Marc Guehi, Aymeric Laporte & six centre-backs Chelsea could target in the transfer window after Wesley Fofana's ACL injury nightmare

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The Frenchman is out for the best part of a year, and the Blues are considering entering the market to replace him - but who could they target?

Chelsea have suffered a devastating injury blow before their season has even begun; Wesley Fofana is set to be sidelined for the best part of a year after rupturing his ACL, and he faces a long and arduous rehabilitation period after undergoing reconstructive surgery.

The untimely loss of the Frenchman leaves head coach Mauricio Pochettino and the west Londoners' hierarchy with a decision to make: stick with what they've got, or turn to the transfer window to find cover at centre-back.

It has been reported that the Blues are willing to enter the market if the right opportunity presents itself, but who are the defenders they could target? GOAL runs through six potential options...

  1. Marc Guehi (Crystal Palace)

    Marc Guehi (Crystal Palace)

    It was inevitable that Marc Guehi would be among the first names Chelsea were linked with after the news of Fofana's injury broke. The 23-year-old is a graduate of the Blues' academy and has made steady progress since leaving Stamford Bridge for Crystal Palace two years ago, becoming a fine Premier League centre-back and a full England international.

    Although there was no buy-back clause inserted in the deal with Palace, it is thought that Chelsea have first refusal on Guehi should an offer arrive from elsewhere. However, the Eagles' £50 million ($64m) price tag could well be prohibitive, and Guehi is thought to want to be a guaranteed starter if he does leave Selhurst Park.

  2. Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City)
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    Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City)

    Having fallen down the pecking order under Pep Guardiola, Aymeric Laporte is finally expected to leave Manchester City this summer. Like Guehi, Laporte is a rare left-sided centre-back and would bring a wealth of Premier League experience despite his bit-part role in the 2022-23 treble win at the Etihad.

    City have shown a willingness to do business with their Premier League rivals in recent times, and recent negotiations over Mateo Kovacic mean relations between the two clubs should be in a good place. However, the Spain international's £120,000-per-week wages could prove to be a stumbling block given Chelsea's newly-formed wage structure.

  3. Piero Hincapie (Bayer Leverkusen)
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    Piero Hincapie (Bayer Leverkusen)

    Another left-sided defender, Bayer Leverkusen's Piero Hincapie would tick a lot of boxes for Chelsea, although he could well be seen as a more long-term option. The 21-year-old has emerged as one of the finest young centre-backs around, adept both defensively - ranking in the top 10 percent in Europe for successful tackles - and at progressing the play up the pitch.

    The Ecuador international has also featured regularly on the left side of a back three under Xabi Alonso - the shape many believe gets the best out of the Blues' current crop of players. His £34m ($44m) price tag wouldn't be a problem for co-owners Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali, and he fits within the age profile of the players Chelsea have targeted of late.

  4. Luiz Felipe (Real Betis)
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    Luiz Felipe (Real Betis)

    Real Betis centre-half Luiz Felipe is among the latest names to be touted as potential cover for Fofana, and reading between the lines he is perhaps best suited to being a short-term option. Although he is a solid defender, Felipe isn't necessarily a ball-playing centre-back, while his disciplinary and injury records leave a lot to be desired; the 26-year-old was sent off three times last season, and he has missed almost 10 games per year as a result of fitness issues since 2018.

    However, the Italy international's £17 million ($22m) valuation makes him an attractive proposition given Chelsea's existing options in central defence, though they may face competition from West Ham.

  5. Edmond Tapsoba (Bayer Leverkusen)

    Edmond Tapsoba (Bayer Leverkusen)

    Hincapie's Leverkusen team-mate Edmond Tapsoba is another player who has been linked with Chelsea in the past - ironically during their drawn-out pursuit of Fofana a year go when he was a Leicester player. The Burkina Faso international has a knack of reading the game and cutting out passing lanes early, and he is able to lean on fine ball-playing ability in possession. At 24, he is another player who fits within the Blues' recent preferred age profile.

    However, his £43 million ($56m) valuation is probably a little steep, especially if Chelsea are looking for season-long cover for Fofana's absence. The west Londoners may have to weigh up how far towards the future they want to look with Thiago Silva coming to the end of his career.

  6. Benjamin Pavard (Bayern Munich)
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    Benjamin Pavard (Bayern Munich)

    Given the predicament Fofana's injury has created, Chelsea will have been alerted to Benjamin Pavard's potential availability at Bayern Munich. The versatile Frenchman is a classy operator who is capable at both right-back and centre-back, and given his reputation and experience at the highest level, he would be seen as an upgrade on a number of the Blues' current options.

    What's more, his reported £26 million ($33m) asking price would make him a potential bargain, with his contract at the Allianz Arena due to expire in 12 months' time.