Chelsea are reportedly keeping tabs on VfL Wolfsburg defender Maxence Lacroix as a potential alternative for top target Jules Kounde.

According to a report from ESPN, 21-year-old VfL Wolfsburg defender Maxence Lacroix is among the players targeted by Chelsea, as Thomas Tuchel looks for defensive reinforcements in the upcoming January transfer window.

The Blues are currently the front-runners in the race to sign Jules Kounde, with Sevilla prepared to drop their €80 million valuation. The player has even agreed personal terms and is willing to move to Stamford Bridge. But it appears Chelsea have identified a few alternatives, in case the deal goes south, as it did in the summer.

One of the players Chelsea are considering is Lacroix, who is widely regarded as one of the most talented young defenders in the Bundesliga. He is joined by Sven Botman in the club’s list of alternatives, although the Blues have also been linked with a January swoop for Gleison Bremer.

Formerly of the Sochaux youth academy, Lacroix has enjoyed immense success at Wolfsburg since joining the club last year. The 21-year-old has notched up 57 competitive appearances for the Bundesliga outfit, impressing the onlookers with his imposing presence at the back, coupled with his technical prowess and game-reading ability.

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The Frenchman’s defensive partnership alongside John Anthony Brooks last season played a central role behind Wolfsburg’s top-four finish. It has also attracted interest from a host of clubs across Europe. In fact, the defender was notably linked with Tottenham and Chelsea in the summer.

Although Wolfsburg were able to retain his services, they are in a more precarious position in January. With seven successive defeats in all competitions, the Wolves are already out of European action while they are also dawdling on the wrong side of the Bundesliga table, with very little chance of competing for European places.

It could open up an avenue for Chelsea to snap up Lacroix in January, as the Blues prepare for life without Antonio Rudiger. The German international is expected to depart Stamford Bridge in the summer amid disagreements over a new contract.

Tuchel is also running the risk of losing out on Andreas Christensen. The Dane’s Chelsea contract expires in the summer, and he has recently emerged as a target for Tottenham and the two Manchester giants.

Therefore, the addition of talents like Kounde or Lacroix could be critical as Chelsea look to build the core of their defence for the long-term future. The Blues are likely to tilt towards Kounde, though, as he offers more experience at the highest level of football, whereas his 21-year-old compatriot has endured a slightly underwhelming season at Wolfsburg so far.

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