Ben Chilwell missed the majority of the 2021/22 season due to a serious knee ligament injury. Chelsea really felt the absence of England left-back for the last six months of the season, but he did make a long-awaited return against Watford on the final day of the campaign.
Chilwell had shown excellent form for the Blues up until the injury he suffered against Juventus in the Champions League. Thomas Tuchel was then forced to recall Kenedy from his loan spell to provide back-up to Marcos Alonso.
Now, with the season over, Alonso looks set to leave the club. Barcelona are firm favorites to land the Spaniard’s signature, which would end the 31-year-old’s almost six-year stay at Stamford Bridge.
READ MORE: Thomas Tuchel to snub Marc Cucurella £ 45m transfer amid desperate Chelsea squad rebuild mission
According to Mundo Deportivo, negotiations are advanced between Barcelona and Chelsea for a deal regarding Alonso. He is expected to leave the Blues for a relatively modest fee with just over 12 months remaining on his contract at the Bridge.
This leaves Tuchel with somewhat of a dilemma at left-back, or left wing-back in this case. It remains to be seen what the fitness of Chilwell will be like in the 2022/23 season, but slight knocks might be expected due to his serious injury.
With no Alonso about, a solid backup option is required. football.london understands Chelsea are interested in signing Marc Cucurella from Brighton & Hove Albion.
The 23-year-old signed for the Seagulls last summer for around £ 16million from Getafe. In his debut season in England, Cucurella made 35 appearances in the Premier League and impressed while doing so.
The Spaniard was used in both the left-back role and left midfield position under Graham Potter. His more impressive performances have arguably been on the left-hand side of defense.
Chelsea are not the only club interested in Cucurella, though, with a number of other big clubs understood to be keeping a close eye on his situation at the Amex Stadium. As well as this, Brighton would demand a similar fee to what they sold Ben White to Arsenal for last summer – around £ 50m, football.london has been told.
It’s not yet clear, but that would likely put Chelsea off pursuing any deal for Cucurella. It seems the Spaniard is keen on moving away, though. Manchester City have also been linked to the left-back, but there hasn’t been any contact with Pep Guardiola as of yet.
Speaking to Jijantes, via Manchester Evening News, Cucurella said: “The goal [at Brighton] was to develop so the big clubs can take notice. But if the opportunity arises, you have to take advantage of it.
“There are teams that you can not say no to. No, sincerely no [Guardiola has not called]. Of course, there are rumors.
“If people are talking like this about you, it’s a good thing. We’re calm; the most important thing right now is to rest.”
Despite all the Cucurella talk, football.london understands that Borna Sosa is a much more viable option for the Blues ahead of the summer transfer window. Sosa still has over three years left to run on his contract with VfB Stuttgart, but after a tremendous season in the Bundesliga, he is attracting interest from Chelsea. The 24-year-old left-back scored once and assisted eight times in the German top-flight over the 2021/22 season.
For an alternative to Chilwell, the Sosa deal perhaps makes more sense than Chelsea splashing out in the region of £ 50m to sign Cucurella. Brighton boss Potter also admitted recently that the Seagulls might not have any other choice than to sell their key players for the “economic position of the club”.
“The narrative in the media is you need to keep hold of your players, and I understand why that is, because that’s just sensible,” Potter said earlier in the month. “But there is a hierarchy in football and a reality of finances in football, so we can not sit here and say, ‘Yep, we’re going to keep all of our players between now and five years’ time’, because clearly , that puts a huge strain on the economic position of the club.
“It’s important for us to keep moving that forward, that’s a way we compete, I think. Selling Ben [White] for £ 50m and getting better is how we can compete in the system.
“It’s about selling the right player at the right time for the right price, and I think we’re quite good at that, or we have been recently. I’ve absolute confidence in the club in terms of finding the right solution to go forward. “
Chelsea may stay away from Cucurella, though, and they could perhaps look closer to home for their back-up left-back. Ian Maatsen enjoyed a fine season on loan at Coventry City.
In 39 Championship appearances, the 20-year-old scored three goals and provided one assist. Another loan may be on the cards for Maatsen, but Chelsea may consider using him on the odd occasion next season.