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Chelsea identify two center backs as Plan B after John Stones — report

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It would appear that after four rejected transfer bids and a rejected transfer request from John Stones himself, Chelsea are done trying to sign the 21-year-old promising English center back.  For now, in any case.  We've probably just about had enough dealing with that hypocritical bunch anyway — the authorities must protect our club and players, but hold on, let us sign a couple more players before the end of the transfer window; also, don't mind this fine we received last year!  VALUES! — not to mention the ridiculous valuations we had reached in the bidding process.  The fourth bid was supposedly a rather outrageous £38m, almost double our initial offer!

In his pre-match press conference, Jose Mourinho hinted that we might yet sign at least one more player before the transfer window closes at 6pm on Tuesday, though he did not specify in what position and he certainly didn't mention any names.

"Hopefully I have one in but we are not in trouble. We are not desperate. We are not panicking because the transfer window closes in a couple of days. If we get him, we get him. If not, we don't. But for a perfect shape of the squad, one more player would give us a good balance."

-Jose Mourinho; source: Telegraph

Presumably, this one player will be a center back, as it's been hinted all along since the Stones saga began.  Stones was supposed to be that one player.  Now that he's not likely to be, two potential names have emerged in the last 24 hours.

We had already talked about Ezequiel Garay just the other day, though the 28-year-old's current club, Zenit St. Petersburg has since declared the player not for sale.  So perhaps Monaco's Aymen Abdennour is a more realistic target; his name has been brought up by both the Telegraph and the Mail (and probably others, too) this afternoon.  The 26-year-old Tunisian international has impressed at times, though his name hardly inspires transfer market fantasies.  Names that would inspire said fantasies could include Raphael Varane (long an untouchable player of our desires), Aymeric Laporte (and his €50m buyout), and Éder Balanta whom I only know from Football Manager, but others far more qualified than I rate him quite highly.  One thing in favor of Abdennour is that Liverpool are supposedly interested as well, and we all know how much we love a good gazumping.

In addition to realistic or semi-realistic targets, we still have the Pogba pipe-dream (not a center back, but don't hold that against him) and the entirely random story out of China that we're looking to bring in Zhang Linpeng, the "Chinese Sergio Ramos", presumably just to see how far we can push the loopholes in the work permit application system.

All that said, for my money, if we cannot get a player of the calibre of Varane or Laporte or even Stones, we might as well fill the fourth center back role from the youth system.  What say you, Chelsea fan dearest?  What would your Plan B, be?

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