Chelsea have kicked off their pursuit for a new defensive leader as they reportedly made an informal approach to Borussia Dortmund captain and 2014 World Cup winner Mats Hummels, as veteran John Terry’s career at Stamford Bridge draws to a close.
The German is also a top priority target for Manchester United, while Liverpool were also linked with him.
According to a report from Sport Bild, the struggling Premier League champions have already contacted Hummels’ father, Hermann, who apparently acts as an agent for the defender.
Chelsea’s defensive weaknesses have been terribly exposed this season. Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois has even revealed he prefers playing behind Belgium’s back four than this Chelsea defence. So the Stamford Bridge hierarchy desperately looking to replace outgoing captain, Terry.
There are still many doubts over Gary Cahill’s quality at the highest level, while Kurt Zouma is still too raw to handed out such a role and needs guidance from an experienced leader.
Hummels, who is still widely seen as one of the best defenders in Europe, has been heavily linked with Manchester United over the past few transfer windows, while rumours of a move to Liverpool reignited when Jurgen Klopp took charge at Anfield.
However, the rumours have died down considerably, especially where United are concerned.
Any move for the Dortmund star would likely cost Chelsea around €35m, with Hummels, now 27 years of age, arguably standing at a career crossroads. His current contract only runs until 2017 and if he has decided take the challenge to test himself in another league now would be the time to make the move.
But a major problem for Chelsea in tempting any big stars to west London next season will be a lack of Champions League football.
Hummels committed himself to Dortmund after they only managed a Europa League place at the end of last season, but with Die Schwarzgelben back in Europe’s elite competition for next season it might become very hard to tempt him to take what is effectively a backwards step.