Chelsea are reportedly eager to sign Wesley Fofana this summer as they look to rebuild their defense following the departures of Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen.
Although the club do possess Trevoh Chalobah & Levi Colwill, both players still need some valuable experience before they can fit into the first-team squad at Chelsea.
Hence, it is no surprise that Colwill has already left on loan to join Brighton & Hove Albion, while Chalobah could still seal a move away.
Chelsea shall need to spend the big bucks to sign Wesley Fofana
Leicester City are adamant on not letting Fofana leave the club this summer as he only penned a new deal at the club earlier this year. However, if he is to leave, it is reportedly going to take a record fee for a defender (>£80 million) to sign him.
In such a scenario, Chelsea can instead look at some cheaper alternatives who can perform at the same level as Fofana.
On that note, let's take a look at five cheaper alternatives Chelsea should look to sign instead of Wesley Fofana.
#5 Inigo Martinez
Inigo Martinez has been one of the standout centre-backs in La Liga since joining Athletic Bilbao in 2018.
The versatile defender, who is capable of playing as a right-sided and left-sided centre-back, can also play as a left-back. Although his passing under pressure could use some work, he can play his way out of a press. Moreover, although he is 31 already, he has plenty of experience that can be of great use to Chelsea.
Hence, it is no surprise that Barcelona are eager to land him on a free transfer (as per Diario Sport) next year as his contract shall be up by then. However, Chelsea can swoop him up for a reasonable fee, given his contract situation at the Spanish club.
Fofana is far younger than Martinez but the latter could be a good fix for the team until Chalobah and Colwill mature into regular first-team players.
#4 Duje Caleta-Car
Duje Caleta-Car has been performing brilliantly at Marseille for the last three years and the 25-year-old certainly looks ready to step up to a bigger league.
Caleta-Car, who played for RB Salzburg during his developmental years, is a modern day centre-back and has an extremely good understanding of the game. An adept ball-playing defender with a great ability to track attackers, the Croatian helps Marseille play high up the pitch.
These abilities completely align with what Chelsea desire from a centre-back, thereby making Caleta-Car a potentially shrewd signing for the Blues. With the player only having a year left on his contract, Marseille are reportedly (as per L'Equipe) ready to let go of the defender this summer.
Hence, while Fofana is four years younger than Caleta-Car and has Premier League experience, the latter is at the peak of his career and is likely to slot in immediately.
#3 Benoit Badiashile
Benoit Badiashile, like Fofana, is one of the many young French defenders who are on the cusp of becoming a part of the national team.
However, unlike Fofana, Badiashile is yet to make a Premier League move after having impressed in Ligue 1. The centre-back, who was promoted to the first-team at AS Monaco in 2018, formed an integral part of the squad under Leonardo Jardim. Later he was also a regular under Robert Moreno and Niko Kovac and is excelling under new manager Philippe Clement.
But despite his stellar progress at the club, Badiashile only has two years left on his deal and is available for less than £42 million (as per L'Equipe) this summer. Chelsea have also apparently expressed an interest in the player but the move has not materialized so far.
Regardless, rather than spending nearly double the money on Fofana, signing a similar player for half the money is undoubtedly smarter.
#2 Manuel Akanji
Manuel Akanji has been one of the finest defenders in the Bundesliga since joining Borussia Dortmund from FC Basel in 2018.
To put his consistency into perspective, the Swiss defender has averaged nearly 40 games per season at the German club during his four years at Signal Iduna Park. During this period, he has developed into a scintillating centre-back who can not only be a leader at the back but also give his all week in week out.
However, Akanji could now be on the market with Dortmund signing Nico Schlotterback and Niklas Sule this summer. Additionally, youngster Soumaila Coulibaly will also be eager to break into the first team, while Mats Hummels remains a viable option as well.
Hence, Akanji, who is in the final year of his deal, could leave this summer and is reportedly a loan target for Juventus (as per Fabrizio Romano). The centre-back could come for cheap, especially since Dortmund are not resistant to letting him go, not to mention because of his contractual scenario.
Chelsea would be smart to hijack Juventus' move for the defender and bring Akanji to Stamford Bridge on a permanent move. Although he is five years older than Fofana, Chelsea would be delighted to have a centre-back who has Champions League experience.
#1 Pau Torres
Pau Torres has been on the cusp of a big move for the last two years. The Spaniard has found his place in the national squad while also driving Villarreal to a Europa League triumph in 2021.
Hence, it is rather surprising to see him still playing at the La Liga club, despite plenty of interest from multiple big names this summer. Chelsea were reportedly monitoring (as per Fabrizio Romano) a move for the player before they decided to turn their attention towards Fofana. But it is not a bad idea to revisit the idea of landing the defender, who has a release clause of around €55/60 million.
Torres has sufficient Champions League experience and is now a key part of the Luis Enrique-led Spanish national team. He also has a massive aerial presence and is a left-footed defender, which will allow the Blues to play Koulibaly on the right and Torres on the left of a back three. This will ensure more fluidity in the way Thomas Tuchel wants his side to play.
Moreover, the Spaniard is still only 25 and can play for nearly a decade, given the shelf life of a centre-back in world football. Chelsea will surely need additions at the back and they could spend less and arguably land a better defender than Fofana if they do opt to sign Torres this summer.