Digne and Tagliafico among best Chelsea options to replace Chilwell

A loan deal for out-of-favour Lucas Digne, a cut-price swoop for Ajax’s Nicolas Tagliafico, or recalling teenage talent Ian Maatsen… Chelsea’s January options to replace Ben Chilwell after he was ruled out for the season

  • Chelsea’s Ben Chilwell is out for the season after damaging his ACL last month
  • The Blues confirmed Chilwell is set to undergo surgery on his knee injury
  • Marcos Alonso is now the only natural left-back available for Thomas Tuchel
  • Everton’s Lucas Digne and Ajax’s Nicolas Tagliafico are possible January options
  • Tuchel could also turn to the likes of Saul Niguez and Reece James to fill the gap

Chelsea are short of options at left wing-back following the news that Ben Chilwell is set to miss the rest of the season with a serious knee injury.

Chilwell, 25, damaged his anterior cruciate ligament during the Blues’ 4-0 win over Juventus last month and, after initially clutching onto the possibility of avoiding it, the club has since confirmed he requires surgery to overcome the problem.

Marcos Alonso is now the only natural left wing-back available for manager Thomas Tuchel, who needs a Plan B for the second half of the season.

Sportsmail takes a closer look at potential signings the Blues could make in January, and possible options already on the books at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea are short at left wing-back with Ben Chilwell set to miss the rest of the season

Blues head coach Thomas Tuchel needs to find a solution in the January transfer window

Lucas Digne

Chelsea are already weighing up a January move for Digne, who appears to be on his way out of Everton after a dispute with manager Rafa Benitez.

The France defender has not featured since their 4-1 defeat away at Liverpool on December 1 as a result of that fall-out, and the writing is seemingly on the wall for him at Goodison Park ahead of the winter window.

Tuchel may look to bring Digne to Stamford Bridge on a short-term loan until the end of the season, with ex-Toffee Ross Barkley potentially heading in the opposite direction.


The former Barcelona star would add Premier League experience and quality going forward, although it remains to be seen if Everton will let one of their best players depart on a temporary deal.

Everton defender Lucas Digne is already an option for Chelsea ahead of the winter window

Nicolas Tagliafico

The Argentine left-back is another option Chelsea are exploring in the wake of Chilwell’s blow, and Ajax are prepared to offload him next month.

Tagliafico has made 146 appearances since joining the Dutch club in January 2018 and has also been capped 36 times by Argentina.

At 29, and with just 18 months to run on his current contract, he will likely be available on the cheap next month as a cut-price replacement for Chilwell.

A number of Premier League clubs have been linked with him previously, and he would likely be a solid alternative to Alonso if he arrives in west London. 

Ajax left-back Nicolas Tagliafico is also on Chelsea’s radar as potential cover for Chilwell

Sergino Dest

According to the Daily Express, Chelsea also have an interest in Barcelona youngster Dest, who moved to the Nou Camp from Ajax last year.

The USA international, 21, is capable of operating on both flanks, versatility which is said to appeal to Blues officials.

Dest remains under contract at Barca until 2025, yet the Spanish club need to raise funds amid their financial crisis, and given Dani Alves is set to return next month, they may be tempted to cash in on their less-experienced defender in January.

Bayern Munich are also circling, however, meaning Chelsea could well face competition for his signature.

Barcelona youngster Sergino Dest’s versatility reportedly appeals to Blues officials

Emerson Palmieri/Ian Maatsen

Instead of searching elsewhere, Chelsea could recall either Emerson or Maatsen from their loan spells at Lyon and Coventry respectively.

Emerson, 27, has already made 71 appearances for the Blues, but with Chilwell and Alonso ahead of him in the pecking order, he was sent out on loan to France this term.

The Italian has made 19 appearances for the Ligue 1 giants so far this term, and they are unlikely to want to lose him for the second half of the campaign. 

Maatsen, 19, has spent the last two seasons on loan with Charlton and Coventry, producing encouraging form for both.

He made his one and only senior Chelsea appearance during the 2019-20 campaign, and would face a big step if here were to return to Stamford Bridge next month.

Chelsea could also recall Ian Maatsen or Emerson Palmieri from loans at Coventry and Lyon

Saul Niguez/Reece James

Another solution for Tuchel could be turning to players who currently reside in his squad as makeshift cover, such as summer recruit Saul or right wing-back James.

Saul has some experience as a wing-back after being shifted into the position by Diego Simeone at Atletico Madrid last season, albeit rather unsuccessfully.

As for James, he has proven himself as one of the best right wing-backs in European football over the past two seasons, and he would likely be capable of deputising for Alonso on the opposite flank when required.

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