Transfer Talk: City could Pep up their defence with in-form Chilwell
Chelsea fans may shudder when they read this but Ben Chilwell has emerged as a summer target for Manchester City.
With Joao Cancelo on loan at Bayern Munich and seemingly destined for an exit amid reports Barcelona are also interested, Pep Guardiola may need defensive reinforcements at the end of the season.
And Chilwell, 26, is reportedly high on the Etihad outfit's wanted list following his return from injury.
Chelsea have won their last three games in all competitions and it is no surprise the England left-back has started each one.
Graham Potter clearly has faith in him and Chilwell rewarded his boss by netting the opener in last Saturday's 3-1 win against his former club Leicester.
It remains to be seen whether the Blues will part with the defender but City have the financial muscle to wrestle him away should they wish.
Ahead of Chelsea's home clash with Everton this evening, we examine why Guardiola may want to Pep up his backline with the man his team-mates call Chilly.
Back to his best
Chelsea were dealt a blow when Chilwell injured his hamstring in November and Potter has benefitted from having him available to fly up and down the left flank.
He provided an assist for Wesley Fofana in the 1-0 win over Leeds and cracked home a sweet finish against the Foxes last time out.
Chilwell notched eight goal contributions in 2020-2021 and four last season, despite only playing 541 minutes of Premier League football in that campaign.
Silencing the noise
Following his £50million switch to Stamford Bridge in August 2020, Chilwell is guaranteed a hostile reception whenever he returns to the King Power — and last Saturday was no exception.
He was booed mercilessly but the Foxes faithful were silenced when he opened the scoring in the 11th minute before celebrating in front of the fans who once cheered him.
Chilwell said: "I think it was one of the most enjoyable goals in my career. There's no bad blood, I really enjoy coming back and seeing all the old faces.
"But of course, I'm going to give anything to win the game for Chelsea and thankfully I contributed a goal."
City have not been as formidable as in previous seasons and their issues at left-back have been a factor.
After selling Oleksandr Zinchenko to Arsenal last summer and allowing Cancelo to join Bayern in January, Nathan Ake has been filling in.
Ake, 28, is a reliable defender but does not offer what his predecessors did going forward.
In the Premier League, the Dutchman has completed 12.74 passes per 90 minutes in the final third this term, while Cancelo completes 19.23 on average.
The Portuguese is more ambitious and creative and City have missed his attacking thrust.
Speaking after Bayern's 5-3 win over Augsburg, in which Cancelo scored, team-mate Sadio Mane was full of praise for the on-loan ace.
He said: "What a player! We saw again that Joao is one of the best in the world. We're very happy he's playing for us.
"I'd like to see him with us next season. We need that kind of player."
Bayern may not be willing to splash the cash to keep Cancelo at the Allianz Arena but Chilwell would provide a consistent attacking outlet on the left should City end up losing him.
Despite what the papers say about City's apparent need for summer recruits, it should be noted that Guardiola has been full of praise for Ake.
He said: "Nobody talks about Nathan and right now he's playing beyond our expectations as a left-back. As a defender, how good he defends, all the actions with the ball are clever.
"These types of players help to make the others bright. I always pay attention to these things."
Bring on the Toffees
Regardless of transfer rumours, Chilwell's focus will be on tonight's visit from Sean Dyche's struggling side.
The Toffees are happy to concede possession and sit deep, meaning Chelsea will need to use the width provided by Chilwell and, if he is fit to start, Reece James on the opposite flank.
Against Leicester, no player completed more crosses (three) or created more chances (three) than Chiwell.
If he can replicate that form later, Potter's side will be in with a great chance of picking up a fourth consecutive win — and Chilly may add a few quid to his transfer value in the process.