The Blues have identified back-up target if they can’t land Leicester City’s Ben Chilwell in the summer.
There is no doubt Chelsea will be a great source of speculation ahead of the summer transfer window. The Blues surprisingly did not add any player to their squad in January, despite manager Frank Lampard’s public plea to the board. But they were successful in appealing the two-window ban in December.
The Daily Mail released a list of thirteen players that Chelsea will target ahead of next season. The likes of Jadon Sancho, Wilfred Zaha, Nick Pope, Ben Chilwell are high on that list. However, one surprise addition is Bournemouth’s left-back Diego Rico, who is seen as an alternative to Chilwell.
The Blues are adamant to land Ben Chilwell from Leicester City this summer. But the Foxes won’t want to lose their key defender with a return to the Champions League on the horizon.
Chelsea need a new left-back
The Blues have found themselves dependent on Marcos Alonso this season due to Emerson’s injury problems. While the Spaniard offers a potent attacking threat, he is defensively very suspect, to say the least. He has contributed to one goal and 2 assists in just under 600 minutes this season. But it is his defensive output which is questionable.
In recent weeks, club-captain Cesar Azpilicueta has moved to a left-back position, with 19-year-old Reece James filling in at right-back, such is Lampard’s problem. While Azpilicueta is an able deputy, he will turn 31 in August. His slow pace against league’s tricky wingers is a huge disadvantage to Lampard’s side.
The fact of the matter is that Chelsea have just two senior left-backs and both of them are sub-par. As a consequence of that, the five-time Premier League winners are in need of a new left-back, with Chilwell and Diego Rico linked with a move to the Stamford Bridge.
How Ben Chilwell is a perfect fit
Ben Chilwell has enjoyed an impressive season. The Leicester academy graduate has helped Brendan Rodgers’s men put themselves in contention for a Champions League spot. He has also cemented his place as England’s first-choice left-back.
The 23-year-old has started 20 of Leicester’s 25 games in the league. Defensively, he averages 1.2 interceptions and 2.2 clearances per match. Going forward, the Englishman has scored 2 and provided 3 assists this season. He averages 1.2 key passes per match and his pinpoint crossing causes havoc in the opponent’s defence. Chilwell’s natural left-foot allows him to operate comfortably in tight 3v2’s that develop in professional cycles in lateral spaces. His sharp touch matched by tactical awareness in these situations often sees Chilwell create space with fast ‘one-two’ interchanges.
Chilwell has a contract running till 2024. He would offer Lampard a permanent solution. With Manchester City also linked with the defender, he would likely cost upwards of £50 million. As a result, Lampard and his recruitment staff are lining up a back-up option.
Diego Rico is a good Chilwell alternative
The 26-year-old joined the Cherries from Leganes in 2018. He has been regular for a struggling Bournemouth side this season. One of his main attributes is his crossing ability. The former Zaragoza man offers an outlet on the left, similar to Reece James’ attacking ability on the right. With over 100 crosses made, the full-back could perhaps have had more than two assists had he been playing for a more prolific side.
Defensively, the Spaniard is impressive as well. His interceptions and tackling offer another plus point if Lampard considers him as a serious option.
Rico may be a cheaper option than Leicester’s Chilwell and would allow Lampard to use more of his funds in other areas of the squad.