Exclusive - Chelsea are ready to join the chase for coveted Villarreal defender Pau Torres, 90min understands.
The European champions are looking at new defensive options for 2022, which could see them make a move for two new centre-backs.
Chelsea allowed Kurt Zouma to join West Ham United in the summer transfer window and were in the market for Sevilla’s Jules Kounde. While they were unable to strike a deal, the Blues remain keen on the Frenchman.
However, Torres is now another player they are tracking. The 24-year-old is one of the most highly-regarded defenders in Spain, and was the man Manchester United were considering moving for before Raphael Varane became available from Real Madrid.
Torres’ stock has risen rapidly in the past 12 months, with the defender featuring for Spain at both Euro 2020 and the Olympics. He has also started the current season well, helping Villarreal to two clean sheets in three games prior to the Champions League trip to Old Trafford on Wednesday.
Chelsea’s scouts have issued glowing reports on the player and Torres is now very much in their thinking.
Chelsea’s situation is complicated by the fact current incumbents Thiago Silva, Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger are all out of contract at the end of the season.
Talks are going well with Christensen and the club expect his new deal to be signed before the end of the year, while Thiago is yet to decide whether he will carry on – although the 37-year-old has been playing well and the indications are that he could carry on until 2023.
However, the biggest issue is with Rudiger. As 90min revealed, talks over a renewal are proving problematic, with Chelsea not offering the German international a deal worth anywhere near what he wants as yet. He is looking to become one of the club’s highest-paid players.
Rudiger could well depart in 2022, with interest in him from the likes of Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain.
Another player who continues to be of interest to Chelsea is Rudiger’s international teammate Niklas Sule, who is out of contract in Bavaria himself next summer.