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Chelsea are being strongly linked with a move for Lazio’s Stefan de Vrij. After complications surrounding the deal for Kalidou Koulibaly, a cut-price move could be on the cards. Let’s check out the move in depth.

The Blues have made no secret of their interest in Kalidou Koulibaly in recent weeks, and Football Italia reports that the Blues had a £42m bid rejected for the Senegal international.

Napoli have responded saying that the player isn’t for sale, which means it could be better to focus on a player that hasn’t had a hands off warning issued. Considering the fee it would take to part Koulibaly with his current club, it makes sense to switch up their targets to hone in on a player that would be a little more affordable.

Instead, Stefan de Vrij is the latest name to be linked with a move to Chelsea. The player would likely cost roughly £15m if the Blues his signature, although the signing should come with a caveat if it does happen.

Injuries are one of the main reasons why the Italian side would be willing to part with the player, following a serious knee injury that kept him out for most of last season.

It’s also one of the reasons why the club would be so willing to sell to an English side at a reduced fee, although it would still be great profit on a player that arrived from Feyenoord in 2014 for a fee of roughly €7m.

The player made a recent comeback in a 6-0 friendly win over Brazil, although it’s still unclear whether or not he’ll suffer any long-term effects, or whether he’ll be able to regain full fitness as he continues on the road to recovery.

The player was recently interviewed, and it’s clear that he wants another chance to show his worth in a Lazio shirt. Here’s what he had to say about his future and his return from injury;

“I think [Simone] Inzaghi is a good coach, he’s doing a good job. I loved the first week, I want to thank all the players who have said nice things to me. I always want to help my teammates, we have to be a squad.”

“When I came back to the pitch I was smiling all day, I couldn’t wait to wear this shirt again but I still have work to do because I’m not yet 100 per cent. I want to play in every match, I’ve missed the pitch a lot. I always want to help everyone, if there’s a new lad I’ll help him integrate.”

Stefan de Vrij

Considering that the interview was published just over a week ago, it’s probably fair to say that the player still hasn’t reached full fitness. He appears to be happy to make it work at his current club, but he has slipped down the pecking order following the injury that kept him out for so long.

de Vrij is a Dutch international, and he’s been a mainstay in the team over the past three years. He already has 30 caps, and he was named in the team of the tournament for the 2014 World Cup.

As for the Blues, they still seem to be a long way away from finding the formula for defensive solidarity. Then again, they do have most of the ingredients needed to form a solid foundation to build on.

Their hunt for a centre back has also led to rumours concerning Sweden international Victor Lindelof, who plays for Benfica. He’s even younger than the others mentioned previously, while he wouldn’t break the bank like Koulibaly.

(He also has none of the injury problems that make a deal for de Vrij seem a little dangerous.)

John Terry’s advancing years mean that he’s already accepted a smaller role in the first team, while Kurt Zouma is still recovering from a knee injury that left his side short of defensive options towards the run in.

Sources close to the player suggest Gary Cahill has been worried about his long-term future at the club, while Matt Miazga is expected to have more of a role to play since signing in January.

When Zouma makes it back to full fitness they’re unlikely to have many worries defensively, but it makes sense to shore up their backline with an addition that would fit in well the current squad.

Whether they sign a player to increase strength in depth, or one for the future, it’s clear that they’re in the market for a talented young centre back. An index rating of 4.7 shows that there could be more to it than the usual paper talk, and an update is expected in the next few days.

Chelsea’s tenth place finish last term exemplified the loss of solidity throughout the team, so supporters will be hoping that new coach Antonio Conte can get them back in contention for the title.

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