Chelsea eye Lewis Dunk to bolster back line

Chelsea’s defensive options came under further scrutiny following the FA Cup final defeat to Arsenal.

Cesar Azpilicueta and Antonio Rudiger were particularly poor against the Gunners, both contributing mistakes which led to goals. Frank Lampard is sure to be chasing a new centre-back, with Lewis Dunk linked this week.

The England international has played 110 of 114 Premier League matches since Brighton’s promotion for the 2017/18 season.

Arsenal should be considering taking a calculated “gamble” on Brighton defender Lewis Dunk if he can be acquired for around £40 million, says Ray Parlour. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY GETTY IMAGES VIA GOAL.

Dunk’s leadership skills have caught the eye, helping Brighton steer clear of relegation as they aim to establish themselves in the top flight. Chelsea conceded the same number of goals as Brighton in the league (54), despite finishing fourth compared to the Seagulls bottom-half finish.

Statistics

A commanding central defender has been missing all season at Chelsea. Dunk averages 3.6 clearances per game, a higher rate than all of Chelsea’s centre-backs besides Kurt Zouma. Dunk also averages more blocks per-game, fouls won per-game and is second to Zouma in interceptions per game.

Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen are left trailing Dunk in many key defensive metrics.

Rudiger.
Antonio Rudiger was embarrassed by Hector Bellerin in the buildup to Aubameyang’s winner. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY REUTERS.

Dunk’s passing statistics also compare well to the Chelsea central defenders, alleviating fears that he is a pure defender. He averages 0.4 key passes per game, more than Zouma, Rudiger and Christensen.

At 87%, his pass completion is very adequate, while he also attempts fewer long ball per-game (4.6) than Rudiger (5.7) and Zouma (5). These passing stats may come as a surprise to those who see Dunk as a basic, rugged defender.

With Lampard insistent on his defenders starting attacks from the back, Dunk appears capable of doing this without compromising his key responsibility.

Leadership

Dunk’s captaincy and leadership will also be of interest to Frank Lampard who appears to be interested in big personalities as well as quality footballers.

Dunk
HUDDERSFIELD, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 01: Shane Duffy of Brighton and Hove Albion celebrates with teammate Lewis Dunk after scoring his team’s first goal against Huddersfield Town. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY GARETH COPLEY/GETTY IMAGES.

Interest in Declan Rice indicates Lampard’s desire to recruit on mentality, with Rice’s inspirational performances a key factor in West Ham’s survival.

Chelsea have also been linked with Jose Gimenez of Atletico Madrid. Diego Simeone is a fan of inspirational, gritty defenders and a player like this is clearly on Lampard’s radar. He feels it’s essential if they’re to close the gap on Liverpool and Manchester City.

There is no doubt that Dunk fits this bill in terms of character and personality. The 28-year-old Englishman puts his body on the line in his defensive role.

Dunk
Chelsea reportedly could sign Brighton & Hove Albion defender Lewis Dunk for £50 million in the January transfer window. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY GLYN KIRK/GETTY IMAGES.

He always leads his side with organisational skills from the back. Chelsea’s fragility at the back has been clear. With no Virgil van Dijk type figure to steady the ship, they have leaked goals with relative ease. While Dunk is surely not of the Dutchman’s level, this ilk of character undeniably toughened Liverpool and Lampard will hope his defensive recruit can have a similar impact.

Whether it is Dunk, Gimenez or Rice that is signed, Lampard is certainly in the market for a centre-back. The Brighton man is largely underrated in the Premier League and could be an alternative to Chelsea’s major defensive targets. Dunk is also a Chelsea fan, so would surely be interested in a move to London.

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