Chelsea con­sider Gimenez to shore up leaky de­fence

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport Football - By Matt Law

Chelsea have scouted Atletico Madrid de­fender Jose Gimenez as Frank Lam­pard as­sesses his op­tions should he choose to make changes to his cen­tral de­fend­ers this sum­mer. Lam­pard will need to off­load at least one cen­tre-back if he wants to make a new sign­ing in the po­si­tion.

Chelsea’s de­fen­sive de­fi­cien­cies were again on show at An­field on Wed­nes­day in the 5-3 de­feat by Liver­pool that left Lam­pard’s men fac­ing a fi­nal-day Cham­pi­ons League qual­i­fi­ca­tion shoot-out with Manch­ester United and Le­ices­ter City.

De­clan Rice has emerged as a tar­get who could help to shore up Chelsea’s back­line, but West Ham United do not wish to sell and are now in a strong ne­go­ti­at­ing po­si­tion af­ter se­cur­ing their Premier League sta­tus.

West Ham value Rice at £80mil­lion and the prospect of Chelsea send­ing the likes of Michy Bat­shuayi and Ross Barkley in the op­po­site di­rec­tion does not ap­peal to ei­ther player or the West Ham board. Chelsea’s chances could be helped if Rice ex­presses a de­sire to re­join his for­mer club, but they are look­ing at other op­tions.

One of those is be­lieved to be Atletico cen­tral de­fender Gimenez, who has pre­vi­ously been linked with Liver­pool, as scouts have watched the Span­ish club on a num­ber of oc­ca­sions.

Gimenez is par­tic­u­larly strong in the air, which is an at­tribute Lam­pard has ad­mit­ted he may need to look for in po­ten­tial sign­ings. The 25-year-old Uruguay in­ter­na­tional has had prob­lems with in­juries, but he has man­aged 26 ap­pear­ances for Atletico this sea­son and has been a reg­u­lar since the restart.

Gimenez has a re­lease clause worth £109mil­lion, but there is no prospect of Chelsea bid­ding any­where near that amount. Chelsea have also been linked with a move for Atletico goal­keeper Jan Oblak, but he too has a £109mil­lion re­lease clause.

Other than Gimenez and Rice, Chelsea have also con­sid­ered re­sign­ing Nathan Ake from Bournemout­h, but his lack of height may count against him. Chelsea have a £40 mil­lion buy-back agree­ment on the Hol­land in­ter­na­tional, but he is ex­pected to move for less than that if Bournemout­h are rel­e­gated from the Premier League, with Manch­ester City in­ter­ested.

Chelsea re­main hope­ful of sign­ing at­tack­ing mid­fielder Kai Havertz from Bayer Lev­erkusen and progress on that move is likely to ac­cel­er­ate af­ter Sun­day’s fi­nal league game against Wolves.

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