Chelsea are among several teams who “would be keen” on Jonathan Clauss this summer, according to local news outlet La Voix Du Nord, if the right back were to decide not to sign a new contract with RC Lens. The 29-year-old is about to enter the final year of his current deal, and while he’s made it clear that he won’t be leaving for the sake of leaving, he also made it clear that he’s quite pleased with all these links. The choice seems to be between extending and staying or not extending and leaving (with Lens cashing in on a player they signed as a free agent).
But Clauss’s not sweating this decision; it’s all gravy considering that just a few years ago he was plying his trade in the depths of the French football pyramid. He didn’t make his top-flight debut until 2020, at the age of 28. You could say he’s a late-bloomer: 18 months later, he was making his France national team debut. He’s been named in Ligue 1’s Team of the Season both of his years at RC Lens. Now he’s being linked with Chelsea, Atlético Madrid, and Olympique Marseille, who finished runners-up in Ligue 1 (Lens finished seventh).
Given his age and his credentials, Clauss isn’t going to command an outrageous transfer fee. When Chelsea were linked last year, the speculation was for around €6-10m, and that remains the case today as well.
However, given his age and his credentials, Clauss shouldn’t be anywhere near the top of our list of transfer targets, even if Transfer Tsar Thomas Tuchel does want him. He may be good; he may be not. He may be good for a long time yet to come; he may be not. But, as ever but especially now, we should be using the market to acquire the best of the best, and use our Academy to fill out the rest of the squad’s needs.
Otherwise, we’re just going to end up with another bloated, piecemeal, haphazardly constructed, yet expensive, squad like we have had for some time. We cannot afford that, not anymore, neither literally (i.e. financially), nor in terms of competitiveness. That’s not a knock on Clauss — though the idea that he may be a next César Azpilicueta or Gary Cahill has sailed many moons ago: Clauss will be 30 in September; Azpi was (almost) 23, Cahill 26 (as was Didier Drogba) when they signed. Thiago Silva is the exception that proves that unwritten rule.