Thomas Tuchel reviews Chelsea’s draw with Manchester United
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Chelsea may be flying high at the top of the Premier League, but they have a potential defensive crisis on their hands in the near future. Thomas Tuchel 's success at Stamford Bridge has been built on a rock-solid back line, yet the club's contractual situation is providing a headache they need to fix.
Chelsea have conceded just five goals in 13 Premier League games this season, but many of the architects of that record could leave the club in 2022.
As things stand Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen, Thiago Silva and Cesar Azpilicueta are all out of contract in the summer – and that should be a worry for the club.
While renewals could be announced soon, Chelsea should be looking to the January transfer window for solutions.
Rudiger is stalling on a new deal, Silva is 37 years old and Azpilicueta may want a new challenge, given he is currently being kept out of the starting line-up.
The news that Juventus defender Matthijs de Ligt will not be available in January, which has come via Fabrizio Romano on his Here We Go Podcast , means they will have to look elsewhere.
De Ligt is valued at £63million by Transfermarkt and if Chelsea were willing to pay that price, it does at least mean they have funds available for others.
De Ligt is staying put at Juventus (Image: GETTY)
With that in mind here are six top-quality centre-backs the Blues could move for in the mid-season window to bolster their back line.
Jules Kounde (Sevilla)
The man they tried very hard to sign in the summer, but fell just short of. Chelsea made a bid of £47m for Kounde late in the transfer window and thought they were onto a winner, only for Sevilla to demand £68m for his signature.
Reports at the time claimed the 23-year-old Frenchman was 'furious' that the deal had fallen through and Chelsea could follow up their interest in January.
Despite his unhappiness in August, Kounde has been a regular for Sevilla this season and, as a full France international, would come with plenty of pedigree.
Kounde nearly joined Chelsea in the summer (Image: GETTY)
Milan Skriniar (Inter Milan)
Skriniar is a player who has been repeatedly linked with a Premier League move – and that could finally come true in January.
The 26-year-old is under contract with Inter until June 2023, but the Italian side have reportedly been working hard to tie him down to a new deal.
That new contract is yet to become a reality yet, though, amid rumours of interest from Tottenham and others.
Skriniar has missed just one Serie A game for Inter this season and is useful at the other end of the pitch, having scored three times in the league and Champions League.
Tuchel could have a defensive issue on his hands (Image: GETTY)
Pau Torres (Villarreal)
Torres has been the subject of interest from Manchester United, Tottenham, Barcelona and Real Madrid over the past year, but remains with hometown club Villarreal for now.
"The pull of playing the Champions League with the team from my town was bigger," Torres told The Guardian recently of the £50m offer Tottenham made in the summer.
The 24-year-old is clearly very happy at Villarreal, but it is unlikely they will be able to hold onto him for much longer.
The Spain international is under contract until June 2024 and if they are to sell mid-season, Villarreal would surely demand a substantial fee.
Torres turned down Tottenham in the summer (Image: GETTY)
Niklas Sule (Bayern Munich)
Sule is out of contract with Bayern in the summer, so would be able to discuss a free transfer with Chelsea in January.
The 26-year-old has previously been linked with a move to Stamford Bridge, while rumours of newly-rich Newcastle's interest has emerged too.
Bild reported recently that Bayern are hopeful of extending the towering centre-back's deal and he has been a regular in the side this season.
Given Bayern's interest in Rudiger, a swap deal could potentially be on the cards.
Jose Gimenez (Atletico Madrid)
Gimenez is yet another player who has previously been linked with Chelsea. Those rumours partly stemmed from an interview the Uruguayan gave last year.
"I would have liked to play with [Frank] Lampard," he said. "I always used to watch Chelsea as a kid, loved them."
Gimenez is under contract with Atletico Madrid until June 2025 and the Spanish club do have a reputation for driving a hard bargain, meaning he would not come cheap.
But aged 26 and with a wealth of experience behind him for club and country, he would be a good signing.
Gimenez would cost a lot from Atletico Madrid (Image: GETTY)
Matthias Ginter (Borussia Monchengladbach)
Ginter is out of contract in July and has been in the gossip columns recently, with Inter Milan and Barcelona said to be keeping an eye on him.
The 27-year-old German has 46 caps for his country and could represent a bargain deal in the January transfer window.
Ginter played under Tuchel at Borussia Dortmund for two years so the two will know all about each other.
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