Thomas Tuchel saw his Chelsea side slip to a second consecutive 1-0 defeat on Wednesday, as Juventus’ edged the Blues in the Champions League, but Tuchel could have an even bigger problem in his back-line
Thomas Tuchel is often as animated and vocal on the sidelines, as he is meticulous and innovative in his strategy.
But as he watched his Chelsea side peter towards a second consecutive 1-0 defeat, he cut a forlorn, perplexed figure on the sidelines in Turin.
Federico Chiesa’s goal barely 15 seconds into the first half was enough for Juventus to seal a priceless 1-0 victory over the Blues.
The normally structured, physical, and reactive Blues wall appeared to wilt like a cheap windbreak, as Adrien Rabiot easily flicked a long ball onto Federico Bernadeschi, who fed his namesake and Italian compatriot Chiesa to hammer home the first goal.
Antonio Rudiger was the only man in Blue to touch the ball before the goal hit the back of the net – unfortunately the contact was a slight deflection which took the ball away from Edouard Mendy in the Blues’ goal.
After Juventus found the holes in Chelsea’s watertight defence, they dropped back and ensured they had plugged all of theirs’.
They even added an extra layer of concrete by introducing England’s nemesis Giorgio Chiellini in the dying minutes. His entrance may as well have sounded the final whistle.
Chelsea’s rock-solid defence and Lukaku’s predatory finishing means they will always have a chance to win, even when performing badly.
Unfortunately for the Blues, Malang Sarr and Trevoh Chalobah could be their only two central defenders’ next season, and the latter was brought on against Juventus, and deployed as a central midfielder.
Captain Cesar Azpilicueta, the experienced Thiago Silva, warrior defender Antonio Rudiger, and the promising Andreas Christensen will all be out of contract by June 30 .
Christensen, by far, looks the most promising to pen his future to the club as he has already said Stamford Bridge feels like “home”.
Unfortunately, Rudiger is reportedly demanding £180,000 per week according to the Sun, and Azpilicueta and Silva are both well into their 30s.
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A central defence exodus is on the horizon at the Stamford Bridge, and urgent reinforcements could be needed.
And Tuchel has already had a good look at one potential option who was described as “fantastic” by Owen Hargreaves.
Villarreal central defender Pau Torres enjoyed another impressive display for Unai Emery’s side against Manchester United.
The 24-year-old may have found himself on the losing side in dramatic fashion, but his stock continues to rise amid a strong showing last season and during Euro 2020.
“Fantastic player, think he’s only 24, I’m quite surprised he’s still at Villarreal,” said Hargreaves.
“English teams were looking at him, I think everyone was talking about Man United and even Real Madrid, I think his potential is literally that high, he’s got a fabulous left foot, great in possession, fantastic player so I don’t think he’ll be at Villarreal very long.”
He formed a rock-solid partnership with Manchester City defender Aymeric Laporte as Spain were only a penalty shootout away from reaching a third European Championship final.
Tuchel also got the perfect opportunity to watch him pitch-side during Chelsea’s dramatic Super Cup final victory against Emery’s side.
Villarreal’s Europa League triumph last season was built on the foundations of a rock-solid defence, and he was the beating heart of the unit alongside the experienced Raul Albiol.
But like all nice things, Torres will come with a huge price tag.
According to SPORT, he carries a buyout clause believed to be around £54m.
Fortunately for the Blues, he is considerably cheaper than summer transfer target Jules Kounde, who looked to be joining the Blues for around £43m, until Sevilla changed their mind and demanded his buy-out clause of around £68m was paid instead.
Tuchel’s transfer approach this season was refined and targeted, but Chelsea is now faced with the prospect of all four central defenders who starred in the Champions League final triumph, all departing the club for nothing.
The transfer scatter gun used in Frank Lampard’s final summer at Chelsea could well be brought out of director Marina Granovskaia’s office.
However, the potentially departing free transfers could perhaps be replaced by other free transfers.
Niklas Sule of Bayern Munich and Alessandro Romagnoli of AC Milan, both former transfer targets of the Blues, will both be free agents next summer, unless a new contract can be agreed with their respective clubs.
Of course, new contracts for Rudiger, Christensen, Silva, and Azpilicueta could still be agreed in the eight months left of their contracts.
But, you can be certain Tuchel will be after clarity on their futures and Chelsea’s transfer objectives.
After-all, you cannot build a Champions League winning defensive wall without any bricks.