Ask any Chelsea fan, and they would tell you that one of the major priorities for the winter should be retaining Antonio Rüdiger and Andreas Christensen. However, the hopes of being able to keep the pair appear to be fading, with the former likely to move to La Liga and the latter seemingly falling out of favour due, in part, to his contract scenario.
However, one of the most telling signs that Chelsea might be moving on from both players is the links to new central defenders. Links have been appearing for some time now, and the latest link appears to see Chelsea linked with Sven Botman. The 21-year-old has been a huge signing for Lille OSC, and played a crucial role in their shock title win in the 2020-21 season.
Botman is known across European football as one of its rising defensive stars. It is expected, then, that Chelsea will not be alone in asking Lille about the centre-half. With the club enjoying an impressive campaign in Europe, though, agreeing a deal in January might be more akin to the Timo Werner deal where it is agreed in advance of a summer move.
The player himself, though, would be the ideal addition to a Chelsea team that needs extra defensive cover. If the Dane and the German both leave, too, it would leave Chelsea in immediate need of a new centre-half. Botman, though, would be the best addition that Chelsea could likely make.
Outside of marquee arrivals like Jules Kounde, who would likely cost more than the club can manage at present, Botman offers a very tantalising prospect.
Sven Botman: A natural defender who suits the Tuchel style?
Listen to anyone who plays with the defender, or plays against him, and you can see why so many are excited about his potential. Indeed, according to current teammate and former Southampton defender Jose Fonte, Botman is the real deal. In a chat with talkSPORT, Fonte noted: “He’s a defender, and by that I mean he likes to defend; he likes to play simple, he’s strong, he’s tall, he wins his duels, he doesn’t overcomplicate the game, he’s good on the ball, left-footed.”
Interestingly, the player models himself on a player with a bit of an odd history with Chelsea in Winston Bogarde. Though his own time at Stamford Bridge was a well-recognised mistake, Bogarde was well-regarded at his peak as a top-class defender. Botman worked with him at Ajax, and credits him for helping him to improve his mentality as a centre-half.
The player is being linked with many teams in England, though. Newcastle United, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Liverpool, and Manchester United have all been credited with serious interest in the past. However, given the players modelling of his game on a former Blues defender, the club will hope they can manage to win the race.
With Chelsea potentially also losing Cesar Azpilicueta and Thiago Silva this summer to come, too, the need for a new defensive generation is growing ever-more important. At just 21, Botman is a player who could come into the team now and play well, and also offer a more long-term option to build around.