Bayern Munich’s £31m call increases pressure on Chelsea response as clause expiration nears


For a brief period, it looked like Niklas Sule could have provided a summer boost to Chelsea's defensive contract concerns after Bayern Munich confirmed his departure last month. The defender, valued at £31m by TransferMarkt , had been linked to Stamford Bridge for many years and rumours sprung up again when Thomas Tuchel was appointed in 2021.

But on Monday afternoon, hopes of Sule joining were dashed when Borussia Dortmund confirmed they had agreed to sign the 26-year-old for next season. Sule is one of the Blues defensive targets for this summer chalked off, further increasing the chase for Sevilla's Jules Kounde, a player who is expected to move this year.

The cloud over Stamford Bridge since the start of this season has only grown bigger as each week has passed. Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen and Cesar Azpilicueta have all yet to sign new deals with the club. Thiago Silva is the only player who began the season with a year left of his contract to agree to an extension.

But the leading trio is set to depart at the time of writing, and little appears to suggest anything drastic will change in the next month. Azpilicueta's situation may appear less pressing and informal given his standing as captain and longevity within the club. After ten years of service in west London, a departure would see him leave with great affection and an incredible legacy of silverware.

But it is the younger pair of Rudiger and Christensen who have always taken more interest, given they both are players of high value. Christensen is an academy graduate who came of age under Thomas Tuchel last year in the Champions League winning run. He is three years younger than Rudiger and is arguably a few years away from reaching his peak.

Rudiger has enjoyed a remarkable transformation under Tuchel, quickly becoming one of Europe's top defenders on current form. Rudiger has enjoyed more minutes this season than Christensen and, given his current standing, will be a hard player to replace in the market if he was to depart at the end of his contract in June.

But we are reaching a point now where Marina Granovskaia and the club cannot afford to be reactive. The costs of waiting on their current defenders to decide their future could see them miss out on key targets or be left with more work to do.

There seems to be a general confidence Kounde will become a Chelsea player after the deal was pretty close last summer, but like any transfer, until the player is holding the shirt, anything is possible. Other contingency plans could be to look elsewhere in the market at other targets mentioned or to promote Levi Colwill after he returns from his loan at Huddersfield.

Trevoh Chalobah's breakthrough and a new contract has slightly eased tensions and gave Chelsea more time, but as the clock has run down, the pressure to resolve doubt over three players has only grown with more speculation. Sule might inadvertently be a domino falling that provokes Chelsea to react swiftly.

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