It would not be a shock to see Chelsea sign Sevilla defender Jules Kounde in 2022, given the club’s clear pursuit of him in 2021 and the constant reports since suggesting he remains high on Marina Granovskaia’s wishlist.
He might not be the only defender on his way to SW6, with Bayern Munich announcing that their defender Niklas Sule will be departing the Allianz Arena at the end of his contract next summer.
In previous months, the 26-year-old has been linked with Chelsea with the obvious German link and the reality that three of the club’s current defenders are out of contract this year.
As Adam Newson covered earlier this week, he is not a new name on the Blues radar, looking back to the 2016 summer window when Antonio Conte had just arrived preceding the incredible title-winning season.
As Newson details, “Sule was Conte’s first-choice target. He was 21 and valued at around £25million by Hoffenheim, and Chelsea were prepared to match that figure.”
“A deal appears straightforward enough. However, after being approached by the Premier League giants, Sule opted to stay in Germany.”
Six years later, Chelsea might be able to secure a deal for the highly-rated German defender who is now looking for his next club.
Sule has been linked to Chelsea since Tuchel arrived 12 months ago, as many Bundesliga players have.
But his quality is clear, and he could prove a cheaper option to Marina Granovskaia with the reality of three defenders leaving without a fee.
He has made 25 appearances for Julian Nagelsmann this season, showing versatility as a centre back and a right-back. This versatility makes him a good fit for Tuchel, who has veered between a three-man and four-man defence in the past month.
Despite standing at 195cm’s, which would make him taller than any of Chelsea’s current defenders, the German international can be deceptively quick even with his imposing frame. His comfort on the ball and ability to switch play also seems suited to how Chelsea brings the ball out.
A brief overview of Sule compared to Tuchel’s current options demonstrates his accuracy in long passes with 72.31%, the closest at Chelsea being Thiago Silva with 70.98%.
Both Thiago Silva and Antonio Rudiger have proven very effective in providing pinpoint diagonal passes to find wingbacks Ben Chilwell and Reece James earlier in the season.
At 26, he is hitting his prime as a defender and has comfort defending in a team that dominates many games. It is probably unsurprising with his height he has higher aerial duels won percentage than any of Rudiger, Cesar Azpilicueta, Andreas Christensen, Silva and Trevoh Chalobah.
I wouldn’t rule Kounde out yet, given his reported willingness last summer to join Chelsea and Marina’s commitment to getting the best deal. And with maybe several defenders leaving, there would be room for Sule to join.