Premier League • England

Cesar Azpilicueta: Chelsea find replacement with Lens star boasting incredible stats up for sale at bargain fee seen

Jonathan Clauss of Lens during the Ligue 1 match between Lille OSC (LOSC) and RC Lens at Pierre Mauroy Stadium

Chelsea are reportedly looking to sign Lens right-back Jonathan Clauss, with the deal finally allowing Cesar Azpilicueta to complete a move away from Stamford Bridge.

Blues coach Thomas Tuchel is having to prioritise defensive recruits this summer. He’s already seen Antonio Rudiger depart for Real Madrid, while a move to Barcelona is close to being confirmed for Andreas Christensen. And there may well be more departures too with Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso also eyeing the exit door.

That leaves Tuchel with a number of headaches to solve. The need for new central defenders is obvious. They remain in pursuit of Jules Kounde, with reports last week suggesting they had made a big breakthrough in the chase for his signing.

And Monday’s Transfer Gossip claims they are also in pursuit of Nathan Ake, amid claims the Dutchman may return to Stamford Bridge.

As such, with their quest to bring in new centre-halves taking shape, Chelsea are now turning their attention to full-back.

The potential exit of Azpilicueta remains an area of concern. The Spain defender is also on Barcelona’s shortlist, though the move looks far from certain.

Chelsea’s decision to trigger his extension means the onus is now on Azpilicueta to force the issue. Furthermore, Barcelona are also reportedly putting a deadline on the potential pursuit.

Jonathan Clauss a target for Tuchel

The Blues, however, are seemingly planning though for his exit by eyeing a replacement in the form of Clauss.

As per La Voix du Nord, the player has a big admirer in Tuchel. He is seen as the ideal replacement for Azpilicueta and a player who can keep Reece James on his toes.

Furthermore, Lens are unlikely to stand in Clauss’ way if Chelsea match their asking price. And, according to the French newspaper, the Ligue 1 side are seeking just £8.5m (€10m) for the 29-year-old star.

He has just a year left on his deal and Lens are seemingly willing to accept a knockdown fee.

Clauss was Lens’ standout performer last season. He scored an impressive five goals from right-back and also weighed in with 11 assists. Furthermore, his form earned him four caps for France, having previously never represented his country at any level.

Clauss also took his place in the Ligue 1 Team of the Season. Alongside the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Marquinhos and William Saliba, he was the only Lens player to make the cut.

Price looks to be a bargain

Given the money involved, the signing of Clauss looks something of a no-brainer to Chelsea. While his age is a concern – he will turn 30 in September – he proved himself more than capable in Ligue 1 this season.

The beauty of this signing is that he won’t need to play every game, though. James is firmly established as Chelsea’s first-choice right-back, with Clauss providing quality cover.

Furthermore, the Lens man also very much appears welcome to the idea of a move to Chelsea.

During an interview with RMC Sport in May, Clauss was questioned about which club he dreams of signing for next.

“Since I was a kid, it’s Chelsea and it remains Chelsea,” he replied.

Atletico Madrid are also reportedly keen on Clauss, with the player hoping a step into a Champions League side helping him secure a place in Didier Deschamps’ World Cup squad.

Meanwhile, the Blues have reportedly seen a cheeky opening bid for Raheem Sterling fail with Manchester City setting their stall out high.