Axel Disasi Chelsea Transfer: How could the Blues line up with £38m defender

After a summer that has seen more departures than arrivals given the bloated nature of Chelsea’s squad and the absence of European football, the Blues have dived back into the transfer market this week to close a deal for a new defender. Axel Disasi arrives at Stamford Bridge from Monaco and given the club’s current injury problems in defence, he stands a good chance of going straight into the Chelsea line up.

This is a signing that would most likely not have happened had Wesley Fofana not got injured. The 22 year old centre-back recently had surgery on an ACL injury which ruled him out of the club’s pre-season tour of the USA and is likely to see him miss most of the upcoming Premier League season.

With Benoit Badiashile still fighting back to fitness given his own injury problems and Kalidou Koulibaly no longer at the club, Chelsea were looking light in central defence but Disasi provides a welcome new option. Mauricio Pochettino must now figure out how to incorporate the 25 year old into his plans as he gears up for his first competitive game as Chelsea boss which will be against Liverpool on the opening weekend of the Premier League season.

In the centre of Poch’s preferred back four

During his coaching career, Mauricio Pochettino has typically preferred to go with an orthodox back four and that’s how Chelsea are expected to start the season. Their selection problems in central defence have contributed to 20 year old defender Bashir Humphreys starting two of their three Premier League Summer Series games in the United States. 

Trevoh Chalobah, Levi Colwill and Thiago Silva have also featured Stateside but the addition of Disasi suggests that Poch is not fully convinced by his other central defensive options, at least not for this season. The likes of Humphreys and Chalobah could depart before the transfer window closes and Disasi has a strong chance of forging his way into the starting eleven.

Assuming it is a back four, Disasi will most likely feature as the right sided centre-back. In that case, left footed Badiashile would be his most natural partner. The good news for Chelsea is that the duo should already have built up a strong understanding given their time together at Monaco with Badiashile only departing the Ligue 1 club to join the Blues in January.

Chelsea back four

As a right-back

An alternative option would be to use Disasi as a right-back. The Frenchman is competent in the role and while it’s highly unlikely to be Pochettino’s Plan A, there may be situations where he decides a more defensive set-up is necessary.

He would be a very different right-back to Reece James who is expected to be the clear first choice in the role this season. Selecting Disasi over James would be a defensive option in games against strong opposition and particularly teams who are dangerous on the left.

Given the Chelsea boss is typically fairly positive in his approach, it’s unlikely we’ll see this too often. However should James be unavailable due to an injury or a suspension, it’s possible that we’ll see Disasi move across to right-back with 20 year old Malo Gusto the only other natural option in the role.

Chelsea back four

Could Chelsea use a back three?

Given the attacking nature of both Ben Chilwell and Reece James who are both arguably more effective as wing-backs rather than full-backs, a 3-5-2 system could also be employed at times. That’s not something we’d typically associate with a Pochettino team but it’s certainly possible that at some point during the 2023/24 season we’ll see Chelsea set up with a back three.

Given Fofana’s unavailability, it’s likely Disasi would line up on the right of the back three in that case with Badiashile and veteran Thiago Silva also taking their places in central defence. 20 year old Levi Colwill would also have a greater chance of forging his way into contention in this case with the promising defender expected to stay at Stamford Bridge despite interest from other Premier League clubs.

Chelsea back three