You might not have noticed, but all aspects of Chelsea’s defence this season have been…less than ideal.
We all know about the struggles of goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, but it’s important to remember that his defence in front of him have been about as useful as a chocolate teapot. From right to left, very few members of the Blues’ back line will emerge from this season feeling good.
It’s been a shambles. There has been very little aerial presence and minimal organisation, and there’s even a case to suggest that there has been a complete lack of that champion’s mentality – three things Chelsea have lacked since John Terry and even Gary Cahill left the club.
There’s a lot of talk suggesting that Chelsea see West Ham United’s Declan Rice as the heir to Terry’s throne at Stamford Bridge, but that’s a deal which would come with a lot of risks. Rice is still just 21 years old and is not yet an elite talent (although he may well get there in the future). Chelsea need somebody to come in and make a major impact right now.
Chelsea need someone like José Giménez.
Frank Lampard is looking for somebody with experience at the highest level – someone who can take control of a game when things get ugly – but also somebody who would fit into the rebuild dynamic going on at the Bridge. We’re looking for a young, yet seasoned player.
Someone of that ilk very rarely bursts on to the scene. To be that special mix, a player would have to join an elite side at 18 and become a core part of the team almost immediately.
Fortunately, that’s exactly what Giménez did.
Since moving to Atlético Madrid in 2013, the Uruguay international has gone from strength to strength. Initially learning from the great Diego Godín, Giménez quickly figured out what it takes to hang at the top level.
‘Just defending’ was never enough for Godín, who was willing to put his body on the line for his team, and now ‘just defending’ is not good enough for Giménez. It’s all about doing whatever it takes to stop a goal, regardless of what may happen afterwards.
Chelsea fans saw that with Terry, who was famously willing to try and make tackles with his head if needed. Recovering possession was so important to the Englishman that it didn’t even matter to him if he picked up a serious injury.
It’s that level of intensity, that lead-by-example mentality, which Chelsea don’t currently possess at the back. Antonio Rüdiger, Kurt Zouma, Andreas Christensen and Fikayo Tomori all have their strengths, but you can’t call any of them born leaders.
Regardless of which duo (or trio) Lampard opts to deploy, Chelsea seem to lack structure at the back, and their aerial presence is almost non-existant. When a cross comes into the box, the Blues are nowhere to be seen, and it’s no coincidence they are among the Premier League’s worst sides at defending set pieces.
Rice could offer the protection Chelsea need, but the problem is that he might not. As a young player with comparatively little experience at the top, top level, it still feels like sort of a gamble. With Giménez, it’s much more secure.
You don’t become a mainstay in Diego Simeone’s defence unless you really deserve it. There’s arguably no better defensive coach in the game, and if Giménez is good enough for El Cholo, he’s easily good enough for Chelsea.
It’s an expensive deal, but for the kind of player Chelsea want (and need), you have to pay up. Everybody wants someone like Giménez, but this summer, very few teams can actually afford someone like Giménez. It’s time for Roman Abramovich to ruin football once more.
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