Chelsea have reportedly joined Liverpool in the race to sign Cologne’s highly-rated left-back Jonas Hector, with Antonio Conte desperate to add to his defensive options before the end of the summer transfer window.
According to Peter O’Rourke of ESPN, Chelsea are interested in signing Cologne’s 26-year-old defender Jonas Hector. Hector played a pivotal role in Germany’s run to the semi-finals at the recently concluded European Championships and would undoubtedly be a good signing for Antonio Conte’s side, who currently only have Cesar Azpilicueta as a recognised senior left-back.
However, Liverpool’s long-term interest in the player could pave the way for a bidding war, and could be the ideal opportunity for Cologne to cash in on the left-back. As Hector recently signed a five-year extension with the German club, the two English giants would have to pay top dollar if they are to secure his services.
Ever since the departure of Ashley Cole, Chelsea have failed to find an out-an-out left-back to replace him. Following Cole’s move to the Serie A to join AS Roma, Atletico Madrid left-back Filipe Luis was roped in to replace the outgoing Englishman. Unfortunately, the Brazilian failed to cement himself as a regular in Jose Mourinho’s setup.
Cesar Azpilicueta, predominantly a right sided defender, has been playing as a left-back for the Blues ever since displacing Cole from the Chelsea lineup in the 2013-14 season. Even Filipe Luis, who was the best left-back in La Liga in the season prior to his move to Chelsea, failed to keep Azpilicueta out of the side. But due to Branislav Ivanovic’s recent decline, Conte is reportedly keen on moving Azpilicueta to the right and signing a new left full-back.
Hector would be a good signing for Chelsea, but will not come cheap
Jonas Hector was one of the better players for Germany throughout the European Championships. He was resolute at the back and was equally threatening going forward. If Conte does decide to employ a system that includes wing-backs, Hector’s pace and crossing ability would make him a perfect fit for that position.
Jonas Hector: No player blocked more crosses in the Bundesliga last season than Hector (20) pic.twitter.com/B6NU63K7w2
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) July 13, 2016
In the 2015/16 Bundesliga campaign, the defender made an average of 2.4 interceptions and the same number of clearances per game (via WhoScored). He was also decent at winning the ball back from the opposition, making 1.9 tackles per 90 minutes of play in the league. In fact, his performances were so impressive that he was named in the WhoScored Team of the Year for last season.
But due his recent contract extension with Cologne, Chelsea must be willing to shell out at least £20 million if they are to sign their man. Also, given Liverpool’s interest, the asking price for the defender could increase further.