Under the new management of Antonio Conte, who is set to take charge of Chelsea after concluding his commitments with Italy in Euro 2016, the Blues aim to revive their lost glory.
The Italian boss has earmarked the problems that have severely hindered their progress. He has instructed the club that defence is an area that needs strengthening, and has made it his priority to sign at least one big name for the back four.
Roma ace Antonio Rudiger was being touted as the primary candidate to sign for Chelsea this summer, but an anterior cruciate ligament injury to the defender during training for Germany now puts the move in jeopardy.
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However, the former Premier League champions must have contingency plans in place, and will inevitably pursue other alternatives.
We look at the five possible options the Blues could consider as they desperately seek a solution to their defensive issues.
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Shkodran Mustafi (Valencia)
Shkodran Mustafi experienced a forgettable season at Valencia last season, similar to the events at Chelsea, but the La Liga side’s shortcomings cannot be solely blamed on the German international.
He is already familiar with the English top-flight, having come through the youth system at Everton, despite failing to make a single senior team appearance.
Mustafi signed for Sampdoria after leaving the Merseyside club, before sealing a move to Valencia two years ago, where he made tremendous improvements which transpired to interests from many European heavyweights.
Astute at set-piece situations, he scored a sublime header to open the scoreline for Germany against Ukraine, helping the team to open their campaign in style.
Would make a quality addition to any side he represents.
Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli)
The Senegalese star had a breakthrough season with Napoli in Serie A that prompted European clubs to keep a tab on him.
Kalidou Koulibaly’s performance at the heart of the defence for the Naples-based side garnered accolades from experts throughout the 2015-16 season.
His versatility and adaptability to any situation brings depth and dynamics to the squad, and he is capable of operating as a centre-back, as well as a right-back and holding midfielder if necessary.
Chelsea have reportedly expressed their inclination to sign him in the coming months, but Napoli president Aurelio de Laurentiis has warned the Blues they will take the legal route if they pursue Koulibaly in an unjust manner, causing infringements to their contract with the player, as claimed by ESPN.
The scenario would be much clearer once Conte arrives at Stamford Bridge.
Marquinhos (Paris Saint-Germain)
The 22-year-old is deemed to be a sensation for both club and country, but at PSG the lack of first-team football is compelling him to consider his options.
Chelsea have had a longstanding interest to lure Marquinhos to west London, but also face stiff competition from their European rivals Barcelona.
The French champions are unwilling to entertain any offers, be it of any magnitude, as there is set to be a significant change in the staff at Parc des Princes with manager Laurent Blanc being replaced by former Sevilla boss Unai Emery.
With a new coach, the club officials are convinced they can persuade the Brazilian centre-back to stay put.
However, the Brazilian would make a perfect candidate to enhance the quality of any squad.
Kostas Manolas (AS Roma)
Italian side Roma will invariably lose the services of at least one player to Chelsea, with as many as three first-team stars on the Blues' shortlist this summer.
Kostas Manolas is hailed as an excellent all-round defender, bestowed with great speed and interception skills.
Ranked as one of the most versatile centre-halves of the modern era, Manolas’ composure on the ball and innate anticipation qualities are of a premier level.
The Greek international could also be viewed as a long-term successor to club veteran John Terry.
Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus)
It is unquestionable that Antonio Conte will try and raid his former club Juventus for potential transfer targets, and Leonardo Bonucci is one such name on the list of the Londoners.
Bonucci came into the limelight under the mentorship of Conte while at Juventus and he credits his emergence to the world stage to the Italian boss.
The 46-year-old manager is known to conduct his transfer business early, in order to ensure his squad gets time to settle in their new environment.
After initially dismissing talks of a possible reunion at Chelsea, Bonucci refused to rule out a move away from Turin in the last month, as per Evening Standard.
The news will come as a huge relief for the former English champions, and despite having four years left on his current contract, Conte could be the catalyst that would prove to be pivotal in acquiring Bonucci from Juventus in the coming months.
Which defender would be ideal for Chelsea? Have YOUR say by leaving a comment below!
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