) and one for the youth setup, this will ensure we keep that 'best right fullback complement in the world tag' and it will give Dave a hand.
The best technically is probably Mario Fernandes, Mattia de Sciglio is the most versatile, Serge Aurier has the potential to be another Ashley Cole but on the right and Stephan Lichsteiner, though older, is still a real option, he’s been great for Juve and would be an asset, and his experience would be valued by Mourinho. If I were to pick one player to add it would be Lichsteiner, ahead of Aurier (I’d prefer Mario Fernandes really over Aurier given the fact his technical finesse really suites our new style of play, but he could be trouble in the dressing room. De Sciglio is a wonderful talent, but great young Italian players so rarely leave Italy it makes him an unrealistic option), and Rafael da Silva is the smokey (an Australianism for ‘dark horse’) and possible in the upheavals of LvG era at Man Utd (and if I am correct would be homegrown).
On the youth front, I’ve already noted I’m a Francisco José Rodríguez fan, additionally, we could consider; Fulham and Northern Ireland youth star Liam Donnelly; Spain, Arsenal and former Barca youngster Héctor Bellerín, Bayern Munich’s Vladimir Rankovic or FC Basel and Switzerland star Michael Gonçalves (in whom Man Utd have also shown some interest). Of the available youth options, though I remain a Francisco José Rodríguez fan, I’d have to pick Vladimir Rankovic ahead of Bellerín, then Rodríguez third. Stephan Lichsteiner and Vladimir Rankovic (and potentially Serge Aurier).