Tuchel comments after Chelsea wrap up deal for Lukaku return
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Chelsea have made it no secret that they want to strengthen in the centre-back department over the summer transfer window – but after the sensational form of Trevoh Chalobah at the start of this season, they may just halt that search for a while.
Thomas Tuchel’s side had been linked with Sevilla’s Jules Kounde and Wolfsburg’s Maxence Lacroix in past weeks, as they looked to add youthful excellence to their defence.
Yet with Kounde rumoured to be commanding a fee of over £68million and Lacroix a fee not too dissimilar, Tuchel looked closer to home – and unearthed a gem in his own academy.
Chalobah, who marked his Chelsea league debut with a goal from 30 yards in last weeks win against Crystal Palace, would never have seen his meteoric rise coming even at the end of last season.
The centre-back, who has been in the academy at Cobham since the age of just eight, has been out on loan for the past three seasons, at Ipswich Town, Huddersfield Town and French side Lorient respectively.
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And, following the Blues’ UEFA Champions League win back in May, it appeared that there were many centre-backs ranking ahead of Chalobah in the pecking order.
Thiago Silva, Antonio Rudiger, Kurt Zouma and Andreas Christensen were all ahead of the Sierra Leone-born defender, with Fikayo Tomori and Marc Guehi set to return from separate loan deals themselves.
However, with Tomori and Guehi being sold and Kurt Zouma rumoured for a move away – alongside some superb pre-season performances from Chalobah – a whirlwind few months saw him fast-tracked into the starting XI.
And, having kept a clean sheet and scored a long-range effort last weekend, Thomas Tuchel is reportedly so keen on the defender that he is set to offer him a new contract on vastly improved terms.
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The defender only has two years left on his contract at Stamford Bridge, and with his stock increasing after his exceptional performances against Palace and in the UEFA Super Cup against Villarreal, Tuchel is keen to tie down the 22-year-old to a new bumper deal to ensure his long-term future in west London.
According to Goal, it was thought Chalobah was set to be listed up for loan yet again, as is the case with various Chelsea youngsters.
French champions Lille, Spanish giants Valencia and Belgian side Club Brugge had all shown an interest in the 6″3 defender, but their efforts have been knocked back by the Blues as they look set to keep their man.
Despite this, there is a chance that Chelsea could still sign Jules Kounde from Sevilla this summer for £68m – but this would leave an over-suppliance of central defenders, with seven senior players including Chalobah and fellow academy graduate Ethan Ampadu.
If Kounde was to arrive, it could mean the sale of Kurt Zouma to city rivals Tottenham Hotspur.
However, it remains to be seen whether Zouma would be willing to move to Spurs.
Chelsea continue their Premier League campaign with an away trip to Arsenal this weekend.
The two have had differing campaigns, given that Arsenal lost 2-0 to newly-promoted Brentford in the season’s opener last Friday.
And, with Romelu Lukaku having signed for Thomas Tuchel’s men last week for a fee of £97.5m, it is expected Chelsea will pile the pressure upon under-fire Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta.
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