Graham Potter is unconvinced by Chelsea’s newest centre-back Kalibou Koulibaly and is already looking to sign his replacement: Monaco’s Benoit Badiashile.
The 21-year-old has been receiving rave reviews for his aggressive, yet mature displays for the Ligue 1 outfit, with Chelsea now edging closer to getting a winter transfer over the line.
One of his big admirers is French football expert and Sky Sports pundit Jonathon Johnson, who has dubbed Badiashile as a ‘top defender for the future.’
Chelsea signed their current centre-half Koulibaly from Napoli for £33m last summer, but after some lacklustre performances, Potter is already eyeing defensive reinforcements to back up the 30-year-old.
TEAMtalk reported yesterday that Chelsea are ‘close’ to securing a deal for Monaco’s Badiashile for around £35m, but Sky pundit Johnson revealed earlier today that a higher price tag has now been set by Monaco.
Speaking to Sky Sports, he said: “The latest on him (Badiashile) in France at this moment in time is that this is interest from Chelsea. Monaco looking to extract as big a fee as possible.
“It’s not an ideal time for them to let go of him given how their domestic season is going so far. Monaco are far from guaranteed a Champions League berth at this time, and he will be key to rectifying that.
“So it sounds like Monaco are pushing upwards of £50 million in terms of a fee to do business now, but obviously that would mean Monaco would have to look for a replacement as well to try and identify a way to fill the gap.
“That’s not going to be easy to do, especially when clubs know that you have money in your coffers once you do a deal of this size.
“So I don’t think Monaco have absolutely made up their minds, but they are wary that they might be able to cash in to a greater effect now than if they were to leave it until the summer given that his contract is not particularly lengthily.”
Indeed, it seems that Chelsea may have to pay in the region of £50m to get their man, but if Badiashile ends up being a long-term replacement for Thiago Silva, he will be worth every penny.
Badiashile is a ‘polished Kurt Zouma,’ says Johnson
While Johnson admits that Badiashile is not necessarily the finished article yet, he has no doubt that he could become one of the world’s best if given time to develop his skills in the English topflight.
He added: “Badiashile is a very talented player. Somebody who I expect to develop into a top defender in the future. I wouldn’t necessarily say he’s as Premier League-ready as some players that we’ve seen come from France to Premier League sides.
“I don’t think he’s necessarily at the level of a Saliba just yet. I liken him more to a bit more polished version of Kurt Zouma when he arrived in the Premier League. I do think he’ll need time to develop to find is feet but he certainly has that attribute to succeed in the Premier League.
“His build lends himself to being good in the air. He’s not uncomfortable with the ball at his feet either. So he is somebody who I think would be tailormade to the Premier League.
“Logically, he is definitely a player for the future. Thiago Silva, especially after the World Cup now, it’s difficult to put a finger on exactly how long he is able to keep going at the highest level. He is obviously an evergreen player but the assumption would be he’ll probably be moving on sooner rather than later.”
It’s unclear whether Monaco will allow Badiashile to leave in the January window, however, the rumours linking him with a switch to Chelsea have only intensified in recent days.
Potter will be keen to get the deal over the line as soon as possible, as he looks to bolster Chelsea’s squad for what will be a crucial second half of the season for him and his team.
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