Chelsea eyeing swoop for 20-year-old star as potential replacement for Cesar Azpilicueta - Reports

[L-to-R] Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel and Cesar Azpilicueta
[L-to-R] Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel and Cesar Azpilicueta

Premier League giants Chelsea are reportedly looking at RB Leipzig centre-back Josko Gvardiol to replace veteran defender Cesar Azpilicueta.

According to The Sun, Gvardiol is the Blues' primary target to take Azpilicueta's place in the squad. The Spaniard has been consistently linked with a move to Barcelona this summer, with the report adding that the English side want £7 million for the 32-year-old.

Gvardiol notably joined Leipzig from Dinamo Zagreb only last summer. The 20-year-old made 42 appearances across all competitions for the Bundesliga side in the 2021-22 season, scoring two goals and laying out three assists.

🙄🔚 Azpilicueta más fuera que dentroSegún The Sun, Josko Gvardiol está entre los objetivos del Chelsea para reforzar su retaguardia ante la cada vez más probable salida del defensor español.…

As per Transfermarkt, Gvardiol is valued at €35 million. He still has four years left on his deal with Leipzig, which will likely give the German club plenty of control over the transfer fee for the player.

The Sun's report indicated, however, that Chelsea are keen to add three central defenders to their squad this summer. The Blues have already brought in Kalidou Koulibaly, while they are reportedly "confident" of securing French defender Jules Kounde (as per Fabrizio Romano).

Gvardiol, who has impressed over the course of his short career, could be a valuable third addition for both the present and future. However, he will have big shoes to fill if signed as a replacement for Azpilicueta.

The Spaniard has made a mammoth 474 appearances across all competitions since arriving at Stamford Bridge in 2012. Azpilicueta has also lifted every available major trophy, including the Premier League, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and FA Cup.

Chelsea off to lukewarm start in preseason

Chelsea are currently in the United States for their pre-season preparations. Thomas Tuchel's men have played two matches so far, winning one and losing the other on penalties.

The Blues opened their pre-season campaign with a 2-1 win against Club America at the Allegiant Stadium. Timo Werner put them ahead in the second half before their opponents equalized via a Reece James own-goal. Mason Mount then scored the winner in the 83rd minute.

In their second game against Charlotte FC, Tuchel's men took the lead around the half-hour mark thanks to Christian Pulisic's goal. They seemed to be heading for a second win on the bounce but conceded a penalty in second-half injury time.

The game went to penalties and Conor Gallagher's miss proved costly as Charlotte converted all of their spot-kicks to win the shootout 5-3.

Our goalscorer on tonight's game and looking ahead to our final #FCSeries match this weekend. ⤵️#BluesInTheUSA

Next up, Chelsea will take on Arsenal in the Florida Cup final before heading back to Europe for a friendly against Serie A outfit Udinese.

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Edited by Sankalp Srivastava
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