Chelsea interested in Southampton defender Kyle Walker-Peters
- Walker-Peters on right-back list with Inter’s Denzel Dumfries
- Chelsea also keen on Fofana as Cucurella deal moves closer
Chelsea are interested in signing Southampton’s Kyle Walker-Peters, with Thomas Tuchel looking to bring in a right-sided defender to compete with Reece James.
Tuchel is pursuing several targets as part of his defensive rebuild and is keen to add more depth behind James, who can play as a right-back, right centre-back and right wing-back. Internazionale’s Denzel Dumfries is one option for Chelsea but they are also exploring a move for Walker-Peters.
Chelsea’s owners want to back Tuchel and, after strengthening their central defence by signing Kalidou Koulibaly from Napoli for £33.8m, they intend to keep spending. The club are giving serious consideration to bidding for the Leicester centre-back Wesley Fofana, are close to signing the Brighton defender Marc Cucurella for £50m and have held multiple discussions about Walker-Peters, who has impressed since joining Southampton from Tottenham in January 2020
It is understood that a bid of about £35m could be enough to buy Walker-Peters, though there have been suggestions that Southampton will ask for more than £40m for the England international. The 25-year-old, who can operate on both flanks, is a key player for Southampton. He is strong on the ball and would lessen Tuchel’s dependence on James, who was sorely missed while out with a long-term hamstring injury last season. Manchester United have also been linked with Walker-Peters.
Chelsea’s need for additions at the back is clear. They were hit with a crisis in central defence after losing Andreas Christensen to Barcelona and Antonio Rüdiger to Real Madrid. They responded by signing Koulibaly but have failed with an attempt to sign Nathan Aké from Manchester City, missed out to Barça on Jules Koundé and have had little luck with attempts to buy Josko Gvardiol from RB Leipzig and Presnel Kimpembe from Paris Saint-Germain.
However the outlook will look much brighter if Chelsea sign Cucurella. Tuchel wants a left-footed defender and the intention is not only for the Spaniard to provide quality competition for Ben Chilwell at left wing-back. Chelsea also see Cucurella, who was previously targeted by City, as a possible candidate for the left centre-back position.
Along with pursuing Cucurella, Chelsea are also monitoring developments around Fofana. Leicester value the 21-year-old centre-back at £85m and have insisted that he is not for sale, but Chelsea want to test that stance. There have been suggestions that the French defender wants to move to Stamford Bridge.
The complication around any deal is that Fofana has five years on his contract, giving Leicester plenty of leverage. One possibility is that Chelsea try to sweeten the deal by giving Leicester the chance to sign Levi Colwill. However Brighton are also interested in the highly rated 19-year-old centre-back.
The arrival of defensive reinforcements could allow more defenders to leave Chelsea. Signing Cucurella and a right-sided defender could pave the way for Marcos Alonso and César Azpilicueta to complete moves to Barcelona.
Chelsea are also prepared to loan out Malang Sarr. The French centre-back has been targeted by Fulham, but it is understood that Monaco are leading the race to sign him.
Chelsea could also need a No 2 goalkeeper if they send Kepa Arrizabalaga on loan to Napoli. They are in talks over sending Timo Werner to RB Leipzig, who would only be able to sign their former striker only if he takes a pay cut.