Chelsea can ruin Pep Guardiola’s transfer plans and solve two problem positions with David Alaba
Frank Lampard has already started ticking off the items on his summer transfer window wish list.
Both Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech have been recruited for next season, giving Chelsea the striker and right-sided attacker they wanted.
Now, the Blues are looking to resolve other problem areas in their team, but with more focus on their defence.
Their most pressing need is at left-back, where the Blues boss has switched between Marcos Alonso and Emerson Palmieri this season. Neither have seemingly satisfied, so if another big-money signing is to arrive before the start of next season it is likely it will be in this position.
Leicester City’s Ben Chilwell has been strongly linked with a switch to Stamford Bridge, but more recently David Alaba has been the subject of speculation.
The Austrian earned himself a reputation as one of the best left-backs in Europe during several seasons at Bayern Munich, and recent reports suggest Chelsea have approached the German champions over a potential transfer for the 28-year-old.
Manchester City are also rumoured suitors for Alaba, with Pep Guardiola reportedly eyeing a player he used to manage as someone who can help his rebuild at the Etihad Stadium.
However, Alaba is no longer just a left-back these days. Indeed, he has instead become a key figure for Bayern at centre-back, playing 25 times in the position in the Bundesliga this season.
So if Chelsea do have Alaba in their sights, is it as a left-back, the Blues’ biggest problem position, or as a centre-back?
The emergence of Alphonso Davies at Bayern has been a factor in manager Hansi Flick pushing Alaba into the centre of defence.
The Canadian teenager is now arguably the best young full-back in the game, so even a Bayern hero like Alaba has had to make way.
And yet Alaba has still been one of Bayern’s players of the season. He has forged a formidable partnership with Jerome Boateng at the heart of the Bavarians’ defence, with the two complementing each other in ways few would have predicted. Alaba isn’t just the last line of defence for Bayern, but their first line of attack too.
He is crucial to the way the Bundesliga champions play further up the pitch, making an average of 1.3 key passes per appearance this season.
Years playing at left-back have prepared Alaba for his role as one of the deepest lying playmakers in the game, frequently springing Bayern into attack with a ball played over the top or into the channels.
His reading of the game is up there with the very best, but not just from a defensive point of view – he can spot runs and moves developing before almost anyone else. A full-back’s intuition in a centre-half is a useful trait.
Of course, central defence is also something of an issue for Chelsea, with Lampard far from settled on his first-choice centre-back pairing.
That is why the signing of Alaba, if the Austrian is available this summer, could be a shrewd move. It has the potential to kill two birds with one stone for the Blues, even giving them the option of playing a back three with Alaba as the left-sided centre-back.
Chelsea need a left-back and a centre-back. There’s nobody better than the Austrian to fulfil the brief.