Chelsea are strongly eyeing the prospect of signing French International Jonathan Clauss as a potential replacement for Cesar Azpilicueta if the Spanish International decides to leave the club for FC Barcelona.
WHY ARE CHELSEA INTERESTED IN HIM?
The Blues are in the midst of a defensive overhaul with Antonio Rudiger & Andreas Christensen leaving them on free transfers to Real Madrid and FC Barcelona respectively. Club captain Cesar Azpilicueta is also looking to exit the club and is looking to follow the Dane to Camp Nou with Marcos Alonso also agreeing terms with them. To lose four defensive personnel in one summer transfer window along with major changes in the backroom staff at the club, the Blues need some major signings through the door.
THE INCREDIBLE ‘FEEL GOOD’ STORY OF JONATHAN CLAUSS
Jonathan Clauss was an academy product of Ligue 1 outfit Racing Club de Strasbourg. He spent 13 years from 2000 to 2013 trying to get into the first team. Eventually, after playing for some lower league teams in France and Germany, he signed with Ligue 2 side Quevilly-Rouen. He made his professional debut for the club in a 3–2 loss to Châteauroux. After becoming a free agent, Clauss joined 2. Bundesliga side Arminia Bielefeld after impressing in trials.
After years of playing for lower league teams, Clauss finally got his big break when Lens offered him a three-year contract after they had just been promoted to the first tier of French football. At age of 28, Clauss played his first professional top-flight game. By the end of the season, Jonathan was named in the Ligue 1 team of the year by the Union Nationale des Footballeurs Professionels (UNFP) which included the likes of Neymar, Mbappe, Tchouaméni & Marquinhos. Far from one season hit Clauss, followed that up with another season where he was named in the team of the year and a call to the French national side by Didier Deschamps.
Clauss is a player who is also defined by mental strength. After failing to get into the Strasbourg first team he said,
“When I was told I wasn’t going to be kept on, it destroyed me at the time, but it also allowed me to get back up after falling down, I was disappointed, but I was able to realize that if I wanted to continue playing football, I had to put pleasure first.”
WHAT ARE THE TERMS OF THIS DEAL?
Jonathan Clauss is at the end of his deal with Lens in 2023 and has decided not to renew his deal. Les Sang et Or are looking for a fee in the region of around £10 million ($12m). Obviously, Chelsea are looking into this situation with strong interest but Spanish giants Atletico Madrid have also identified Clauss as a potential replacement for Olympiacos-bound Sime Vrsaljko.
WHAT KIND OF A PLAYER IS JONATHAN CLAUSS?
The 29-year-old is somewhat similar to the mold of the Brazilian great Cafu. A defender who likes to always play on the front foot, Clauss has an excellent attacking output and does not neglect his defensive duties. Only Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappé, and Rennes midfielder Benjamin Bourigeaud managed to outdo Jonathan Clauss in assists charts but all of them played teams who managed to score more than 82 goals this season and Clauss was playing in a side whose leading goal scorer was Arnaud Kalimuendo with 12 Ligue 1 goals.
If we look at his numbers in the 2021-22 season, the French international who was mainly deployed as a right wing-back in a 3-4-2-1 formation alongside midfielders Cheick Doucouré and Christopher Wooh, he managed to score five and assist a further 11 goals. Head coach Franck Haise has given the full license to bomb forward and make those vital passes into the final third. 3.7 tackles & interceptions is decent for a player who spends a lot of time in the opposition third. He is an exceptional interceptor of the ball which indicates his sense of positioning when he trying to defend.
COULD HE FIT AT CHELSEA?
The answer is absolutely yes! If Thomas Tuchel continues to deploy a 3-at-the-back system, then it will be such a great fit. Having played in the system in Lens it will not be a great problem integrating into this team. Wooh and Doucoure did a lot of dirty work for this team by mopping the midfield which allowed attacking players like Clauss to play with freedom and we can expect a similar situation at Chelsea. The Blues under Thomas Tuchel are one of the toughest teams to break down in entire Europe so Jonathan doesn’t have to work about his defensive output.
But he will be fighting one of the best full-backs/wing-backs in the world, Reece James. There will be plenty of minutes to be shared in the squad and given Reece’s patch injury record, Clauss can be assured to get a good amount of game time. He will also have to improve his passing as it just stands at 67.4% and in a team that will be dominant on the ball so much, he can afford to make mistakes, or else teams will punish his side.
Whether he will come to Chelsea or not, Clauss will be an excellent pickup for any club and surely deserves a chance to play amongst the elites of the game and with the World Cup being held at the end of the year, it gives him plenty of time to gain the spotlight so that maybe he gets to represent his nation at the biggest sport in the world!