Chelsea might have to look for alternatives for Declan Rice. Here are three options for the Blues to target in place of the West Ham United midfielder.
Chelsea appear to be a team that is on the up and up under the tutelage of Thomas Tuchel. After a bit of a stuttering period under Frank Lampard in the first half of the season, the German tactician has turned things around and there is a chance that the Blues could end 2020/21 with the biggest prize in continental football – the UEFA Champions League.
At the same time, though, the west Londoners need to start laying down the groundwork for the summer transfer window, as they look to create a well-rounded squad that can challenge on all four fronts next season. After all, while Chelsea did reach two finals, they finished a whopping 19 points behind champions Manchester City while making the top four by the skin of their teeth. All that despite the resurgence under Tuchel.
In order to get their squad in shape, Chelsea seem to be prioritising a few positions, with one of those being midfield. In particular, Tuchel appears keen to shore up the defensive side of things, with the interest in Declan Rice set to be revived by the London giants.
However, any move for Rice, who could prefer a switch to Chelsea, could be complicated, owing to the finances involved (Chelsea have other big-money targets as well), as well as the competition for the English international, with the two Manchester clubs keen on signing him.
With that in mind, it will be a prudent move for Chelsea to keep their options open and look for possible alternatives, especially considering that the need to make rotations next season will be even more important following a gruelling summer that will see the Chelsea midfielders participate in the UEFA Euro 2020. With that in mind, The Hard Tackle lists three such options that Chelsea could target this summer.
The first recommendation is a player who has not necessarily been linked with Chelsea in recent times. However, Denis Zakaria is the kind of player who could possibly fit in the scheme of things quite seamlessly, if Chelsea do make a move for the Swiss international, who is also a target for Liverpool and Manchester United, among others.
First and foremost, Zakaria’s versatility – he can play as a centre-back equally adeptly as he does as a holding midfielder – makes him a like-for-like alternative for Declan Rice, who has a history of playing as a centre-back in senior football. So, with Chelsea also in search of a centre-back, Zakaria could perhaps, be a two-pronged solution for them.
In addition to being defensively sound, he is also proficient with the ball at his feet, which tunes in well with the possession-based style of play that Thomas Tuchel generally employs. And, at 24, he ought to have his best years ahead of him, making him a long-term solution for Chelsea.
Considering Tuchel’s training methods are quite intense and can leave players weary as the season progresses, having another quality midfield option in Zakaria can certainly take some of the burden off of N’Golo Kante in particular, with the Frenchman struggling with a few fitness issues in recent years. Whether they can beat Liverpool and Manchester United to his signature remains to be seen.
The next name in our list has already been named as a possible alternative for Chelsea to consider, when it comes to Declan Rice. We are, of course, talking about Julian Weigl, who is enjoying something of a resurgence at Benfica currently.
In fact, Weigl is a player who Tuchel knows pretty well, with the Chelsea boss grooming the young German midfielder following his arrival at Borussia Dortmund. Indeed, it is with Tuchel in-charge at Dortmund that Weigl initially managed to establish a foothold in the national side as well, while his stature declined dramatically following his compatriot’s departure from the Signal Iduna Park.
Now a midfield general for Benfica, Weigl is enjoying a second wind in his career and has added elements to his game, which particularly work well in the Premier League. With more physicality in his game now, the 25-year-old is essentially a more complete midfielder, thereby making him an option worth considering for Chelsea.
And, like Rice and Zakaria, Weigl, too, is adept at playing as a centre-back, which only adds to the allure around him. Considering Tuchel already knows how to harness the best qualities in the 25-year-old, he is definitely an attractive option for Chelsea, who might not have to loosen their purse strings a whole lot to land him.
Last but not the least is another player who has been linked quite heavily with Chelsea. We are talking about the supremely talented 21-year-old AS Monaco midfield powerhouse Aurelien Tchouameni, who is already a pivotal figure for the Principality club.
In fact, such has been the impact made by the promising French under-21 international that he has received a glowing review from former Chelsea star Cesc Fabregas recently. And purely as a holding midfielder, Tchouameni fits the profile of a Declan Rice almost perfectly.
Aurélien Tchouaméni p90 in Ligue 1 this season:
54 attempted passes [84%]
6.06 tackles + interceptions
4.85 passes into the final third
Enjoyed an impressive breakout season. 🇫🇷 pic.twitter.com/mb3X5MW4aU
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) May 21, 2021
Despite his reasonably tall frame, the 21-year-old is quite agile and athletic while possessing an impeccable reading of the game, which enables him to break up play smartly. At the same time, his prowess when in possession means he provides excellent ball progression from the middle of the park, which essentially makes him a good fit under Thomas Tuchel.
Tchouameni is also the youngest of the three options in this list, which means he could potentially be a solution for close to a decade, if Chelsea play their cards right. While that does mean he could also be the most expensive option, he could definitely prove to be every bit worth the money spent if he manages to remain an asset for such a long period. All in all, an attractive option for Chelsea.