Chelsea will look to bolster their central defence this summer and have drawn up a three-man shortlist of transfer targets, with Kurt Zouma likely offloaded to make way.
A new centre-back was on Frank Lampard’s agenda last summer, though he had to settle for veteran free agent Thiago Silva, and successor Thomas Tuchel is also keen to bolster his backline despite an excellent defensive record.
According to The Athletic, the club are looking to sign an ‘imposing’ leader at the back and have identified three players who fit the bill.
Top of their wish-list is Bayern Munich’s towering centre-back Niklas Sule, though the German champions would be extremely reluctant to let him leave particularly with David Alaba departing when his contract expires this summer.
Another option being looked at is Atletico Madrid’s Jose Gimenez, who has thrived for Diego Simeone’s side once again this season, though the Spanish league leaders would demand a massive fee.
Chelsea are also keen on another Bundesliga centre-back, RB Leipzig’s Ibrahima Konate, with the Frenchman also on the radar of Manchester United.
If Chelsea manage to bring in a new top-class centre-back, at least one of their existing defenders will need to be offloaded to make room.
That leaves Kurt Zouma as the most ‘sellable asset’ and Chelsea have tried to sell him in the past, though Lampard was adamant he should stay and the 26-year-old was in fine form at the start of the campaign.
But he has been handed just two appearances under Tuchel – who doubts his ball-playing abilities – and is now effectively the fifth choice centre-back option behind Thiago Silva, Rudiger, Christensen and even Cesar Azpilicueta.
Although he only has two years left on his current contract, Chelsea would hope to get a sizeable fee for Zouma in addition to the £24.2m buy option they hope AC Milan will trigger for Fikayo Tomori.
Tuchel has always been keen to give players a chance to impress him and a couple of youngsters currently on loan, Marc Guehi at Swansea and Ethan Ampadu at Sheffield United, will have an opportunity to show they deserve to be in the mix during pre-season.