Chelsea transfer chief Marina Granovskaia has three-man shortlist for Thomas Tuchel

Chelsea: Tuchel coy when quizzed on transfer targets

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Chelsea have drawn up a three-man list of defensive targets that consists of Bayern Munich star Niklas Sule, RB Leipzig’s Ibrahima Konate and Jose Gimenez of Atletico Madrid, according to reports. Club director Marina Granovskaia is expected to continue the Blues’ big-spending habits during the summer transfer window after shelling out no less than £222million in transfer fees before the start of the current campaign.

Reports last month suggested that Chelsea have put aside an eye-watering £260m in order to fund a host of new arrivals during pre-season, with Thomas Tuchel eager to improve his squad with the hope of mounting a Premier League title challenge next time around.

The German boss will be running the rule over his defenders between now and the end of the campaign, with a number of exits likely to be needed to free up the club’s wage bill ahead of making any signings.

The trio of Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen and Cesar Azpilicueta have impressed since Tuchel’s arrival at the end of January, conceding a total of just two goals in eight Premier League matches.

However, the addition of an imposing central defender remains a top priority for the Blues in advance of the summer window, according to The Athletic.

The report claims that Sule, Konate and Gimenez are all being closely watched by Chelsea, with the latter having been on the club’s radar for around five years.

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Although Rudiger and Christensen have been regular starters in recent weeks, they are both out of contract at the end of next season and are yet to show any indication that they will agree to fresh terms.

This poses an issue for Granovskaia, who will be doing everything in her power to avoid the prospect of the pair leaving for nothing in a year and a half’s time.

However, the problem could be solved with the additions of Sule or Konate, two of Europe’s most impressive young centre-backs.

Aged 25 and 21 respectively, both players have considerable room for growth and could prove to be effective long-term solutions for the Blues, who are also sweating on the possible departure of veteran defender Thiago Silva at the end of the current campaign.

The Brazil international penned a one-year deal in the summer after leaving Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer, but is yet to begin negotiations with Chelsea over an extension.

Meanwhile, Gimenez offers the promise of an experienced head with a proven ability to play consistently at the game’s highest level, traits that could be crucial in Tuchel’s fight to lead the west London club back to the top of the Premier League.

David Alaba is another name that has been linked with Chelsea in recent months, but the report claims that there is little to no possibility of the Austrian star joining in pre-season.

He looks set to leave Bayern after refusing to sign a new contract with the German champions, but previously made it clear that he would not be interested in a move to Stamford Bridge.

The 28-year-old is expected to sign for Real Madrid, who are aiming to solve their own defensive issues amid the potential departures of Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane in the not-too-distant future.

Chelsea have been tipped to improve in all areas of the pitch during the summer, with the likes of Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland also being mentioned in connection with the Blues.

The Norwegian striker is arguably Europe’s hottest talent and is reportedly attracting interest from United and Madrid as well as Chelsea.

It remains to be seen which players Granovskaia will decide to move for, but Tuchel will be hoping for a number of quality additions in order to trouble champions-elect Manchester City at the top of the pile next season.

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