The European Champions have witnessed an unbelievable revamp after Thomas Tuchel took charge of a depleting Blues’ squad. With the roster containing a billion protagonists, 36-year-old Thiago Silva protected Chelsea’s goal like a rock. But with the Brazilian reaching the twilight of his career, Thomas Tuchel will be hunting the transfer market to find replacements for Thiago Silva.
Thiago Silva arrived at Stamford Bridge, after heartbreak in the ultimate showdown with PSG. But the experienced campaigner, along with his leadership and defensive capabilities guided the Blues to a Champions League gold medal and a FA Cup silver medal. But the ageing Brazilian could soon hang his boots, forcing Chelsea to find replacements for Thiago Silva. We at FootTheBall explore the options lying in front of the Blues to replace the Brazilian centre-back.
The Dutch Dukes boast of centre-back options who could torment forwards, La Oranje’s defensive lines have another budding centre-back currently training at Barcelona. Coming from the land of Virgil Van Dijk and Ronald Koeman, Xavier Mbuyumba already has a heavy title against his name. The Dutch defender could surely be one of the replacements of the ageing Thiago Silva when the Brazilian decides to leave Stamford Bridge. Frank Lampard’s extravagant summer signings collaborated with Tuchel’s defensive stability landed the European crown at the Bridge, but with Silva reaching the twilight of his career, an injection of fresh blood is required.
Mbuyumba comfortably passes the ball from the back and constantly recycles possession pushing his squad upwards. The Dutch defender can operate in different defensive positions. He has excellent technical skills and is a secured customer when in charge of the possession. The youngsters’ awareness of his rivals keeps him a step ahead of the strikers looking to pounce on opportunities, as they are left starving for goals. His outstanding muscular stature aids him in dominating aerial brawls, and the defender rarely flies into a tackle without winning the ball. It’s no surprise that he’s being dubbed “the next Virgil van Dijk” because of those attributes and the fact that he’ll continue to progress tremendously.
While a Polish striker once proved to be the antagonist of Chelsea’s fairytale, a Polish defender could surely be the Blues’ protagonist. Sebastian Walukiewicz has attracted attention from other English giants, with the Theatre of Dreams eagerly waiting for the Polish defenders’ signature. But Walukiewicz could benefit if he pockets a contract from Stamford Bridge. Cagliari’s defensive leader, Walukiewics is technically blessed on the football rarely giving his enemies a minute of relief. The perfect candidate to conquer an aerial battle, Walukiewicz establishes authority with his strength and determination.
The true definition of ‘Last Ditched defending’, the centre-back puts his heart out while defending in Italy, a quality that could impress Tuchel. While Silva’s replacement is important, Walukiewicz could fill in even during Rudiger’s or Azpilicueta’s absence if the Blues need it. Lastly, the centre-back won’t cost Chelsea a fortune to acquire, and if Tuchel plots the Polish on his team-sheet, the German manager won’t be disappointed in Sebastian Walukiewicz defensive heroics.
The South American champion, Cristian Romero’s heroics in Copa America’s ultimate showdown slaughtered Thiago Silva’s silverware dreams. While Silva’s legacy is ending, Romero’s chronicle has just started. A jaw-dropping defender at Atalanta, Romero stormed into La Albicelste’s team sheets with impressive performances in Italy. With one South American departing, the other one could take his spot. Cristian Romero possesses a diverse collection of abilities. Operating as Atalanta’s sweeper, he seems to possess excellent strength, sweeping up wayward tosses and splitting up assaults that attempt to get past the backline.
The Argentine can patiently wait for the opposition to gallop forward before comfortably tackling him without dropping a sweat or undoubtedly tackle him higher up the pitch. Romero is tenacious and relentless in his pursuit of the opposing forward, often neutralising him and limiting the rival’s creative alternatives. When clearing the ball he maintains his composure and, more often than not, makes the most sensible call by either retaining it or making the appropriate pass rather than smashing the ball randomly and losing out possession. A reliable centre-back for any outfit, Romero’s sudden escalation in the Serie-A puts him high on Tuchel’s shopping list after Thiago Silva’s departure.
Bayern Munich’s silent assassin, Niklas Sule has changed the defensive scenario at Allianz Arena. Sule is great defensive potential, with his challenge execution technique and situation awareness enabling him to effectively stop hazardous threats. He looks to step out of defence to steal the ball fast and pass it to a comrade. Sule’s all-around ability distinguishes him as a standout defender who can hurt you by pushing forward while also operating as a shielding alternative. Thiago Silva’s player CV had the title of goal-scoring threat’ sparkling brightly. The German defender could replicate Silva’s menaces when Chelsea win a set-piece.
— OptaFranz (@OptaFranz) July 11, 2019
The German centre-back was previously linked with the Blues but Rudiger’s presence and Bayern’s glittering contract lured him away from the club. But a formidable centre-back pairing, Tuchel will look to seed Rudiger and Sule together, bolstering the defensive strength of Chelsea’s outfit. Nikolas Sule is well aware of how to stay a step ahead of the steaming forwards. An integral part of Bayern’s powerhouse, Sule’s transfer from Germany to England could be a smooth affair with Chelsea like Bayern relying heavily on dictating the possession. Hansi Flick, Sule’s ex-manager at Bayern and current German manager believed “Niklas is a fast player who is calm on the ball and helps shape the game from the back,”. As explained by Flick, Sule could be leading the list of replacements for Thiago Silva
Another Dutch centre-back could march into Tuchel’s inventory, with Lille defender Sven Botman being the latest addition. The French champion was instrumental in Lille’s iconic fairytale this summer, constantly combining with veteran Jose Fonte to produce match-winning results for the French conquerors. Sven Botman is a player who prefers to hold possession of the ball. He plays in the same manner as towering Dutch centre-back Virgil Van Dijk. He tends to dominate a bunch of aerial battles owing to his stature.
73% – Sven Botman’s duel success rate this Ligue 1 season is the highest of all players in the competition with 50+ attempts (73% from 95 duels). Promotion. pic.twitter.com/hPWAMwHWPt
— OptaJohan (@OptaJohan) November 12, 2020
He only flushes the football when it counts significantly or when they are mounted with immense pressure; alternatively, he prefers to preserve control by passing the ball quickly and swiftly to throw rivals out of the equation. He also demonstrates toughness when it comes to assault, as he is frequently seen assisting the charge and pushing forward if the situation allows. The monstrous Dutch centre-back’s awareness allows him to deliver the perfect deliveries for his forwards to pounce on. The dire financial situation of the French League makes Botman a good option as the Blues would not have to pay a premium for his signature.