According to Simon Phillips, Chelsea are interested in signing Atalanta full-back Joakim Maehle if the full-back duo of Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso leave the club for FC Barcelona this summer.
The Blues have had a frustrating summer transfer window as their primary targets Jules Kounde and Raphinha were both snatched at the eleventh hour by Barcelona. This is despite the club agreeing on fees with both Sevilla and Leeds United resp. and in the case of Jules Kounde, the club had even agreed personal terms last summer.
So, now Chelsea have started scouting different options and with the possibility of Alonso and Azpilicueta leaving the club and Tuchel clearly calling for ‘quality additions’, the club have identified Joakim Maehle as a potential replacement on both flanks.
WHO IS JOAKIM MAEHLE?
Born in Østervrå, Vendsyssel in northern Denmark, Mæhle started playing football with local club Østervrå IF and moved to the AaB youth academy as a 12-year-old. Aged 19, he received a call-up to the first team making his debut as a substitute replacing Thomas Enevoldsen in the 89th minute in a 2–1 victory against FC Nordsjælland in the Danish Superliga.
Genk saw his potential and brought him in as a replacement for right-back Timothy Castagne, who had moved to Atlanta. Despite a tough first year, Joakim worked his way into the first team and was an integral part of the team that won the Belgian championship in his second full season. Atalanta once again swooped in to bring one of Genk’s prized possession on a five-year contract for a fee of €10 million.
Post a decent first year in Bergamo, Mæhle’s real qualities were fully on display not for Atalanta but for his national team Denmark in the postponed UEFA Euro 2020. His outside-of-the-foot cross for Denmark’s second goal against the Czech Republic was one of the finest pieces of skill in the entire tournament. Even though he should have made into the official Team of the Tournament, Goal.com included him as their right-back for their squad.
WHAT COULD HE BRING TO CHELSEA?
Well, he would be a great cover for Ben Chilwell and Reece James, as he has the ability to cover both flanks. He even plays in defensive midfield positions if required by his team. Also, his defensive nature could also see him land a spot in Tuchel’s three-at-the-back system at Chelsea. He also has a great end product and crossing ability which could supplement the Chelsea attack.
Through Joakim’s numbers, we can see that he is not great at one area of the game but he is very decent in every area which is a great quality for a player who probably plays 20-25 games a season in various positions. Tuchel can be used in various spots to his advantage.
WHAT IS THE ASKING PRICE FOR MAEHLE?
Atalanta wants around €15million for the full-back. Despite Maehle’s qualities, he is not fully integrated into the side as Gian Piero Gasperini is unable to fully utilize his potential. Gian likes full-backs with opposite qualities in his team and Joakim Maehle and Zappacosta duo as a full-back partnership have failed to bring the best out of each other.
West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur are also interested in acquiring his services. A player of his quality is currently undervalued at Bergamo and bringing him would be a step-up from playing Azpi and Alonso as Chelsea’s full-back cover. So this is a deal that will definitely strengthen and improve the squad’s quality.