A pair of mid-tier centre backs go off the market

Dean Mouhtaropoulos

It's been widely reported that Chelsea have been looking to shore up the centre of defence, and news over the past two days is indicating that that will get a little bit harder. Both Jores Okore and Dejan Lovren had been mooted as possible options to add depth to the Blues' back line, and although neither would have been ideal signings they both ticked the 'young centre half with some potential box'. Enough reason to keep an eye on them.

Now both are off the market. My preference between the two, Okore, has been signed by Aston Villa, citing playing time reasons for choosing to spurn Chelsea, and Lovren has just been sold to Southampton by Lyon, who one assumes are pretty upset by his lack of development since breaking into the first team three seasons ago. In isolation, these deals don't matter -- Okore and Lovren would never have been plan Cs for Chelsea anyway -- but these moves both restrict Chelsea's options and set the tone for the rest of the market.

With Okore going for ~€5 million and Lovren for €10 million, that strongly implies that Porto are going to get something closer to €20 million for Eliaquim Mangala, who's been reported as the Blues' main centre back target from the beginning. Mangala's a better (and better developed) player than either of the two making a move this week, but I'd much rather avoid dealing with Porto when that much money is involved, if at all possible.

I didn't particularly want Okore and I'd have been looking to avoid Lovren at most costs, but in a world which is sorely lacking available, competent centre backs, it's difficult to see these early moves as being a positive. Less flexibility is almost always worse.

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