English Premier League (EPL) club Chelsea are eyeing Lazio center-back Stefan de Vrij as a realistic transfer target this summer. The Blues have reportedly decided to abandon their pursuit of Kalidou Koulibaly of Napoli, because of his huge valuation by the Serie A club.
Napoli have demanded a transfer fee of $59 million for Koulibaly, which seems to be too expensive for Chelsea coach Antonio Conte. De Vrij on the other hand is available for $19.67 million and is considered a much better proposition by the Stamford Bridge hierarchy, as reported by Sunday People, via Daily Mirror.
Conte knows that Chelsea’s defense is the most fragile area of the team and the Italian wishes to address that. The Blues were exposed defensively last season, which contributed to their disastrous title defense.
However, Conte must note that the Dutchman was unavailable for the majority of 2015/16 season, due to a knee injury. He managed to make just two appearances and was heavily missed by Lazio as he is an important player for the side.
The 23-year-old is expected to make a strong impact this season after recuperating from his injury. De Vrij had a brilliant debut season for Lazio and helped the club achieve a UEFA Champions League birth. He is an exceptional defender and is known for his tactical awareness and focus on the game.
His price of $19.67 million should be mouthwatering for Chelsea given the talent De Vrij possesses. However, given that the player has been out of action for over a year, the deal could prove to be a gamble. Also, given his young age, consistency could be an issue for the Dutchman.
Nothing official has been mentioned by either of the clubs or the player himself and we have to wait to see whether Chelsea decides to submit a transfer bid or not.
For those unaware of De Vrij’s talents, here is a video of him.
Video courtesy: YouTube.com/Amante Della Bola
Photo courtesy: Kiekyp/Wikipedia.org