Chelsea’s search for defensive cover has become something of a desperate scramble as the transfer window begins to close.
The Blues have only added third-choice goalkeeper Eduardo since the early signings N’Golo Kanté and Michy Batshuayi, as concern begins to grow around Stamford Bridge about the lack of depth at the back.
Their pursuit of Napoli’s Kalidou Kouliably will come to nothing unless they significantly improve their £40m offer, while they have had two bids – reported to be around £30m and £35m – rejected by Milan for Italian under-21 international centre-back Alessio Romagnoli.
Left-back is also a concern for Chelsea manager Antonio Conte, and despite interest in Bundesliga-based Jonas Hector and Ricardo Rodríguez, multiple reports in England and Italy have stated that they have made a move for Fiorentina defender Marcos Alonso.
Sky in Italy say Chelsea have offered Fiorentina €20m (£17m) for left back Marcos Alonso. Played for Bolton 2010-13 & Sunderland (2014 loan)
— Kaveh Solhekol (@SkyKaveh) August 26, 2016
Conte said in a press conference yesterday that he was increasingly pessimistic about landing his first choice defensive targets – which will do wonders for the confidence of whoever they do buy – with just four days of the transfer window remaining.
Conte is looking to bring in a left-back as this would in turn allow César Azpilicueta, who has been occupying that role for some time, to return to his more natural position on the right.
Alonso consolidated his place in Fiorentina’s starting eleven last season in Paulo Sousa’s 3-4-1-2 formation – indeed his ability to play at wing back is probably what has drawn Conte to him, as that could well be the formation that he eventually implements at Stamford Bridge.
The 25-year-old is no stranger to England, having spent three years with Bolton in the early stages of his career as well as a half-season loan with Sunderland in 2014, though whether he is up to the standard that Conte and Chelsea are used to remains to be seen.
In fact, their sudden interest in the former Real Madrid full-back is a sign of their increased desperation to add new defenders before Wednesday’s deadline.
It’s a desperation that Fiorentina can very much sense – although Chelsea have come in with a €20m offer, La Viola are currently demanding €25m for Alsonso’s services.
Meanwhile, Conte’s search for a centre back goes on. The pursuit of Koulibaly and/or Romagnoli continues, with reported interest in Torino’s Nikola Maksimovic and Stefan De Vrij of Lazio seen as contingency plans.