Chelsea are closing in on the £50million signing of Leicester defender Ben Chilwell, according to reports.
The England left-back, 23, had been touted as manager Frank Lampard’s number one defensive target this summer as the Stamford Bridge legend looked to bolster a defence that leaked 79 goals in all competitions last season.
With Marcos Alonso and Emerson Palmieri out of favour under Lampard, left-back was seen as a problem position that needed filling urgently and it was known early on that Chilwell was the man that Chelsea wanted.
Leicester initially quoted a fee of around £80million, using Harry Maguire as a precedent for selling their best defenders. However after failing to make the Champions League next season and with COVID-19 still among us, they have had to drop their fee knowing that the player is keen on the move also.
Chelsea have moved quickly to complete their business so far this season, completing deals for Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech before the 2019/20 season was over and they are close to signing Kai Havertz as well from Bayer Leverkusen.
With centre-back reportedly the final piece of the puzzle for Lampard, once the deals for Chilwell and Havertz are complete all attention will reportedly turn to Declan Rice of West Ham. The Hammers will undoubtedly ask for an exorbitant fee for the talisman, but with a few protracted sales I wouldn’t rule out Chelsea getting the deal done.
Chilwell burst into the Leicester side following their Premier League title win, displacing title-winner Christian Fuchs as the first choice left-back. Since then, he has also displaced Danny Rose and Luke Shaw as England’s first choice defender in that position too.
Despite the accolades, I have quite a few revisions about Chilwell. While he has good pace and is fairly good going forward I struggle to see what, if any, stand-out attributes he has that make him so highly sought after with a £50million fee.
Positionally Chilwell gets caught out fairly often, which has led to Caglar Soyuncu and Harry Maguire earning big credit for their defensive work alongside him in recent years. He has a good delivery, he’s good on the overlap, he’s good one-on-one but he doesn’t seem to excel at anything in particular. At 23 years old there is plenty for him to improve on and he has the time to do so, but he just doesn’t blow me away personally.
Undoubtedly, he is an upgrade on Chelsea’s current options so I understand the want to sign him this summer. However, paying a £50million fee should see you able to obtain the best in the world in that position. Bearing in mind the current world-record fee for a full-back is £51million on Benjamin Mendy by Manchester City, Chelsea should be able to do much better than Chilwell especially in the current COVID-effected market.
That said, he’s young, British and fits in well with Lampard’s current squad in terms of personality and character. Lampard is obviously confident he can get something more from Chilwell and if that’s the case, Chelsea fans should be relatively excited about the upgrades they’re getting this summer.