Van Dijk heir: 3 players who could replace Chelsea's out-of-contract stars

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Chelsea are set for a massive summer of change, with the ownership of the club still undecided and the simple question of ‘can players be signed’ still up in the air.

And one issue that needs addressing urgently is that of Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger, with the two Chelsea centre-backs set to depart west London at the end of this season upon the expiration of their contracts.

With Chelsea’s ability to sign players hinging on how soon new owners can take over the club, the Blues could be forced to look in-house to replace two important first-team defenders. And with that in mind, who could replace the likes of Christensen and Rudiger from the Cobham academy?

Ethan Ampadu

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21-years-old and already a 33-cap international with Wales, it’s pretty incredible just how experienced Ethan Ampadu already is at such a young age. And for Chelsea, the versatile defender could play a key role for the Blues next season.

Currently a regular with Serie A side Venezia FC, the former Exeter City star has the potential to be one of the best defenders in the Premier League, and given the success of Trevoh Chalobah under Thomas Tuchel, the German could be tempted to give Ampadu a chance.

Silky on the ball and not afraid to venture forward, Ampadu is a modern ball-playing defender who can also operate in the midfield, as he has normally done for Wales in recent months. And after returning from Venice, the Chelsea youngster could earn a crack at first-team football at the Bridge.

Levi Colwill

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Every season there seems to be a Chelsea loan player who takes the country by storm, and whilst Conor Gallagher is stealing headlines for Crystal Palace, 19-year-old Levi Colwill is doing the exact same thing with Huddersfield Town.

Whilst injuries have kept Colwill off the pitch more than he would have liked, the centre-back has been a revelation for the Terriers this season, who could well return to the Premier League next season if they can find some form ahead of the Championship play-offs.

And for Colwill, the teenage defender could be used by Chelsea next season if the Blues are unable to sign a replacement for Christensen or Rudiger, with the centre-back no doubt confident in his own abilities to play in the Premier League.

Xavier Mbuyamba

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6’5, Dutch, and briefly at Barcelona’s famed La Masia academy, it’s no wonder why Xavier Mbuyamba has drawn comparisons to Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk, and the 20-year-old could earn his big break next season for Chelsea.

Signed in 2020, injuries have plagued the defender’s progress since moving to west London, though Mbuyamba has made up for lost time this campaign, with the youngster featuring heavily for Chelsea at U-23 level and even making the bench in the League Cup.

Indeed, Mbuyamba might not be ready yet for first-team football, but given his obvious potential, reputation and physical stature, Tuchel could sense an opportunity to play the towering defender next season, a risk the former Borussia Dortmund manager would not be afraid to make.

Football journalist and 2018 Sport Journalism graduate from the University of Brighton.