sport news Chelsea: How Matthijs de Ligt, Kalidou Koulibaly and other defensive targets ... trends now

sport news Chelsea: How Matthijs de Ligt, Kalidou Koulibaly and other defensive targets ... trends now
sport news Chelsea: How Matthijs de Ligt, Kalidou Koulibaly and other defensive targets ... trends now

sport news Chelsea: How Matthijs de Ligt, Kalidou Koulibaly and other defensive targets ... trends now

Romelu Lukaku's departure means a new forward is essential, but for Chelsea the most pressing area of concern this summer comes in defence.

With Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen gone - the former leaving a gaping hole after starting 34 league matches last season - Thomas Tuchel knows strengthening defensively is his biggest priority in the coming months if they are to seriously compete for the title next season.

The Blues have a number of centre-backs in their sights, including Juventus' Matthijs de Ligt, Sevilla's Jules Kounde and Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly.

Chelsea need defensive recruits after losing Andreas Christensen (L) and Antonio Rudiger (R)

Chelsea need defensive recruits after losing Andreas Christensen (L) and Antonio Rudiger (R)

Thomas Tuchel knows strengthening at the back is essential for the Blues this summer

Thomas Tuchel knows strengthening at the back is essential for the Blues this summer

Some are likelier to head to Stamford Bridge than others, while Tuchel may even need to add more than one to his ranks - but which players should they prioritise?

Sportsmail has taken a look at Chelsea's main defensive targets this summer and run the rule over them statistically, with the help of data from WhoScored.com

Matthijs de Ligt (Juventus)

The Holland international has been an ever-present at the heart of Juve's defence since joining from Ajax in 2019, featuring 117 times over the previous three campaigns.

Last season he racked up 2,675 minutes for Massimiliano Allegri's side, starting 29 league games while chipping in with three goals and one assist.

From an aerial standpoint, De Ligt is one of the strongest options Tuchel has on the table.

On average he won four headers per game in the 2021/22 campaign, making every bit of his 6ft 2in frame count in Turin.

Juventus centre-back Matthijs de Ligt has emerged as one of Chelsea's top defensive targets

Juventus centre-back Matthijs de Ligt has emerged as one of Chelsea's top defensive targets

The Dutchman is a force in the air, winning four aerial duels per match for Juve last season

The Dutchman is a force in the air, winning four aerial duels per match for Juve last season

He recorded 1.1 tackles per game, while also averaging 0.7 blocks, 0.8 interceptions and 3.1 clearances.

With the ball at his feet De Ligt was also on form, completing 54.5 passes per match - which works out as a pass percentage of 89.

His disciplinary record is nothing to worry about, with two yellow cards and a subsequent sending off his only cards last year. And in terms of injuries, he has only missed 26 matches because of fitness problems over the last five years. 

The 22-year-old also has age on his side and could therefore prove a defensive stalwart at Stamford Bridge for the best part of a decade.

What's the latest?

As Sportsmail revealed earlier this week, De Ligt is keen on a move to Chelsea this summer, however Juventus want to drive the price up for their star defender as much as possible.

While they are hoping to land him for around £65million, the Blues have so far failed to make a breakthrough in discussions with Juve after going back and forth with offers.

There is also now serious competition to contend with from Bayern Munich, who have moved ahead of them in the race for his signature. The German club's head coach Julian Nagelsmann and sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic have held talks with De Ligt. 

As a result, Chelsea may be forced to turn their attention elsewhere.     

But worryingly for Chelsea, Bayern Munich have moved ahead of them in the race for De Ligt

But worryingly for Chelsea, Bayern Munich have moved ahead of them in the race for De Ligt

Jules Kounde (Sevilla)

A long-term target for the club, Kounde is hugely admired at Chelsea after emerging as one of the standout defenders in European football over the past few seasons.

The France defender has made 95 league appearances since heading to Sevilla in 2019, 32 of which came in the previous campaign.

Across his 2,738 minutes last term, Kounde stacks up to De Ligt unfavourably in the heading department, winning just 2.4 aerial duels per game compared to the latter's four.

He has the slight edge when it comes to tackles, producing 1.3 per game in 2021/22, yet his average of 0.7 interceptions and 0.6 blocks was marginally lower. They were both on hand with 3.1 clearances per 90 minutes.

When it comes to passing, Kounde is the more impressive after registering a superior 65.6 passes per game and the same pass completion of 89 per cent.

Sevilla defender Jules Kounde has been a long-term target for Tuchel in his time at Chelsea

Sevilla defender Jules Kounde has been a long-term target for Tuchel in his time at Chelsea

The 23-year-old also got on the scoresheet twice and provided as many assists, though his discipline is perhaps a concern given he picked up two red cards.

While he was forced to undergo surgery on a pelvis issue last summer, Kounde is yet to miss a large period of matches through injury since bursting onto the scene at Bordeaux in 2018.

What's the latest?

Kounde was a major target for Chelsea last year, but this summer the club have been prioritising alternative options.

According to Spanish outlet Marca, Sevilla are concerned by his current transfer situation, as no offers have come in so far despite the player's willingness to leave.

Barcelona are also circling, with the Catalans entering advanced talks to sign the £55million-rated star last month

A move to Stamford Bridge therefore appears unlikely right now, yet if Chelsea miss out on their top targets they could be forced to revert back to Kounde. 

But this summer the Blues have been prioritising alternative options to the 23-year-old

But this summer the Blues have been prioritising alternative options to the 23-year-old

Kounde is also a target for Barcelona, who entered advanced talks to sign him last month

Kounde is also a target for Barcelona, who entered advanced talks to sign him last month

Nathan Ake (Manchester City)

Last season the City outcast was not used as frequently as other defenders in this list, enjoying just 921 minutes of Premier League football for Pep Guardiola's champions. 

A measly tally of 14 appearances means his statistics carry less

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