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Thomas Tuchel names Matthijs de Ligt his top defensive target

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has reportedly identified Juventus centre-back as the perfect long-term replacement for Antonio Rudiger.

Rudiger was a defensive mainstay at Stamford Bridge over the past five years before he decided against extending his stay in London.

The 29-year-old German will join Real Madrid on a multi-year deal when his contract at Chelsea runs out later this month.

Unfortunately for Tuchel, Andreas Christensen is likely to follow in Rudiger’s footsteps and sever ties with the club.

Like his long-term defensive partner, the Danish star’s future lies in La Liga, as he is on the verge of penning a contract at Barcelona.

Christensen’s deal is up in the summer, meaning Chelsea won’t make any profit from his departure.

However, the Pensioners will have to invest big to overhaul their backline, with de Ligt emerging as Tuchel’s preferred choice.

According to talkSPORT, Chelsea have joined fellow Premier League rivals Manchester United in the race to land the former Ajax starlet.

With the summer transfer window opening on Friday, the Blues are working around the clock to sign Rudiger’s successor as soon as possible.

De Ligt fits the profile for the type of player Tuchel is looking to recruit.

His potential arrival at Stamford Bridge could be one of the most high-profile Premier League transfers this summer.

Despite his relatively young age, the 22-year-old is already an established European centre-back.

He made a name for himself at Ajax, earning a reputation as one of the hottest defensive prospects during his impressive three-year stint in Amsterdam.

After helping newly-appointed Man United boss Erik ten Hag win the Eredivisie and reach the Champions League semi-finals in 2017/18, he moved to Juventus.

Though he was expected to develop into a key player at the Allianz Stadium upon his €75million arrival, the move has not panned out as planned.

De Ligt’s career at Juventus has been a bit underwhelming so far.

Now that Giorgio Chiellini announced his departure, the Dutchman is seen as his long-term heir in Turin.

But the player looks to have other ideas on his mind.

When asked about his future at Juventus, de Ligt delivered a cryptic answer.

“There are talks ongoing between me and Juventus. Once the right moment arrives, I will decide to extend or to look further,” he said, as relayed by Fabrizio Romano.

With Leonardo Bonucci, 35, not getting younger and Daniele Rugani failing to live up to the billing, the Bianconeri are desperate to keep hold of de Ligt.

However, after the player threw his future in Serie A into a corridor of uncertainty, Juventus could decide to sell him.

The Dutchman has only two years remaining on his current contract in Turin.

So this summer could be Juve’s last opportunity to recoup the €75m they splashed out to acquire his signature in 2019.

Chelsea are ready to pounce, and they could have the upper hand over Man United despite Ten Hag’s presence.

Unlike the Red Devils, the Blues can offer de Ligt regular first-team action regardless of his performances.

With Christiansen and Rudiger out of the picture, Trevoh Chalobah and Thiago Silva are Tuchel’s only dependable options at the back.

Since the German manager prefers a three-man backline, he is already one man short.

In the meantime, Ten Hag has Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof and Raphael Varane at his disposal.

Fierce competition for places at Old Trafford could deter de Ligt from reuniting with his former boss.

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