Chelsea are reportedly looking to sign Barcelona left-back Alejandro Balde in the summer of 2023, which is likely to spell bad news for Ben Chilwell.
Balde has so far struggled to break into the Barca starting line-up under Xavi, with his chances hit harder after the Catalan giants landed Marcos Alonso from Chelsea to compete with Jordi Alba in the position.
A move is currently considered the best for the player’s overall development. However, it’s not clear if it will be a loan move or a permanent one.
Indeed, Balde is still only 18 but is considered one of the better young defenders in European football.
To that end, Fichajes reports that Chelsea are considering making a £13million bid to secure his signature next summer.
Links to Balde are not all that surprising, considering new owner Todd Boehly’s stance on signing younger players.
Experienced stars Kalidou Koulibaly, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Raheem Sterling were added to the squad over the summer. But that was in addition to the likes of Wesley Fofana, 21, Marc Cucurella, 24, and Carney Chukwuemeka, 18.
The Blues also brought in a host of players to boost their academy. They included youngsters Omari Hutchinson and Zak Sturge, while Chelsea also missed out on Southampton starlet Romeo Lavia.
Boehly also turned to Graham Potter as the man to replace Thomas Tuchel. And the hope is, given Potter’s ability to improve younger players at Brighton, the same scenario will unfold at Stamford Bridge.
But that could all spell bad news for one Blues star, namely Chilwell.
Chilwell could end up a Chelsea luxury
Chelsea spent £45million to sign the former Leicester man in 2020 when Frank Lampard was still boss.
However, injury issues often saw the England man on the sidelines, while Tuchel often preferred Alonso in the left-back role.
The big-money arrival of Cucurella also did little to enhance Chilwell’s chances of game time.
The fact that the Argentine worked with Potter at Brighton makes life even tougher on the former Foxes star.
Chilwell was an unused substitute in Potter’s first game in charge of the club, the 1-1 Champions League draw with RB Salzburg.
Balde’s potential arrival could see the Spaniard ultimately usurp Chilwell as Cucurella’s back-up. That situation would almost certainly lead to the England defender seeking a move elsewhere.
Balde too green for Premier League
Chelsea would be taking a major gamble if they think Balde could slot in as cover for Cucurella.
The teenager has only made 12 senior appearances for Barcelona. And, despite his potential, would arguably find the transition to English football a tough one.
Potter would be better off utilising Chilwell as often as possible. Indeed, there could be a scenario where Cucurella and Chilwell play together going forward – if Potter’s first selection against Salzburg is anything to go by.
The new Blues boss opted for a back three of Cesar Azpilucueta, Thiago Silva and Cucurella against the Austrian outfit, with Sterling at left wing-back.
That wing-back role could easily be filled by Chilwell, with Sterling pushed further forward.
However, it remains to be seen if that 3-5-2 formation is something Potter prefers going forward. If it is then Chilwell might still have hope, but a back four is likely to leave the Englishman watching on.