Chelsea restore Achraf Hakimi and Leeds target to transfer radar amid Reece James dilemma
Chelsea are considering Achraf Hakimi and Sergino Dest if they need a new right wing-back in the summer, according to a report.
Hakimi was on Chelsea’s radar last summer when they were having similar thoughts about the role. However, he chose to join Paris Saint-Germain from Inter Milan instead. Meanwhile, Dest embarked on a second season with Barcelona.
Chelsea ultimately went without a right-back signing. But that proved to be a costly decision when Reece James spent some months on the sidelines with injury.
Therefore, with Cesar Azpilicueta hoping for an exit too, Chelsea could consider targeting a right-back again.
According to The Athletic, one option to support James would be academy product Dujon Sterling. The 22-year-old spent the season on loan at Blackpool.
Alternatively, Chelsea could go big with a signing from elsewhere. The report claims Hakimi is back on their radar and has been joined by Dest.
Hakimi played 41 times in his debut season for PSG. From those appearances, he contributed four goals and six assists, while becoming a Ligue 1 winner.
PSG’s ultimate aim of the Champions League continued to evade them, though. Therefore, there could be further changes at the club this summer.
Hakimi would seem like someone they want to keep. His contract in the French capital runs until 2026. However, Chelsea are now able to re-establish themselves in the transfer market after a recent takeover and could test their resolve.
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Alternatively, it may be easier to acquire Dest from Barcelona. His 2021-22 brought 31 appearances and three assists, but no goals.
Amid their continuing efforts to balance the books, Barcelona could sacrifice the USMNT international. TEAMtalk understands he is also a target for Leeds United and has been offered to Manchester United too.
According to The Athletic, Chelsea have kept him in mind since the start of the year. They admire his ability to play on either flank.
With Marcos Alonso angling for an exit and Ben Chilwell having had injury issues this year on the left, that may be beneficial to the Blues.
However, Hakimi, two years Dest’s senior, may be the better option. He has experience in all of Europe’s top five leagues apart from the Premier League.
Hakimi a top replacement for James but could they play together?
While pursuing a player of that kind of calibre, Chelsea would have to decide their plans for James. The England international has been mentioned as a target for the likes of Real Madrid and Manchester City.
Chelsea have him under contract until 2025. For the time being, there is no particular reason to panic. But the Blues could be planning just in case.
Alternatively, they could be eyeing a future where James plays as a right-sided centre-back. It would be a similar role to the one Azpilicueta has occupied for Thomas Tuchel. In turn, it would allow a new arrival to take the wing-back role.
That said, Chelsea’s top target Jules Kounde would also prefer to play on the right of a back three. Therefore, perhaps Chelsea just need competition for James, not someone of an equal level.
In that regard, the reintegration of Sterling could be something to consider. At 22 years old, it could be time for him to compete back at Stamford Bridge.
One thing is clear, either way. After their injury issues out wide in 2021-22, Chelsea do need depth in the full-back roles.
But they will be hoping to continue counting on James as a starter for years to come yet. If not, it is clear to see why they would be keeping someone like Hakimi in mind.
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