Chelsea can seal January transfer masterstroke to sign Thomas Tuchel’s Jules Kounde alternative
After adding Saul Niguez from Atletico Madrid to what is already a squad jam-packed full of talent, Chelsea are expected to challenge on all fronts this season.
Thomas Tuchel has already showcased his coaching talent since arriving at Stamford Bridge and the acquisition of the Spain midfielder along with the capture of Romelu Lukaku gives him a pretty complete group of players to work with.
Even so, the Blues may look to use the January market to add some players to the squad should injuries or a loss of form open up some areas of potential weakness going into 2022. And given there are a number of elite players who have contracts expiring in 2023, there may be some value to be had.
Here are some players Tuchel might look to add to his already formidable squad on the cheap with contracts running down.
Kalidou Koulibaly, Napoli
If we’re being hypercritical, then the one area of Chelsea’s squad where they may be lacking in depth is in defence.
The Blues didn’t bring in a direct replacement for Kurt Zouma after his sale to West Ham United and were unable to get a deal for Sevilla’s Jules Kounde over the line despite late interest.
Napoli colossus Koulibaly would be an intriguing option for Chelsea with that in mind. The Senegal international is regarded as one of the best centre-backs on the planet and the Blues were linked with a move for him when Maurizio Sarri was in charge.
At 30 years old, he would potentially be more of a short-term acquisition than the 22-year-old Kounde. Nevertheless, with his athleticism, aggression and ability to bring the ball out of defence, Koulibaly would potentially have a major impact for the European champions.
Jose Gaya, Valencia
While Marcos Alonso has enjoyed a stellar start to the season for the Blues, in recent years he’s been a little inconsistent. At 30 years old, Chelsea may start to think about another player who can operate in the left wing-back role to provide stiff competition to Ben Chilwell.
Gaya would potentially be a sound signing with that in mind, as his surges up the left flank have been a trademark for Valencia for years.
While he clearly has an affinity with Los Che after coming through their academy set-up, at 26 there will surely be some hesitancy about signing a new deal at the Mestalla. After all, he has been linked with some of the biggest clubs in Europe throughout his career and may view an upcoming window as a chance to finally move on.
Ryan Gravenberch, Ajax
Given Jorginho and N’Golo Kante both have contracts that expire in 2023 and they are aged 29 and 30 respectively, the Blues may need to keep an eye on their central midfield options, that despite the incredible depth they currently have in the position.
Gravenberch is just 19 years old, but he’s already made impressive strides in the nascent stages of his career, establishing himself as a regular for both Ajax and the Netherlands.
Tall and composed, Gravenberch has all the tools to become any kind of midfielder he wants to be. He’s adept at sitting in front of the back four and orchestrating Ajax’s attacks from deep, but he’s just as capable picking up the ball and bursting through midfield himself.
Given he’s come through the Ajax academy set-up, the Dutch giants will be desperate to extend his stay at the club soon. If he doesn’t, then you suspect there’ll be a clamour from Europe’s biggest clubs to bring him in.