Chelsea's shopping list for the summer got longer last Saturday when reports emerged that Antonio Rudiger would be leaving the club in the summer. The German has a few months left on his contract and he rejected a contract of more than £200,000 a week offer before the sanctions, as reported by the Telegraph.
Andreas Christensen is also set to leave the club while there are question marks over Cesar Azpilicueta's future as well as per the Express. This leaves Tuchel with a defensive crisis to resolve.
Levi Colwill, the 19-year-old left-footed centre-back on loan at Huddersfield Town, is having a stellar season. Jules Koundé could be one of the centre-backs that could come in the summer, as reported by Football London. Given all this, Chelsea would still need one more centre-back. Below we look at the two promising centre-backs and what they would bring to this Chelsea team.
Chelsea's Long Term Option - Joško Gvardiol
Joško Gvardiol is a 20-year-old Croatian centre-back who plays for Bundesliga club RB Leipzig. He signed for Leipzig last summer from Dinamo Zagreb for €19 million on a five-year contract until 2026. The 20-year-old has also made 10 appearances for the Croatian national team. At this early stage in his career, he is a mainstay in Leipzig’s team and for his country.
Gvardiol is a pacy and physical defender who loves getting forward. He averages 0.87 shots per 90 in the Bundesliga, which means that he averages almost a shot per game. The Croat is an adept passer of the ball with a total distance of progressive passes sitting at 14,053 yards. He thrives in possession and likes to get into the opposition penalty box.
Defensively, Gvardiol has won 33 tackles so far this Bundesliga campaign, which led to the team winning possession. He has a successful pressure percentage of 37.4% as well. The 20-year-old also stands out with 88 interceptions, a high amongst several reputable defenders. However, he does seem to struggle against dribblers and needs improvement in that area.
Gvardiol would be a solid option with room for development. One potential issue would be his price considering his contract at Leipzig is until 2026. The Bundesliga club will be under no pressure to sell the defender. A sizeable bid could get the Red Bulls to sell, but that would be around £40-50 million. Not a bad sum to pay for someone with such a high ceiling.
Another problem in the short term would be Levi Colwill. The youngster, similar to Gvardiol, is left-footed, plays the same position, and is also a year younger than the Croatian. Unlike the Croatian, Colwill will come for free. If Gvardiol and Colwill were to remain, there could be room for rotation, and Gvardiol could also play as a left-back. The introduction of five substitutions means more minutes will be available.
As per Football London, there is news that Thomas Tuchel admires Gvardiol, and Chelsea might want to be proactive in this case. In the long term, having both Gvardiol and Colwill, along with Jules Koundé and Trevoh Chalobah, would be a brilliant quartet of options. It remains to be seen whether Chelsea can pry him away from Leipzig this summer.
A Familiar Figure - Matthias Ginter
Matthias Ginter, the 28-year-old German centre-back, plays for Borussia Monchengladbach in the Bundesliga. Ginter made his debut for Freiburg in 2012 and was sold to Borussia Dortmund in 2014 following Germany’s triumph at the World Cup. At Dortmund, he spent a season under Jurgen Klopp and one under Thomas Tuchel, playing as a left centre-back in the back three.
Ginter would be an adept option for Tuchel. The 28-year-old has an eye for a goal, taking 1.19 shots per 90 and a progressive distance of 10635 yards with his passing, and he does well under pressure. Ginter has won 32 tackles this Bundesliga season and has done well against the dribblers. A successful pressure percentage of 38.4% puts him above Gvardiol, although he only has 46 interceptions.
Ginter is similar to Gvardiol in possession, and he likes to enter the opposition half on occasion. Ginter is a no-nonsense German defender. His goal-line clearances and his ability to be the last man behind the keeper have earned him great fame in the Bundesliga. With 46 appearances for the German national team, he is also an established international.
The best thing about the 2014 FIFA World Cup winner is that he will be a free agent in the summer. Ginter's contract also runs out this summer. Considering Chelsea will have to buy a few players this summer, a free transfer or two would be good business.
Another aspect is that it would give Levi Colwill more confidence in his long-term future at Chelsea. However, as explained in Gvardiol’s situation, there will be plenty of room and rotation in defense at Chelsea. Ginter would bring experience, and with Rudiger, Andreas Christensen, and possibly even Cesar Azpilicueta leaving the club, there will be a lack of it.
So, who is the better option? In terms of reliability, both are excellent choices and rarely miss a game. Gvardiol is the more exciting option, given he is younger and has a certain flair about him. Ginter is a safe option and has worked with Tuchel before. Perhaps pre-season will give us a better gage of what happens.
Kounde could be the first transfer under new ownership at Chelsea, as reported by Graeme Bailey. During pre-season, Colwill could impress Tuchel, and maybe that could influence Tuchel's decision. It will be a summer of change at Chelsea Football Club once again, and the club will have to be sensible with its business.
Q. Who would be a better fit?
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