Moses and Zappacosta have been below-par for Chelsea this season, the Blues would need a better right-back next season.
One of the best moves in Chelsea’s title-winning run in the 2016/2017 season was the deployment of Victor Moses as a right wing-back in a 3-4-3 formation by manager Antonio Conte.
This formation allowed the Italian manager to make adequate use of Moses’ pace and strengths to stretch opponents down the right flank while being able to do his defensive work away from the 18 yard-box (as he is not a specialist right back).
The 27-year-old’s stats of 3 goals and 2 assists that season do not tell the full story as he had a tackling accuracy of 81% and was brilliant both defensively and offensively.
Last summer, the Blues signed Italian wing-back Davide Zappacosta from Serie A side Torino for £23m to add options for what was supposed to be an assault on both the Premier League and the UEFA Champions League.
The Italian has been average since he joined, while Moses has also been poor so for the Blues to get back their mojo next season, one of Moses or Zappacosta would have to leave while a better player is brought in.
Here are 5 talented right full-backs/wing-backs the Blues might target this summer:
#5 Elseid Hysaj (Napoli)
The 24-year-old Hysaj has been one of Napoli’s standout performers ever since he followed manager Maurizio Sarri to the San Paolo from Empoli in 2015.
He is an attacking full-back who is comfortable being deployed on either flank but, has mostly played as a traditional right-back for the Partenopei in a 4-3-3- system.
His pace and agility have allowed him to play a central role for a dynamic Napoli side in both offensive and defensive positions.
Constantly roving down the flank and offering width especially when one of the inside forwards, usually Jose Callejon cuts inside, he is a skilled dribbler who is very capable of providing measured crosses for attackers.
Although like most modern fullbacks, he enjoys galloping forward, Hysaj is a player who remains diligent in his defensive duties, showing the awareness needed to know when to track back and defend as well as the opportune moment for bombing forward to join the attack.
He would be a significant upgrade to either of Moses or Zappacosta given his better understanding of defending coupled with his age and zest. His stats for the season have been okay but with a buyout clause of €50m, he will not come cheap.
#4 Rick Karsdorp (AS Roma)
Regular watchers of Serie A may find it strange that a player who has hardly played this season as a result of a horrible ACL injury is on this list. But, such is the Dutchman’s talent and if he were to sign for the Blues, the club would be getting a bargain.
A product of Feyenoord’s famed academy, the 23-year-old had spent much of his days in the academy as a central midfielder which had allowed him to develop grit and strength as well as technical skills that have served him well since he was moved to the right back position.
He is a modern full-back, who is also comfortable functioning in a wing-back position as his pace and agility allow him to be a threat up front as he is a brilliant crosser of the ball.
He is also quite strong physically and would be a great asset to a Chelsea side that has been over-reliant on Cesar Azpilicueta’s mopping up abilities this season given the poor performances of the two right wing-backs.
Karsdorp will offer the same pace as Moses does but with Zappacosta’s crossing abilities, a 2-in-1 bargain. Given that he was signed last summer by the Gialiorossi for €19m, expect the Romans to demand at least twice the amount they purchased him for.
#3 Benjamin Henrichs (Bayer Leverkusen)
Playing in a position where the requirements seem to be increasing by the season, there are few that have elicited as much interest as the young German and it seems to be a question of when and where to rather than if he leaves the Bay Arena for one of Europe’s leading lights.
A speedy defender who is as adept going forward as he is comfortable defending, the 21-year old, was reportedly the original target for Pep Guardiola in filling the problematic right-back role at Manchester City before the Catalan genius settled on Kyle Walker for nationality and experience-in-the league reasons.
An accomplished player who combines speed and aggressiveness with the ability to perform effectively in different roles, the thrice-capped German international has not made as many starts as expected this season; only 11 in the Bundesliga so far but he has more than shown his abilities in the 23 times he has appeared.
His pace and agility mean that he would be able to get up and down the Chelsea right flank and will help the team be less susceptible to counter attacks next season.
According to certain reports, he is said to be already on the Blues radar and it is said he could cost a reasonable sum of £31m.
#2 Álvaro Odriozola (Real Sociedad)
Regular watchers of La Liga will have seen why time and again the big clubs have been linked to the 22-year-old Real Sociedad right-back. The Spaniard is one of the most talented young players in a league filled with young talents and ever since he was called up by L Furia Roja last year, his performances have only gotten better.
Blessed with blistering speed and a superb crossing ability, he has been one of the most dangerous fullbacks in the league and would fit in perfectly in either a conventional 4-man defense or in a wingback system where fullbacks are regarded as key to both attacking and defensive moves.
Right-back has been a difficult-to-fill position for Chelsea for a while now since the exit of Jose Bosingwa and since the manager; Conte decided to switch Azpilicueta to a right center-back position (a role he has interpreted with distinction)
Odriozola has had a barnstorming season for La Real and has been one of the team’s standout performers in what has been a topsy-turvy season for the Basque club.
Said to have a release clause of €40m, meeting it will not be a problem for the Blues and given his age and ability, it could be the perfect signing for the Stamford Bridge giants.
#1 Hector Bellerin (Arsenal)
A surprise inclusion on the list, given the rivalry between Arsenal and Chelsea but, with the exit of Arsene Wenger and Bellerin’s rumoured desire to want to leave the North London club, a deal could be done.
He has been a shadow of himself this season . The 2017/2018 version of the 22-year-old has been a watered down version of the rampaging ball of fury that forcefully made the Arsenal right-back position his when he burst unto the scene for the Gunners in 2014.
However, one bad season does not make him a terrible player all of a sudden. His pace, intelligence, and ability stood him out when he burst onto the scene following the Gunners struggles at right back and has made the position his ever since.
His pace means the Blues in signing him would get a player who is already used to playing either in a traditional 4-man defence or in Conte’s favoured 4-man midfield combo.
The Blues counter-attacking would also go up a notch because with Bellerin on one side and January signing Emerson Palmieri on the other side, Chelsea would have the pace to burn, this would give the creative players like Eden Hazard or Cesc Fabregas more options to aim for.
Given Arsenal’s need for rebuilding and the London rivalry, the Spaniard will not come cheap and the Blues might have to pay through the nose to get him to West London.