Chelsea hopes of bol­ster­ing leaky de­fence hinge on sum­mer sales

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

Chelsea head coach Frank Lam­pard faces an anx­ious wait to find out whether he will be able to re­build his de­fence this sum­mer.

While Chelsea are push­ing ahead with their bid to sign Kai Havertz from Bayer Lev­erkusen, it is be­lieved Lam­pard will have to cre­ate space in his squad to sign de­fen­sive re­cruit­ments.

It is be­lieved Chelsea did not ac­ti­vate their buy-back op­tion on Manch­ester City-bound Nathan Ake be­cause they have four first-team cen­tre-backs at the club.

Lam­pard ad­mires Ake and is also in­ter­ested in West Ham United’s De­clan Rice and Atletico Madrid’s

Jose Gimenez, while Ben Chilwell re­mains his top left-back tar­get.

But Chelsea want to off­load play­ers in de­fen­sive ar­eas be­fore mak­ing new sign­ings, which means the club would need to find a buyer for Kurt Zouma, An­to­nio Rudi­ger or An­dreas Chris­tensen.

Another way to cre­ate space and bring in funds to sign Rice, who West Ham value at £65mil­lion, or Gimenez, would be to sell mid­fielder Jorginho. Mar­cos Alonso or Emer­son Palmieri will have to leave to al­low Lam­pard to sign a left­back, with Chilwell his pre­ferred op­tion ahead of Ajax’s Ni­co­las Tagli­afico and Ever­ton’s Lu­cas Digne.

Lam­pard will hold talks with Chelsea over the fu­ture of goal­keeper Kepa Ar­riz­a­bal­aga, who was left on the bench for the fi­nal Premier League game of the sea­son and the FA Cup fi­nal.

It is ex­pected that Chelsea will sign a goal­keeper, re­gard­less of whether Kepa leaves, either per­ma­nently or on loan.

Chelsea have iden­ti­fied am­bi­tious top-level tar­gets such as Jan Oblak and Marc-An­dre ter Ste­gen should Kepa leave, while also look­ing at cheaper al­ter­na­tives to bat­tle for the No1 spot if he has to stay.

On his need to strengthen de­fen­sive ar­eas, Lam­pard, whose team con­ceded 54 Premier League goals, said: “The numbers don’t lie. We are try­ing to play a cer­tain way. I know that teams now who are at the top of the game, Liver­pool and Manch­ester City, have been through sim­i­lar pe­ri­ods.

“It is a work in progress for me. I can’t shelve it in another di­rec­tion, we have to work de­fen­sively as a group. But some of the in­di­vid­ual er­rors we are mak­ing can’t be there if you want to keep mov­ing for­ward.

“So we have to work as a group to make that bet­ter. There are ar­eas to im­prove de­fen­sively.”

Blue tar­get: De­clan Rice is val­ued by West Ham at £65 mil­lion but is a player Chelsea man­ager Frank Lam­pard ad­mires

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