Chelsea are exploring the transfer market for a centre-back after the news that Wesley Fofana will miss the majority of next season with a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament injury.
Fofana has sustained the knee issue during pre-season and the problem continues a wretched run of luck for the Frenchman, who has missed 126 days of action since signing for Chelsea from Leicester last summer.
Having already sold Kalidou Koulibaly, Fofana’s injury has led Chelsea to reassess the transfer market and we’ve selected five centre-backs who could improve the club’s defensive depth.
Maxence Lacroix – Wolfsburg
Maxence Lacroix could be the ideal addition in terms of profile for Chelsea, with the Wolfsburg centre-back possessing a blend of athletic attributes and potential that could make him a sensible signing.
The Frenchman is quick across the ground and capable of recovery runs to stop opposition attacks, perhaps the perfect compliment alongside the ageing Thiago Silva in central defence for Chelsea. In terms of statistics, Lacroix ranks highly when it comes to defensive actions on and off the ball.
He ranked 83nd percentile of defenders in Europe’s top leagues last season for aerials won and clearances, while also scoring highly for progressive passes (85th percentile) and successful take-ons (82nd percentile).
Still just 23, he boasts attributes that appear well-suited to the demands of the Premier League and has room to develop as part of Mauricio Pochettino’s youthful squad.
Jean-Clair Todibo – Nice
Premier League clubs have tracked the progress of Jean-Clair Todibo at Nice this season, with a number of England’s elite said to have scouted the centre-back. Todibo spent time at Barcelona as a teenager before settling at Nice, for who he has made 103 appearances across the last three seasons.
The 23-year-old received his first call up to the France national side in March after another impressive campaign in Ligue 1, one which saw Todibo rank in the elite bracket of centre-backs in Europe’s leading leagues for tackles (2.98) and successful take-ons (0.63) per game.
The 6ft 3in defender also impressed with high numbers of attempted passes, pass accuracy (88.5%), and progressive passes per 90 minutes last season, leading to speculation that he could be on the move this summer.
Harry Maguire – Manchester United
Harry Maguire is expected to leave Manchester United this summer and is understood to be on the radar of Chelsea.
Maguire revealed last week that Erik ten Hag had informed him that he would no longer be captain of Manchester United, the latest indication that the centre-back does not feature in the manager’s plans.
The 30-year-old made just eight Premier League starts last season after being dropped from the side and will be keen to regain form and favour to retain his place in the England squad ahead of next summer’s European Championship.
Maguire has been criticised during a challenging time at Manchester United and now appears the right time to move on. Still first-choice for Gareth Southgate and England, the 57-cap international would be an experienced replacement for Fofana as he looks to rebuild his confidence and career.
Benjamin Pavard – Bayern Munich
Benjamin Pavard is keen to leave Bayern Munich this summer and a host of English clubs are considering a move for the defender.
Pavard’s contract expires next summer and the Frenchman could be available for a cut-price fee of around £25m, a figure that Manchester City and Liverpool have been linked with meeting in recent weeks.
The 27-year-old has won four Bundesliga titles, the Champions League and World Cup during a decorated career, while his versatility in being comfortable in central defence and at right-back adds to his appeal.
Fofana occupied the right centre-back role in a back three system last season, while the departure of Cesar Azpilicueta also opens up a need for additional depth in a right-sided role.
The underlying numbers indicate Pavard could be the perfect solution, with the defender ranking in the 99th percentile of defenders in Europe’s top leagues for attempted passes and progressive passes last season, and in the 91st percentile or higher for progressive carries and tackles per 90 minutes.
Axel Disasi – Monaco
Axel Disasi is another defender currently courted by England’s elite clubs and Chelsea could look to enter the race for the Monaco centre-back.
Disasi has made 129 appearances across three seasons at Monaco and his form last season saw the defender break into the France squad.
The 25-year-old is an imposing physical presence and became the first player to debut for France at a World Cup since 1966 in Qatar last winter, forming part of the squad that reached the tournament’s final.
Disasi is progressive on the ball and ranked in the 96th percentile of centre-backs in Europe’s top leagues for progressive passes and progressive carries last season, while ranking highly for successful take-ons (93rd percentile), attacking penalty area touches (93rd percentile) and interceptions per 90 (86th percentile).
He could be an ideal option to provide the run and carry in possession that Fofana brought last season, with Disasi’s 1.7 progressive carries per game comparative Fofana’s numbers (2.2).