With club finances across Europe taking a significant dent following the outbreak of coronavirus, a player of Nicolás Tagliafico’s quality potentially being available for just £20m naturally attracts plenty of attention.
The Ajax left-back was into his third season at the club when the Eredivisie season was cancelled, but even after just 24 league outings he once again shown his quality.
In total he’s accrued 99 appearances for the club, boasting impressive attacking qualities throughout his Dutch adventure to complement his obvious defensive ability. He’s netted 12 goals during that time along with 15 assists, and Europe has been put on red alert.
Everyone’s interest has been piqued further by recent developments, as it is claimed that Tagliafico has an agreement with Ajax to allow him to leave should a suitable (£20m) offer come in this summer.
Furthermore, the player is supposedly keen on a move elsewhere, so assessing where he could end up seems like the right port of call. Let’s take a look, shall we?
Thrown into the mix recently following some of the latest reports are the Gunners, whose boss Mikel Arteta has eyed the Argentine as a target for the summer as he looks to mould his squad ahead of the new season.
As touched upon, this move is highly doubtful given the well-documented economic issues at Arsenal as well as the more glaring deficiencies in the squad. Boasting two left-backs (and one makeshift one) already, it would seemingly be a case of one in, one out if this were to come off. And even still, it’s a big expense to the club.
For a player of Tagliafico’s quality, he’ll want regular football, but given that Arsenal already forked out £25m on Kieran Tierney last summer, a player who Arteta has waxed lyrical about, there is precious little logic in signing another left-back when other areas of the pitch require more urgent surgery.
He’d no doubt suit the style of play at the Emirates, but this one looks dead in the water already.
As seen recently, there is a firesale of sorts taking place at Camp Nou this summer, with the club open to selling all but six of the first-team squad in the coming transfer window.
These include the club’s two left-backs, Jordi Alba and Junior Firpo. The former has been with the club since 2012 and remains one of the continent’s finest left-backs, but the financial situation at Barcelona has left them in desperate need of additional funding.
Even for Firpo there is a chance he could depart the club, despite only joining Barcelona last summer for deal that could be worth €30m. Yet, in order for the Blaugrana to be making moves in the transfer market then these two would need to be sold and finding buyers in the current climate could prove troublesome.
The most likely outcome is that their current two left-backs will stay, meaning there is no room for a £20m-rated third defender in that position.
For an attack-minded left-back, moving to Atlético Madrid might not suit Tagliafico too much. Diego Simeone’s style is well-known for erring on the side of caution, making themselves tougher to beat at the sacrifice of attacking intent.
Tagliafico is a player who loves to overlap and have an impact in the final third, a trait that might be out of place in Simeone’s side. Besides, the club signed Renan Lodi last summer, and despite a rocky start, has began to establish himself in the first team and make a positive impact.
This was no more evident than in the club’s final fixture before football was halted where he performed admirably against Liverpool at Anfield, having already earned the man of the match award in the first leg of their Champions League clash.
One thing to note is that Lodi is the only recongised left-back in the squad, though, and while Mario Hermoso can fill in at the role, this season we’ve even seen Saul Ñiguez slot into that position on occasion, so reinforcements could be needed.
Another name to crop up in regards to Tagliafico’s future is the French giants, who are seemingly failing with their efforts to sign Porto’s Alex Telles. Paris Saint-Germain are unwilling to match the Portuguese club’s valuation of the defender, so with a more financially viable option emerging their attentions have turned elsewhere.
Layvin Kurzawa is set to depart the Parc des Princes at the end of the season when his contract expires, leaving Juan Bernat as the only recognised left-back at the club. Thomas Tuchel doesn’t appear to have been overly convinced with either this season, regularly changing between the two or on occasion fielding Bernat in a more advanced role.
His indecisiveness and pursuit of Telles signals that it’s an area the club are looking to bolster, making Tagliafico’s signature an intriguing one. As seen with Telles, he is a very attack-minded full-back in the same ilk as the Argentine – a style of defender Tuchel likes to utilise in his team.
How convinced of playing in Ligue 1 Tagliafico will be is not known, but his desire to play for a bigger club could be answered if he joins the dominant Parisian outfit, who regularly challenge (win) domestic trophies and compete in the Champions League every season.
While there is some scope for Tagliafico to move to any of the clubs above, no matter how faint those chances may be, no club stands out more prominently in this chase than Chelsea.
Rumours linking current left-backs Emerson Palmieri and Marcos Alonso with a move away from Stamford Bridge have been heightened this season, with Frank Lampard preferring to field Cesar Azpilicueta in that position despite it not being his natural role.
The performances of Alonso and Palmieri have not matched Lampard’s standards, which is why Ben Chilwell has long been linked with a move to west London.
That deal will need to be put on hold for the time being, though, since the fee Leicester will command is far too substantial for Chelsea to part with in their current financial situation.
Therefore, a £20m move for another one of Europe’s most exciting left-backs is exceedingly more appealing. Shipping out even one of their left-backs will free up funds and a spot in the squad, not to mention that Tagliafico’s playing style fits the brand of football Lampard wants to instil at the club.
It’s also been mooted that the 27-year-old has a preference for moving to the Premier League when he leaves Ajax, so plenty of boxes are being ticked in Chelsea’s favour.
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