In pictures: Chelsea v Southampton
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Chelsea could be set to bolster their defensive ranks ahead of next season with the additions of Matthijs de Ligt and Jules Kounde from Juventus and Sevilla respectively, according to reports. The Blues look set to be forced into a revamp at the back in the summer window, with Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen both in line to become free agents as things stand.
The pair are yet to sign fresh terms at Stamford Bridge despite lengthy talks with the club, suggesting that Chelsea may have a new-look defence when next season rolls around.
De Ligt and Kounde, who almost joined the Blues over the summer, are two of the highest-profile names under consideration in west London, according to Eurosport.
The former has slipped down the pecking order at Juventus in recent months, while the latter is said to remain interested in a move to Chelsea in spite of his failed pre-season switch.
With that in mind, Express Sport takes a look at the Chelsea side that could line up next season if both players are snapped up next year.
Goalkeeper – Mendy
Chelsea already have one of the best goalkeepers in world football in Edouard Mendy, and there is no reason for that to change ahead of next season.
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The Senegalese stopper kept an incredible tally of 25 clean sheets last time around, with his efforts more than justifying his place ahead of Kepa Arrzabalaga in the order.
The latter remains a quality back-up option but is no match for Mendy, who was genuinely unlucky not to have been included on this year’s Ballon d’Or shortlist.
Defence – Chalobah, De Ligt, Kounde
The Blues will likely be forced to deploy a totally new back three next season if they fail to extend the deals of Rudiger, Christensen, Thiago Silva and Cesar Azpilicueta between now and the summer months.
De Ligt and Kounde will provide an injection of youth and world-class talent in the absences of the aforementioned trio, but it will undoubtedly cost plenty of money for Chelsea to land both players.
Meanwhile, Chalobah could be primed for a starring role if his development continues to follow the same trajectory over the coming months.
The Chelsea academy graduate has excelled when called upon this season and looks set to keep improving under the guidance of Thomas Tuchel, who has transformed the club’s defensive fortunes since his appointment in January.
Midfield – James, Kovacic, Jorginho, Alonso
Chelsea’s midfield is likely to remain largely unchanged next season, with Reece James and Marcos Alonso poised to reprise their wing-back roles.
Ben Chilwell is also likely to get plenty of minutes on the left-hand side as Alonso nears the latter stages of his professional career.
Meanwhile, Mateo Kovacic could be set to resume his fruitful partnership with Jorginho in the middle of the park on a regular basis.
The duo have emerged as Tuchel’s preferred central pairing at Stamford Bridge, with N’Golo Kante set to compete for a starting spot if he can shake the injury troubles that have plagued his campaign as of late.
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Attack – Mount, Havertz, Lukaku
helsea are said to be on the lookout for a new striker ahead of the January window in order to provide Romelu Lukaku with some additional competition for his starting berth.
However, if the Blues decide to prioritise their interest in both De Ligt and Kounde, it could see any potential move for a forward put on the backburner.
Mason Mount and Kai Havertz are likely to support Lukaku once again in the final third next season if there is no movement on the attacking front in the summer.
Timo Werner will also have a big role to play, with Tuchel poised to rotate him alongside Mount and Havertz over the course of the entire campaign.
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