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Tuchel sees Joško Gvardiol as ‘potential replacement’ for Antonio Rüdiger — report

Let the speculations begin!

Croatia Portraits - UEFA Euro 2020 Photo by Mattia Ozbot - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images

Antonio Rüdiger has decided to leave Chelsea at the end of the season, joining Andreas Christensen in heading out the door after failing to agree contract extensions with the club. It’s certainly a bit of a unique situation, losing two first-team regulars in central defense, though hardly the unprecedented tragedy that it’s being made out to be. Players come and players go. As Tuchel said, Chelsea will survive.

Still, it does obviously mean that we now need to actually do the defensive revamp that we’ve been threatening to since 2020, when Thiago Silva arrived as a temporary stop-gap next to long-term solution ... [checks notes] ... Kurt Zouma (while we were actively trying to get rid of Rüdiger, Fikayo Tomori, and to a lesser extent, Christensen, incidentally) — best laid plans, and all that!

The obvious need also opens up plenty of opportunity for speculation, even though we’re still stuck in transfer limbo thanks to the UK government’s restrictions. Familiar names like Jules Koundé and Pau Torres have already been floated in media reports, while Loan Army types Levi Colwill and Ethan Ampadu could find unexpectedly fertile ground in which to stake their first-team claims for next season.

One new name comes from Sky Germany’s Florian Plettenberg, who claims that Thomas Tuchel is a “big fan” of Joško Gvardiol, and sees the 20-year-old as a “potential replacement” for Rüdiger. Of course, there’s been “no direct contact” with the player who’s “totally happy” at RB Leipzig, but who cares about such minor details. Welcome, Joško!

That said, Gvardiol, one of the breakout stars of the Bundesliga season, certainly does fit the bill. Already a great all-around defender at such a young age, he’s got plenty of experience in Conte-disciple Domenico Tedesco’s three-man defense (in the center or left-center) and can also play left back. Tall, quick, strong, technical, etc. Did I mention left-footed?! The kid’s going places and interest will not be in short supply. Fees upwards of €50m have already been mentioned, and that’s probably just the opening bid.

So, how about a welcome present, Mr. New Owner?