Who could replace Lukaku at Chelsea?
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Chelsea are on the lookout for central defenders in the summer transfer window and Presnel Kimpembe has emerged as an intriguing prospect for the Blues. With the window now open and Todd Boehly’s ownership in place, Thomas Tuchel’s side can now get down to business to strengthen their squad where it most needs it.
Central defence is the obvious area of weakness for Chelsea as things stand. Antonio Rudiger is poised to join Real Madrid and Andreas Christensen will be a Barcelona player at the end of month, once they can afford to officially register him. Meanwhile, there remains some doubt of the futures of Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso.
Boehly and his consortium completed their takeover from Roman Abramovich on May 30 and boosted the club’s books with a £100million injection of shares two days later. They are reportedly happy to provide £200m for additions in the summer transfer window and give Tuchel the ultimate say over how it is spent.
Jules Kounde nearly joined Chelsea from Sevilla last summer and looks set to finally do so in the coming weeks. Personal terms have already been agreed with the 23-year-old, but the fact he is away on international duty with France means Chelsea fans will have to wait for the move to be completed.
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With two senior centre-backs leaving, Chelsea need more than just Kounde this summer. The position is a clear priority for the club and RB Leipzig’s Josko Gvardiol, Villarreal’s Pau Torres, Atletico Madrid’s Jose Gimenez and Juventus’ Matthijs de Ligt are all other options. However, it is Tuchel’s former club, PSG, which provides the most intriguing possibilities.
According to football.london, Tuchel is keen to bring Marquinhos to Stamford Bridge, but such a transfer is deemed a long-shot. Therefore, Marquinhos’ defensive partner Kimpembe might be a more achievable option. Thiago Silva, who played with both of them at PSG before joining Chelsea two years ago, seems keen on the prospect. France Football reports that Kimpembe has received ‘a few text messages’ from Silva to ‘sell him’ the project at Chelsea – and that could prove to be a key step for the west London side, given the duo’s strong relationship.
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Upon signing a new contract with PSG in July 2020, Kimpembe was asked about his bond with the experienced Silva. “Thiago has brought me a lot, both on and off the pitch,” he told the club website. “I try to use him as a role model, especially with his extremely professional attitude, his style of playing and his positioning. I am very proud to be able to say that today.”
Kimpembe has made 220 appearances for PSG and has learned from both Silva and Marquinhos to grow into a strong and commanding defender. He has two years left on his contract, but may well be available, given PSG’s current situation.
The French giants are undergoing a period of rebuilding this summer, with Luis Campos taking over from Leonardo as sporting director. Mauricio Pochettino is expected to be sacked in the coming days, while The Athletic says the club are willing to sell first-team players for the right price.
Silva is not the Kimpembe only reason for choosing Chelsea. He already knows Kounde well from the France national team – where they are currently spending lots of time together due to Nations League fixtures – and he also has an existing relationship with Tuchel, who managed PSG from 2018 to 2020 before moving to Stamford Bridge.
“When the coach arrived, we spoke a lot,” Kimpembe said. “He spoke to me about the way he sees things, he shared his philosophy, and I find myself in his approach. He has an incredible personality, he is able to be very funny and we have a good mutual understanding.”
With an understanding manager to play under and Silva and Kounde to play alongside, it seems as though Kimpembe would be a perfect fit for Chelsea this summer.
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