In a summer dominated by inflated prices and huge transfers, Antonio Conte has made no hesitation in adjusting his squad to prepare his side for both the Premier League and the Champions League next season.
The Blues have already spent £120m on bringing players to the club, but they have also made over £100m by selling off other squad players, which could easily go up by another £60m when Diego Costa is sold.
One position where Chelsea have seen a lot of departures is the centre-back role, a position Conte values ever so highly because of his favoured three-man defensive shape.
So far, former Captain John Terry has left the club to join Aston Villa and Nathan Ake was sold to Bournemouth.
There has also been the usual stream of loanees leaving the Bridge with Kurt Zouma going to Stoke, Michael Hector joining Hull City, Matt Miazga heading to Vitesse in Holland and Tomas Kalas joining fellow south-west Londoners, Fulham.
That makes six players who could have possibly been a back-up for Gary Cahill, David Luiz and César Azpilicueta, who gelled well last season as a solid three at the back.
Conte has brought in German international Antonio Rudiger to add strength to his group of defenders. The tall centre-back is comfortable playing in a three-man back line as he played there many times for Roma in the Serie A in the previous two seasons.
Chelsea need for Virgil van Dijk
However, if Chelsea do experience injury problems at the back, or if they simply want to rotate the squad to meet the demands of both domestic and European football, then they will need at least one other centre-back to strengthen his squad.
The Blues are heavily linked with Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk to fill this void. The Dutch defender impressed last season with the Saints, drawing interested from top Premier League teams with Chelsea and Liverpool both particularly keen to sign him.
Van Dijk started his professional career at Dutch side Groningen before moving on to play for Celtic in the Scottish Premier League. He was then snapped up by Southampton in 2015 for £13m.
How van Dijk compares to Chelsea’s back three
In comparison to Chelsea’s back line last season, statistically, Van Dijk can hold is own. The Dutchman committed fewer fouls than any of the other three with 18 altogether, compared to Luiz’s 29, Cahill’s 33 and Azpilicueta’s 27.
He also lost fewer tackles, with a total of 25 (Luiz 39, Cahill, 34 and Azpilicueta’s 73).
His pass completion was 84%, which was exactly the same as David Luiz, who developed into a vital part of Conte’s defence due to his ability on the ball.
Van Dijk made one major defensive error, one less than Cahill. He also made more interceptions than Cahill (56 to Cahill’s 51) and won more tackles than Luiz (30 to Luiz’s 28).
Under Conte’s guidance
If Chelsea do manage to sign the defender, Conte is undoubtedly a great manager for any young centre-back to work with and to improve their in-game understanding and intelligence.
At only 26-years-old, Van Dijk has all the assets to make him a brilliant defender for Chelsea and would be seen as a long-term investment, to replace either Cahill or Luiz who are both into their 30s.
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