This is part one of a short series where I analyse potential transfer targets for the Summer of 2020, starting with the Benfica and Portuguese central defender, Rúben Dias.
Although Chelsea currently posses many central defenders, I don’t believe these defenders have enough quality to completely fix what is a clear liability within our overall game as a team. Assuming all of our centre backs are at full fitness, I think everyone can agree our strongest centre back partnership is Antonio Rüdiger and Andreas Christensen, with Zouma and Tomori as back ups. If you were a rival fan, you’d probably think, on paper, our centre back options are very good, but after watching these defenders at Chelsea it’s clear that isn’t fully the case. Antonio Rüdiger tends to lose concentration/make silly decisions within key moments of games, Christensen lacks that inner fire power that’s needed to be a successful centre back (please note, I’m a big fan of Christensen, and if he does sort out his mentality, he has the potential to be a successful, long term option at Stamford Bridge). Kurt Zouma is a proven Premier League defender with a great mentality, although his lack of quality on the ball lets him down from being a first choice option in this Frank Lampard system once Rüdiger is back to full fitness, and Fikayo Tomori simply lacks Premier League experience.
With all of that in mind, I’ve been searching for who could tick most of these boxes and therefore be a successful, long term acquisition for The Blues, and that player is Rúben Dias. At the young age of 22, Dias is no stranger to success. At club level, Dias won the ‘Primeira Liga’ last season, as well as winning the ‘Nations League’ with Portugal this Summer.
Although Dias is only 22, don’t let his age fool you when it comes to experience, because Dias has plenty of it. Excluding his games at Benfica B, Dias as a total of 56 appearances over two seasons in the ‘Primeira Liga’ alone, appearing 24 times in the 2017-2018 season and 32 times last season. In addition to this, Dias has 11 caps for his nation, Portugal, which is quite impressive considering the large amount of centre back options Portugal posses.
Dias has a lot of experience at a young age, which can be very important, but how would he fit in to this Chelsea team and who would he play alongside?
From watching Dias, it’s clear he’s more of an aggressive type centre back who makes tackles that stop a direct attacking threat, Dias is not a sweeper. The fact that Dias isn’t a sweeper means if he played alongside Zouma or Rüdiger (players who are too similar as him in terms of style of play) the defence would be too aggressive which would make it easy for top attacks to break through. For example, a side like Manchester City would tear a Dias/Rüdiger defence apart, like they tore a Luiz/Rüdiger partnership apart at the Etihad last season. If we were to sign Ruben Dias, Christensen playing alongside him would be a must. Christensen’s quality to sweep up through balls is superb, which would allow Dias to do what he does best, make one on one tackles and be aggressive towards the opposition attackers.
One thing that could cost us this is season is the loss of David Luiz’s passing range. At times where we were struggling last season, we could rely on Luiz’s passing range to make a quick switch of play or through ball to our striker, but with Luiz’s departure to Arsenal, that is not now possible. Our defence might struggle on the ball this season, but if we were to sign Dias in the Summer of 2020, this would no longer be a problem. Dias’ ability on the ball is very similar to Luiz’s, he often successfully plays long balls to the Benfica attackers and is a very efficient short passer, which would suit Lampard’s style of play perfectly.
In conclusion, Ruben Dias would be a brilliant signing that wouldn’t be sold for more than €50M, which is a very good deal in today’s market. Dias is an aggressive defender with great passing ability and concentration. Dias would be a massive upgrade on most of (if not all) our centre backs.