Radical “blood change” after January, Chelsea defense put on a new shirt

The Blues are looking for wholesale changes across the team and the defence could look very different next year.

Sign a new midfielder but lose money that could go towards an attacker. Bring in a forward but spend less on a defender. Cheaper defender could equate to no new goalkeeper. Graham Potter will have a lot to balance and weigh up when trying to divide up his transfer kitty next month.

Not only are Chelsea preparing to be unusually active in January they are attempting to do it in the most unpredictable window (post-World Cup) ever. Add in the new recruitment team tasked with transforming operations and the paradigm shift in terms of strategy and planning and there’s little to be certain about.

There’s an argument that could be made for a player come in for every position either as backup, starter or because there isn’t one currently at the club. That makes for a complex future ahead.

Having taken a look recently on at how Potter might be able to line-up in 2023 – with a view to the summer too – and also the total hopes for January, we’re going to look specifically at the defence and how that might be constructed.

With the news that advanced talks are underway for Monaco centre-back Benoit Badiashile, meanwhile Josko Gvardiol remains a target for the club after his impressive World Cup, the defence has come back into focus having been largely put on the backburner with more pressing issues in midfield and attack.

Thiago Silva is 38 though and isn’t certain to sign an extension past this season, Kalidou Koulibaly is 31 and struggling to adapt (though that will surely be given more time) and Cesar Azpilicueta is 33 and has been on the downturn for 18-months. All of a sudden there could be another clear out at the back, and this is what a fresh-faced set-up could look like.

Reece James

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In both a four-man or a five-man defence there is a space with James’ name. He’s the side’s best player and provides balance throughout. Although the 23-year-old has excelled at wing-back he is also more than capable of being an orthodox – though attacking – full-back. With a defensive midfielder he would have just as much reign to move up the pitch and attack. He’s playing.

Benoit Badiashile

The new name linked with Chelsea, Badiashile is reportedly in advanced talks to sign in January from Monaco. At 21 he is still young but already has 135 league games under his belt in France. It represents a different style of transfer to the norm at Stamford Bridge but could prove to be a bargain.

Josko Gvardiol

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Gvardiol was one of the outstanding players in Qatar and his stock has only risen since Chelsea missed out on him over the summer. For what could be a world record fee for a defender Gvardiol does come at a big price, but he’s the type of player that could be the heart of the defence for 10 years.

Levi Colwill

Levi Colwill | Profile | Official Site | Chelsea Football Club

It gets slightly more complex here. In a back four then this would be a left-back. In a back three, this is an extra centre-back. For the sake of new signings we’re going with the latter.

Without spending a penny – though there may be a fee involved, but more on that in a minute – Chelsea can bring in one of the brightest teenage centre-backs in the country into the fold.

Colwill has spent this season on loan at Brighton after Potter advocated for his transfer in the summer and has found his way into the team recently, playing four matches in a row having only played two before that.

As a dominating left-footed centre-back capable of being deployed in a back three of four, Colwill has impressed when asked to play on the south coast. If Chelsea want a mid-season player to solve their troubles then recalling Colwill early might be the answer, even if there is a small compensation price to pay.

Ben Chilwell

Now onto the left side; similar to James, Chilwell will play as a wing-back or a full-back when fit. He may be out for another six weeks at least but gas shown his attacking quality when playing this season already. Full-back pairings don’t come too much better than James and Chilwell, but keeping them fit is the hard part.

This defence does miss out Wesley Fofana, he’s injured and arguably in their best XI when fit, for this experiment he’s missed out simply to get some new players into the side.

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