Premier League • England

Clock ticking with Chelsea chances of losing vital star poised to skyrocket

Chelsea duo Reece James and Cesar Azpilicueta 2021

Chelsea have under a month to make a breakthrough before their chances of losing a critical component in their side will skyrocket, per a report.

Unquestionably, the area in which Chelsea have taken the greatest strides forward under Thomas Tuchel has been in defence. The Blues conceded against Watford at Vicarage road on Wednesday night in what was remarkably their first league away goal conceded from open play this season.

Aside from producing the league’s meanest defence, several of their stars have also made massive contributions at the opposite end.

Reece James is currently their joint-top scorer in the league alongside Mason Mount (four goals). Furthermore, no fewer than six defenders have notched Premier League goals in the campaign.

However, Tuchel’s impressive defensive corps could soon require major surgery.

Thiago Silva, Andreas Christensen, Antonio Rudiger and Cesar Azpilicueta are all out of contract next summer. In Azpilicueta’s case, Barcelona are circling.

That’s according to Spanish outlet Marca, who claim the versatile right-back is being eyed up by Xavi to usurp Sergino Dest and Sergi Roberto. Veteran Dani Alves recently returned to the Camp Nou. But at 39, he is only a short-term fix.

Azpilicueta was surprisingly an unused substitute for five successive league matches during October-November.

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel's Andreas Christensen ultimatum

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel's Andreas Christensen ultimatum

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has urged Andreas Christensen to walk the talk over his contract after showing willingness to sign a new deal, with more news on Matthijs de Ligt and Jules Kounde.

Nonetheless, his ability to play at wingback, or in the three-man backline, combined with his imperious leadership qualities as club captain ensure he remains critical to Chelsea’s chances of success.

However, Marca state Barcelona’s hope is a new Azpilicueta deal will continue to go unsigned. If he reaches January before penning fresh terms, Barcelona will be free to negotiate a summer free agent move with the player directly, thus boosting their chances of twisting his arm.

Abramovich ‘paralyses’ two Chelsea deals until December 8

Meanwhile, Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has left Tuchel hanging over two Chelsea transfers, and the date of December 8th is critical to the Russian’s thinking, per a report.

The Blues have had to make full use of their squad after a spate of injuries hit hard in recent weeks. Two players who have been afforded significant minutes are Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner. However, according to Sport Witness, Tuchel and the Chelsea hierarchy are ‘open’ to either player’s exit.

That has led to speculation Barcelona could swoop in January, with their need for attacking reinforcements greater than ever.

Sport Witness (citing Spanish outlet Sport), now claim Werner or Ziyech would be viable transfers for Xavi’s side. Precisely what type of deal would be on the table isn’t stated. But given their well documented financial woes, loan moves would appear most likely.

However, Chelsea owner Abramovich has reportedly ‘paralysed negotiations’. The Russian is unwilling to strengthen a Champions League rival in the winter window.

Barcelona currently sit second in Group E, though could drop into the Europa League if defeated by Bayern Munich in their final group match. Benfica would also have to win their corresponding clash against Dynamo Kiev.

Those fixtures are due to take place on December 8 and the results could help determine Ziyech and Werner’s fates.

READ MORE: €100m transfer dependent on two conditions for star Chelsea boss Tuchel ‘loves’