Ben Chilwell missed most of the 2021/22 season with a serious knee ligament injury. Chelsea really felt the absence of the England left-back in the final six months of the season but he made a much-needed return on the final day against Watford.
Chilwell had been in excellent form for the Blues up until his injury against Juventus in the Champions League. Thomas Tuchel then had to recall Kenedy from his loan to support Marcos Alonso.
Now, after the season, Alonso appears to be leaving the club. Barcelona are clear favorites to win the Spaniard’s signature which would end the 31-year-old’s nearly six-year stint at Stamford Bridge.
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According to Mundo Deportivo, negotiations between Barcelona and Chelsea over a deal regarding Alonso are moving forward. He is expected to leave the Blues for a relatively modest fee, with just over 12 months left on his contract with the bridge.
This leaves Tuchel with a bit of a dilemma as a left-back or, in this case, a left-back. It remains to be seen what form Chilwell’s fitness will take in the 2022/23 season, but is expected to suffer slightly due to his serious injury.
Without Alonso, a solid backup option is required. football.london believes Chelsea are interested in signing Marc Cucurella from Brighton & Hove Albion.
The 23-year-old signed for the Seagulls from Getafe last summer for around £16million. In his debut season in England, Cucurella made 35 appearances in the Premier League and impressed.
The Spaniard was used both at left-back and in left midfield under Graham Potter. His more impressive performances were arguably at left-back.
Chelsea aren’t the only club interested in Cucurella, however, with a number of other big clubs closely monitoring his situation at the Amex Stadium. What’s more, Brighton would charge a fee similar to what they sold Ben White to Arsenal for last summer – around £50million. football.london was told.
It’s not clear yet but that would likely deter Chelsea from pursuing a deal for Cucurella. However, it seems the Spaniard is keen to move away. Manchester City have also been linked with the left-back but there has been no contact with Pep Guardiola so far.
Speaking to Jijantes on the Manchester Evening News, Cucurella said: “The goal [at Brighton] should be developed for the attention of the big clubs. But when the opportunity arises, you have to seize it.
“There are teams you can’t say no to. No, sincerely no [Guardiola has not called]. Of course there are rumours.
“If people talk about you like that, that’s a good thing. We are calm, the important thing now is to rest.”
Despite all the cucurella talk football.london understands Borna Sosa is a much more viable option for the Blues ahead of the summer transfer window. Sosa has more than three years left on his contract with VfB Stuttgart but is catching interest from Chelsea after a great season in the Bundesliga. The 24-year-old left-back scored once and provided eight assists in the 2021/22 season in the German Bundesliga.
As an alternative to Chilwell, the Sosa deal may make more sense than Chelsea spending in the region of £50m to sign Cucurella. Brighton manager Potter also recently admitted the Seagulls may have no choice but to sell their key players for the club’s “economic position”.
“The media narrative is that you need to keep an eye on your players and I understand why that is because that’s only reasonable,” Potter said earlier this month. “But there’s a hierarchy in football and there’s a financial reality in football, so we can’t sit here and say, ‘Yes, we’ll keep all our players between now and five years’ because of course, that puts a strain on the club’s financial situation enormously.
“It’s important for us to keep moving forward, that’s a way we compete I think. Sell Ben [White] for £50m and getting better and better is how we compete in the system.
“It’s about selling the right player at the right time at the right price and I think we’re pretty good at that, or we’ve been lately. I have absolute confidence in the club when it comes to finding the right solution going forward.”
Chelsea could stay away from Cucurella, however, and they could perhaps look closer to home for their backup left-back. Ian Maatsen had a good season on loan at Coventry City.
In 39 league games, the 20-year-old has scored three goals and provided one assist. Another loan move could be on the cards for Maatsen but Chelsea could consider using him occasionally next season.