Chelsea aim to hijack David Alaba's move to Real Madrid

Jacob Steinberg
·3-min read
<span>Photograph: Lars Baron/EPA</span>
Photograph: Lars Baron/EPA

Chelsea will try to hijack Real Madrid’s move for David Alaba, who is set to leave Bayern Munich on a free, as Thomas Tuchel makes plans to reinforce his defence this summer.

Although Madrid remain strong favourites to sign Alaba after offering the defender a long-term deal last month, Chelsea are prepared to enter the race for 28-year-old. Tuchel, who replaced Frank Lampard at Stamford Bridge last week, is shaping his transfer plans and admires the Bayern centre-back.

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Alaba, who has failed to agree a contract extension with Bayern after 12 years with the German champions, is one of the best defenders in the world. The Austrian’s desire for a new challenge has alerted several of Europe’s top clubs and Madrid, who have doubts over Sergio Ramos’s future, have been active in their pursuit of him. There has also been interest from Liverpool and Manchester United.

Although Chelsea’s squad will contain five centre-backs if Fikayo Tomori returns from his loan with Milan in the summer, Tuchel feels that the area needs strengthening. Chelsea have also been linked with RB Leipzig’s Dayot Upamecano and Bayern’s Niklas Süle, whose contract expires in 2022.

Tuchel has said he was fully aware of Mason Mount’s quality before starting the job. Although Mount dropped to the bench for Tuchel’s opening draw with Wolves, he has not taken long to show why he was so important under Lampard. The England international sparkled as an attacking midfielder in Chelsea’s win over Burnley last Sunday and was at his versatile best in the victory over Tottenham on Thursday, shining as a false 9.

Fears that Mount would be sidelined following Lampard’s sacking have disappeared. Tuchel shared a long embrace with the Chelsea midfielder after the Spurs game and the German, who warned that there were no mandatory picks in his team, denied that he needed to see the 22-year-old at close hand to appreciate his talent.

Thomas Tuchel embraces Mason Mount after Chelsea&#x002019;s win at Tottenham on Thursday.
Thomas Tuchel embraces Mason Mount after Chelsea’s win at Tottenham on Thursday. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

“It was very clear before because we watched the team and he was a regular starter with Frank,” Tuchel said. “We had no doubt he had potential and was the team player that he is. We did not choose him for the first game because we opted for a slightly different profile for the two No 10 positions. He showed what a big influence he can have from the bench.

“From here, there are no guarantees for anybody, not even for Mason. It is easy with him because he leaves his heart out there on the pitch, but everybody else does the same thing. It is a team effort and Mason is the first to agree.

“Is there room to improve? Yes. Is there a lot of room to improve? Yes, even for him. There are no gifts so he has to earn his place in every training session and every match. But he knows about it. He is a competitor.”

Tuchel sounded like Lampard when he spoke about Mount. “I don’t want to put a limit to his development,” he said. “He has a lot of potential. Besides being a great footballer, he is a super-nice guy. He is eager to learn, hungry to win, open-minded and he can perform for any manager.”

Chelsea, six points below Liverpool in fourth place, are likely to be without Thiago Silva at Sheffield United on Sunday. The centre-back suffered a thigh injury in the first half against Spurs.