Wesley Fofana injury: Chelsea's transfer options to replace record signing

Robin Bairner
Robin Bairner 6 Oct 2022 09:37 BST 11 min read
Jurrien Timber, Ajax, 2022/23

Chelsea could find themselves back in the transfer market for a central defender this January should Wesley Fofana’s knee injury prove to be serious.

The Blues’ record defensive signing left the field in tears during their 3-0 Champions League win over Milan on Wednesday and subsequently limped out of Stamford Bridge on crutches.

Chelsea manager Graham Potter, meanwhile, did not seem optimistic over the fitness of the 21-year-old, who already missed much of last term after breaking his leg in a pre-season friendly.

Asked about the injury, he said: “We don't know yet, we scan tomorrow. Fingers crossed. I wouldn't want to speculate on it now but we're concerned and hope for the best.”

If it proves a significant enough setback for Fofana that he is out for months, it will force Chelsea back into the transfer market this January. They had already chased central defensive reinforcements this summer but had turned their eyes to offensive arrivals. Now, they are forced to look to their defence once more.

Here are three potential replacements for Fofana.

Milan Skriniar – Inter

Chelsea were linked with the defender lightly in the summer, but expect those rumours to build again. Skriniar is out of contract with Inter in 2023, and with the Nerazzurri experiencing a difficult campaign the temptation to leave must be there. He has, however, a strong relationship with the club and has long been expected to sign new terms to ensure Inter at least get a fair fee if he leaves.

Josko Gvardiol – RB Leipzig

Josko Gvardiol is a powerful young centre-back who is equally happy playing on the left of a back three as he is on the flank, something that would be ideal for Graham Potter's Chelsea. Still only 20, the left-footer is an asset on both sides of the ball, averaging three interceptions per 90 minutes in the Bundesliga last season, but also five progressive carries and passes. Currently valued at €36 million by Football Transfers, his value could double if he were to continue his trajectory at Stamford Bridge.

Gvardiol’s performance v Bundesliga centre-backs 2021/22

-+ Josko Gvardiol

Jurrien Timber -Ajax

Timber was wanted by Manchester United in the summer but ultimately remained at Ajax. Already, though, the hype is starting to build around the Netherlands international centre-back once more, and if he has a strong World Cup that will only intensify. Of course, Ajax will not want to give up yet another star player, particularly in the middle of the season. The 21-year-old Timber will move to a big club sooner rather than later, but perhaps this chance might just come six months too soon for him.

Fikayo Tomori – Milan

Tomori is likely to be linked with a move back to Chelsea, who have been the club most prone to allowing promising talent to leave only to buy it back for big money a short while later. Their experience with Romelu Lukaku is the most startling recent example. Tomori, though, will be difficult to bring back to Stamford Bridge as he is a favourite in Italy with Milan and has a contract that runs to 2027. It would take an astronomical bid well above his market value.