Chelsea choose ‘priority’ target after Ornstein reveals shortlist of three impressive players with one thing in common

Jonathan Bamba and Benoit Badiashile

Chelsea want to recruit a left-footed centre-back in 2023, a report has revealed – and one target is currently standing out above two others in that regard.

Chelsea’s defence underwent the first phase of an evolution in 2022. They lost Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen when their contracts expired at the end of June. Both ended up in La Liga, with Rudiger going to Real Madrid and Christensen to Barcelona.

To replenish their depth in the role, Chelsea signed Kalidou Koulibaly from Napoli and Wesley Fofana from Leicester City in the summer transfer window. They also added left-back Marc Cucurella from Brighton in the knowledge that he could cover centrally too.

However, it has still been more common for Cucurella to play in his natural position as a full-back. Therefore, discounting him, Chelsea remain without a left-footed centre-back.

Koulibaly and Fofana favour their right foot, as do Thiago Silva, Cesar Azpilicueta and Trevoh Chalobah.

Thus, to address the balance, Graham Potter might benefit from welcoming a left-sider into his centre-back ranks.

With that in mind, a recent report by David Ornstein on The Athletic has revealed Chelsea have a shortlist of three left-footed centre-halves. Top of the list, at present, is Monaco’s Benoit Badiashile.

In fact, the 21-year-old has become their “priority” option. There have already been talks between the Blues and Monaco, although the two clubs are yet to come to an agreement.

Badiashile’s contract with the Ligue 1 club is only due to run until 2024. Therefore, Monaco may be under some pressure to sell him in the new year.

Chelsea identify two Badiashile alternatives

If a deal cannot be done with Chelsea, though, the Premier League side will be able to turn their focus elsewhere. According to the report, they also have two Bundesliga options on their shortlist.

Also in contention are Eintracht Frankfurt’s Evan Ndicka and Bayer Leverkusen’s Piero Hincapie. Main target Josko Gvardiol, of RB Leipzig, has not faded from their radar either, but might be the most challenging option they could choose.

Ndicka’s contract situation is even more helpful than fellow Frenchman Badiashile’s. In fact, the Eintracht Frankfurt man, who is 23 years old, will be a free agent by June as things stand.

In theory, Chelsea could tie him down to a pre-contract agreement for next season if they wanted to. That said, London rivals Arsenal might have been having similar ideas.

Hincapie, who will turn 21 in January, is under contract with Bayer Leverkusen for a longer duration, until 2026.

Badiashile, Ndicka and Hincapie are all young but promising players who could strengthen Chelsea in the long term. The former two both have more than 150 senior appearances to their name already.

Hincapie is at an earlier stage of his development but has been showing decent progress too. He was in Ecuador’s squad for the World Cup and already has 24 caps for them under his belt.

It seems like Chelsea are looking in the right places for a defensive reinforcement. Only time will tell if anyone they bring in can deliver after the likes of Koulibaly have taken their time to get going despite having good pedigree upon arrival.

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