Chelsea Identify Exciting 20-Year-Old Alternative to Jules Kounde

Josko Gvardiol

Chelsea are reportedly targeting a transfer for Red Bull Leipzig centre-back Josko Gvardiol in the summer, according to The Athletic’s Simon JohnsonThe Leipzig centre-back has been identified as an alternative to Sevilla’s Jules Kounde, with Chelsea being long-time admirers of the France international.

Chelsea to Target Red Bull Leipzig’s Josko Gvardiol as Jules Kounde Alternative

A Glaring Need

With Antonio Rudiger joining European Champions Real Madrid and fellow centre-back Andreas Christensen moving to Barcelona once their contracts expire in the summer, Chelsea certainly will have a deficit at the heart of their defence. Rudiger was a key man at Stamford Bridge this season making 54 appearances across all competitions while Christensen also made 34. 

Thiago Silva remains a top centre-back at the age of 37 and Chelsea academy product Trevoh Chalobah has emerged under manager Thomas Tuchel, however, the centre-back position will likely be at the top of the club’s shopping list in the summer. 

Chelsea have been long-time admirers of France international Kounde, reportedly agreeing personal terms with him last summer before walking away due to Sevilla increasing their asking price, reported to be in the region of £42 million. Sevilla have also sold Kounde’s defensive partner to Aston Villa recently, meaning Chelsea could have to pay even more if they expect Sevilla to part with both their starting centre-backs in the same transfer window. The West London club could look towards cheaper options as they look to strengthen their squad to compete with Manchester City and Liverpool next season.

A Rising Star

Gvardiol has flourished in his first season in the Bundesliga for RB Leipzig, making it understandable why clubs like Chelsea have taken note. The Croatia international joined from Dinamo Zagreb before the start of the 2020/21 season but spent that campaign back on loan at his boyhood club. 

The 20-year-old initially played as a left-back during his first season in Germany, a position he plays regularly for the Croatia national team, however as the campaign wore on he lined up exclusively as a centre-back. 

Gvardiol has emerged as a key player for Leipzig this season, making 29 appearances and even contributing with two goals and two assists. The centre-back has impressed with his ability on the ball too, ranking in the 97th percentile for progressive passes, 99th percentile for dribbles completed and 94th percentile for progressive carries among fellow centre-backs. It’s easy to see then why the Dinamo Zagreb product has been identified as a potential replacement for the departing Rudiger. 

Main image credit: Wikimedia Commons