Chelsea have been trying to strengthen their defence all summer and after their failure to land Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly and AC Milan’s Alessio Romagnoli, the Blues have turned their attention to Lazio’s 24-year-old centre-back Stefan de Vrij.

 

Chelsea’s desperate search for defensive reinforcement in Italy looks set to continue till the end of the transfer window. The Blues have recently been linked with Fiorentina’s Marcos Alonso and Napoli’s Nikola Maksimovic, and have been thwarted in their pursuit of Milan youngster Alessio Romagnoli. Sport Italia pundit Alfredo Pedulla now reports that Chelsea have turned their attention to Dutch centre-back Stefan de Vrij, who has 30 senior caps and 3 goals for his county already.

Serie A clubs have denied Conte and Chelsea’s financial might all summer and continue to do so, which is not only a reflection of their ambition but also the kind of mentality that has been inculcated over the years. Despite the departure of Paul Pogba this year, one has to take note of the kind of financial and structural stability that clubs like Napoli have in the Serie A — the kind that would have been enviable in the recent past.

SHANGHAI, CHINA - AUGUST 08: Mario Mandzukic (R) of Juventus FC contests the ball against Stefan De Vrij (C) of Lazio during the Italian Super Cup final football match between Juventus and Lazio at Shanghai Stadium on August 8, 2015 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

SHANGHAI, CHINA – AUGUST 08: Mario Mandzukic (R) of Juventus FC contests the ball against Stefan De Vrij (C) of Lazio during the Italian Super Cup final football match between Juventus and Lazio at Shanghai Stadium on August 8, 2015 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

Napoli have not only denied the sale of Koulibaly to Chelsea despite the player’s will to move, but have also snatched away Chelsea’s alternative target Nikola Maksimovic of Torino. The misconception that Napoli were after Maksimovic to replace Koulibaly has been dispelled as Chelsea fans prepare themselves for another season with Branislav Ivanovic in defence. Napoli look set to complete the Maksimovic deal while retaining Koulibaly.

The Blues will have to shell out an amount close to €25m for De Vrij excluding performance related bonuses according to Pedulla (via Football-Italia). However, Chelsea fans should take note of the fact that the Dutchman missed a huge chunk of last season through injury just like Maksimovic.

However, his quality and potential is unquestioned. His absence was one of the key reasons Lazio had such a turbulent season last year, exiting early from the Champions League in the qualifiers and finishing at a modest 8th place behind AC Milan.