Frank Lampard has had a roller-coaster first season as Chelsea manager. The euphoric highs have been accompanied by some devastating lows as well. While there is much to congratulate Frank and his players for, there is one huge issue which has plagued their season and prevented a good season from being a great one- their defense. While Chelsea have been great in attack this season despite losing Eden Hazard, their defense has let them down time and time again. Kurt Zouma looks like an empty shell of his 2015 self and while he has had moments of brilliance, lapses in concentration have proved costly for the club. While healthy rivalry can be a great motivator for players and their clubs, the rivalry between Christensen and Rudiger has been anything but. Each week’s dreadful performance was surpassed the following week, in what could be seen as a satire of the Messi Ronaldo rivalry. The way both parties have played made it seem like they were hell-bent on figuring out who’s worse. Howler after howler and mistakes after mistakes have caused the gaffer to lose all hope in the center backs and look to the transfer market to solve the club’s defensive woes. Let’s take a look at Chelsea’s options:
The towering center half has been one of Brighton’s best players this season and strong links have emerged linking Dunk to the Blues. He fits Chelsea’s profile of technically adept, physical center back. His great positioning and aerial prowess is complimented by very good passing. Dunk is good at distributing the ball and starting attacks from the back. At 28 years of age and entering his prime, his strength, height and positioning make him a very capable option but one thing that might prove to be a downside, is his pace, or lack thereof.
One of my personal favorites, Declan Rice is on Chelsea’s shortlist as well. At just 21 years of age, he is already one of the best defensive players in the league. Primarily playing as a DM, he started his career as a center back and his game shows many attributes of a promising center half. While defending, he drops back into the defensive line and marshals the defense around him. His ball carrying ability, distribution, tackling, physical stature, strength and age make him one of, if not the best option for Chelsea (in my opinion). While there is a legitimate concern of whether he will be able to transition from CDM to center back, Frank Lampard has seen enough to know that he would be a great fit in the system. At just 21 years of age, he has his entire career ahead of him and Chelsea (the club Rice supports and the club whose academy he came through) would be a great fit for him. There is just one small issue. David Moyes has put an 80 million pound price tag on Rice and that might be a little too exorbitant even for the biggest Rice fans like myself.
Another option for Chelsea is in the form of English defender Ben White. White was on loan at Leeds United where he performed brilliantly as Leeds placed first in the Championship. His brilliant performances have not gone unnoticed as Manchester United and Liverpool have displayed interest. It is believed that his parent club, Brighton may be willing to sell if they were to receive a good enough offer. His combination of pace and tackling is somewhat reminiscent of a young Rio Ferdinand. Chelsea have been linked with him and while it is not as concrete as the Lewis Dunk links, Ben White could be a good acquisition for the Blues.
With Declan Rice being quoted at 80 million and the other 2 being closer to the 40 million mark, if Chelsea do reinforce their defense, a Marina masterclass would be hugely helpful.