With the recent departure of David Luiz and with the loan news of a few of our young Centre backs (Kalas, Omeruo (Looking likely with Karanka’s recent quotes) Zouma (if rumours are to be believed)) we do look a little short handed in the Central defense. There have been murmurings and tenuous links to a few defenders and its not hard to believe that with our desire to be winners this season rather than runners up that we could be looking at buying somebody to fill the gap left by our beloved frizzy haired one.
This has been a cause of some discussion in the comments sections of a few posts over who we should target if and what sort of skill sets are we looking for, do we want a player suited to a high line?, a straight John Terry replacement to take his place in coming seasons?, a player to compliment Gary Cahill for future partnerships? This is just a couple of the ideas that spring to mind when we consider buying a new Central Defender this is not even taking into account whether we need to buy one at all.
I’m writing this post to name drop a few of the players we could be looking at (if we are looking that is) and what they could bring to the table as well as potential cost and lifespan at the club, when first drawing up this idea I had a few names but I will refine it to the 4 I feel are the most likely to be transfer targets just so this post is not ridiculously long. They are in no particular order of preference just the order they sprung to mind. Of course any feedback or additional names are more than welcome. Anyhow on to candidate #1
#1 RAPHAËL VARANE
Who wouldn't want to see these two together again via www4.pictures.zimbio.com
Age: 21, April 25th 1993
Current club: Real Madrid
Estimated transfer value: £20-30 Million (Value roughly devised from TransferMarkt)
A real fan favourite on these forums already and of Mourinho himself. Varane has already cemented himself as one of the top young defenders in world football (Jose himself declared him the top young defender in football) Varane displays a maturity and a skillset far more developed than his age would suggest.
Blessed with decent pace fantastic reading of the game and strong both in the air and on the ground Varane is pretty much the standard of a top modern defender, comfortable both in a high line and a low block Varane would fit in with whicher method Chelsea elected to use. Already pretty much a starter at Real Madrid when fit Varane would have no problem slotting right in to the team from word go should we buy him. The only issue lies in how much it would take to prise him away from Madrid as they would almost certainly refuse to part with such a player. However his well documented good working relationship with Mourinho could just go towards pulling this one off. It would be hard to argue with a fee below £30 million given that we could get 10 plus years of strong service out of him, but given the money being spent on Luiz and Shaw it could easily be a considerable amount more.
#2 ELIAQUIM MANGALA
Maybe I shouldn't have agreed to that buyout clause via static.sportsvibe.co.uk
Current club: FC Porto
Estimated transfer value: £20-40 Million (Value roughly devised from TransferMarkt, plus it’s Porto)
Wow there must have been something in the water in 90’s France, on the cusp of another potential golden generation built on a backbone of Varane, Mangala, Pogba, Griezman plus countless other up and coming Frenchmen including hopefully a certain Mr Zouma.
Anyway back to the point, Eliaquim Mangala is another all round defender quick, strong, dominant in the air and with fantastic timing of his tackling. Mangala has developed into one of the premier young defenders at FC Porto, his skillset is ideal for a Premier League defender. Again Mangala is another defender that would be comfortable playing in both styles of defense although his concentration has let him down at times and he is a player probably in need of developing further in a more defensively challenging league, all this means is he would probably take a little more time to settle in and would not immediately unseat one of Terry or Cahill. He is more than capable of developing the weaknesses in his game yet and could turn into one of the games elite.
The downside of Mangala is quite simple, he is extremely costly and this is not necessarily related to his abilities. Porto have always been known as tough negotiators and invariably if we were to pursue Mangala it would be no different. He is rumoured to have a release clause in the region of £30-35 million and its hard to see Porto letting him go for anything less. Much like with Varane this value could be justified seeing as he could offer close to 10 years at the top level however given he is of a similar play style and skillset as Kurt Zouma a younger and arguably higher potential player, it could be seen as a rather wasteful purchase rather than refining the rough diamond we already have much like Porto have already done. Personally Mangala is not the player we need with someone like Zouma waiting in the wings.
#3 MEHDI BENATIA
Is Stamford Bridge this way? via media2.ftbpro.com
Age: 27, April 17th 1987
Current club: AS Roma
Estimated transfer value: £24-32 Million (Value roughly devised from TransferMarkt)
Mehdi Benatia one of defensive rocks behind AS Roma's excellent season in Serie A where they made a serious title push. Benatia joined last summer from Udinese for roughly £12 Million and contributed massively to their excellent defensive record, at Christmas last season Roma had the best defensive record of any team in the top 5 leagues.
Another Centre back whose reading of the game and composure is excellent, Benatia has finally started to receive recognition as one of the top defenders in the game. With fantastic ability to tackle and intercept the ball Benatia is a bit more of an old school defender who excelled in Rudi Garcia's side where defence was seen as a focus first and foremost. With that in mind it is not hard to see Benatia fitting into the Chelsea defence especially when we want to employ the same sort of strategy we did so often this past season. There is grounds to compare Benatia to John Terry in terms of how he would fit our team. A solid defender more suited to sitting a little bit further back but also with the ability to organise the defense and even chip in with a couple of goals, particularly from set pieces ( His 5 goals for Roma this season attest somewhat to that)
At 27 Benatia is theoretically coming into his prime years and could give Chelsea 4 to 6 years of service potentially, he could serve as a capable replacement for Terry for a few years offering some much needed experience into the backline until one of our plethora of young talents is ready to step up. He would also be close to closing his Chelsea career around the same time as Cahill as well so it would not mean that our young talent would be held back from a spot in the team for too long. Roma would be reluctant to do a deal for a player they have only had for a year but you would have to imagine that they would sell for the right price if we were prepared to meet it, opinion on his value depending on how badly you feel we need a new first choice Centre back.
# 4 Joao Miranda
You mean I get to play with Thibaut and Diego again? via www.ciyaaro24.com
Age: 29, September 7th 1984
Current club: Atletico Madrid
Estimated transfer value: £12-20 Million (Value roughly devised from TransferMarkt)
Whatever position Chelsea are looking to sign a player in one thing is for sure, they will reportedly target an Atletico Madrid player as one of the options. The somewhat surprise winners of La Liga and Champions league finalists were always going to have players linked with transfers here there and everywhere, but who would have though the press would assume Atletico would become the Arsenal to our Manchester City in this instance.
Atletico had an absolutely phenomenal season last year defying the duopoly between Real and Barcelona for the first time since the 2003-2004 season, a massive part of that success was the Atletico defense which we got to see first hand in the Champions league semi finals. A back line consisting of Thibaut Courtois, Filipe Luis Joao Miranda Diego Godin and Juanfran formed one of Europe best defenses last season. With Courtois hopefully coming back home and Luis potentially checking in next season we could feasibly have 3/5ths of the Atletico backline in our starting lineup come August.
At 29 years of age what you see is what you get with Miranda a very well rounded defender who is good in the air and shows great composure and concentration with the knack of scoring the odd goal or two, not selected as part of Brazil’s world cup squad despite his part in Atleticos amazing season, Miranda would be a solid addition to the Chelsea squad. The question marks really are over whether Miranda is capable enough to displace Terry or Cahill or whether he would be a happy bench player after being such a key member of the Atletico team. Even were he to displace one of the two you’d have to imagine it would not be for more than a couple of seasons with the young blood waiting to come in.
Cost wise it is unlikely he would command a few much more than around £16 Million but whether he is a player worth that kind of money and if Atletico would be winning to sell any more of their winning team especially to Chelsea is certainly up for debate. All in all I would be surprised to see this deal happen and he does not seem as good a choice as the others on this list.
Would any of those replace these 2? via lfcproud.files.wordpress.com
If you've made it this far thanks for reading this very long post. I don’t tend to write too many posts but I thought this could make an interesting topic of discussion given the Miranda rumours coming out today and wanted to leave some thoughts. Personally I would like to get either Varane or Benatia, I could name a few other players we could look at like Subotic, Lovren, Stones and Martinez but I did not want to this post to be endless. If people like this I could look to do more for different positions perhaps. Any feedback is appreciated and thanks for reading!