The depth of Chelsea's defensive corps has been thrown into serious question over the past two seasons. Despite the addition of Gary Cahill in January 2012, the Blues have been plagued by injuries and suspensions to their centre backs, routinely going into games under strength. Coupled with a lack of elite talent -- only David Luiz could conceivably be construed as a major part of the club's long-term future in the position -- and you have the motivation for a significant upgrade this summer.
How do we get there? Ideally, Chelsea would want a young centre half who improves the team immediately but has the potential to develop into a major force. Raphael Varane would fit the bill if not for the unfortunate fact that he's already an established starter at Real Madrid and therefore virtually impossible to pry away. Another option is Roma's Marquinhos, who's impressed all observers with a sterling debut season in Serie A.
But if the Blues want to get their hands on the 19-year-old Brazilian, they'll have to fight for him. Against the people who own Varane, no less (so greedy!):
A 20m € bid from Real Madrid has been rejected by Roma according to Gazzetta for brazilian df Marquinhos— Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) June 4, 2013
€20 million was never going to be enough to induce Roma to sell one of their prize assets, and I'm sure Madrid know that. This doesn't do a good job setting a floor for Marquinhos' prize, as it's so absurdly low nobody would have guessed that it would get things done anyway. What this does establish is that Madrid are involved, and that's bad news for anyone else looking to pick him up.
Chelsea have the muscle to hang with Los Blancos in a financial duel, but whether they should or not is another matter. What's very, very clear, however, is that the centre back market is going to be highly competitive. Should be a fun summer.