5 Champions League contenders and their centre-backs issues
Traditionally, centre-backs have been some of the most important players in title-winning teams. The solidity, resolute defending and leadership (as well as occasional goalscoring) they offer have played central roles in teams that have won Ole-Big Ears (as the UCL trophy is called).
Sergio Ramos was front and centre in Real Madrid’s three-peat (2016-2018), Virgil van Dijk was key to Liverpool’s title triumph in June. The list of centre-backs who have been very important in a UCL-winning team is long and very illustrious: Alessandro Nesta, Matthias Sammer, John Terry, Nemanja Vidic, Carles Puyol, Jerome Boateng and so on.
A lot of the big sides who are favoured to win the UCL title next season have certain issues as regards their central defences. Some have lost stalwarts due to resignation while others have had players move on to other clubs.
A few of these have already addressed these issues; Eder Militao to Real Madrid, Mats Hummels to Borussia Dortmund the outstanding ones.
Due to these and other reasons, some of the potential winners for the title will need to recruit for the central defensive areas. Here is a look at 5 of such clubs:
It is still unclear if the Blues will be allowed to sign players in this transfer window given their provisional ban. However, they are appealing the ban but may not be able to get it lifted in time to do any business.
If it is lifted in time, the club is looking at a significant need for improvement in the central areas. David Luiz, Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen and Gary Cahill occupied the two centre-back positions under Maurizio Sarri last season.
However, much has changed. Sarri has left to join Juventus, Cahill has been let go and Christensen is angling for a move after getting little play time last season. At the moment, there is no manager (Frank Lampard is thought to be the favourite).
If the ban is upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), the central defence for the team next season will probably look like this; Luiz, Rudiger, Christensen (if he stays) and Kurt Zouma. This is not a defence that will trouble the elite of Europe though.
If allowed to sign someone, the Blues may look once again at Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly to act as the spring board for a renewed side (much like van Dijk did for Liverpool) or someone like Bayer Leverkusen’s Jonathan Tah.