Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho is reported to have made an attempt to sign Raphael Varane from Real Madrid during the summer transfer window given the doubts he had over Kurt Zouma, a January acquisition from Saint-Etienne.
Zouma was signed by Chelsea for around £12 million in the winter window but was allowed to complete the season in Ligue 1 before finalising his transfer to Stamford Bridge at the end of the campaign.
However, it is claimed by the Daily Express that Zouma’s performances during his early days as a Chelsea player, during which he committed some notable errors, led Mourinho to consider his defensive options.
Mourinho’s doubts over Zouma’s credentials reportedly prompted an enquiry to be made regarding the potential availability of Varane - a player who was signed by Real Madrid while former was in charge at the Santiago Bernabeu.
This approach, however, was immediately knocked back with the France international considered an important part of Real Madrid’s future plans. Varane, who Rio Ferdinand recently claimed could be worth £70 million, has since signed a new long-term contract.
Mourinho, however, was unable to address his defensive concerns. Zouma aside, Chelsea still do have three centre-backs of repute in John Terry, Gary Cahill and Branislav Ivanovic, but it is an area they are expected to address in time.
Terry and Cahill remain the club’s first-choice pairing in the centre, but Chelsea have not defended well this season having kept only one clean sheet so far. Hardly a hallmark of a Mourinho team.
If Mourinho is unsure over Zouma then Chelsea will, at some point, have to recruit a long-term replacement for Terry, who turns 34 in December. There are, however, few available quality options - something Manchester United found out over the summer.
Eliaquim Mangala, a player long linked with Chelsea, moved to Manchester City while Varane, of course, will remain in Madrid for some time yet. But there are doubts over Gerard Pique’s future with Barcelona, while Mats Hummels will surely leave Borussia Dortmund at some point.
Following Frank Lampard’s departure Chelsea were able to act decisively to sign a successor in Cesc Fabregas. It will be interesting to see if they are able to do the same once Terry bows out.