Chelsea have reportedly drawn up a four-man centre-back shortlist as Thomas Tuchel looks beyond priority signing Erling Haaland.
Tuchel's side are expected to be in the race to sign Haaland in the summer transfer window, with the Borussia Dortmund striker coveted by Europe's top clubs.
But Chelsea are also set to target a defensive signing amid uncertainty over the futures of their current rearguard stars including Thiago Silva, Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen and Cesar Azpilicueta.
The Premier League side have been excellent in defence since Tuchel took charge, having kept 12 clean sheets in 14 games under the new manager – including shutouts in their last matches games in a row.
But they will freshen up their backline as Tuchel looks to stamp his mark on the squad this summer.
That's according to a report from Goal, which says Chelsea are tracking four defenders across Europe who can help add backbone to an expected title charge next season.
They will look to jump the queue to land David Alaba on a free transfer – despite claims the 28-year-old Bayern Munich defender is determined to join either Real Madrid or Barcelona.
Alaba's team-mate Niklas Sule, 25, is also said to be a target, with the Germany international able to play right-back as well as centre-half – making him a potential successor to 31-year-old Azpilicueta.
RB Leipzig's 21-year-old centre-back Ibrahim Konate is another on the shortlist, which would have included his team-mate Dayot Upamecano as well before he agreed a deal with Bayern.
And the fourth defender in Chelsea's sights is said to be Jose Gimenez – although Atletico Madrid are expected to insist in the 26-year-old's £103 million release clause being met in full.
As for Chelsea's current defenders, Rudiger and Christensen have become regular starters once more since Tuchel took charge, having been sidelined under previous boss Frank Lampard.
But both centre-backs, as well as Azpilicueta, will enter the final 12 months of their contracts this summer, with talks on new deals set to take place once the season is finished.
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Silva is only contracted until July – but Stamford Bridge chiefs have the option to offer him a further year.
Fikayo Tomori could make his loan move to AC Milan permanent if the San Siro side cough up his £26million transfer fee.
And Marc Guehi could also leave, as he will enter the final year of his contract once his loan at Swansea City is up.
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