Report: Chelsea now interested in signing Europa League winner who played 44 times last season

Chelsea are reportedly leading the race to sign Villarreal defender, Alfonso Pedraza, according to Calcio Napoli 24.

Pedraza enjoyed a strong season with the Spanish side, which was topped off by beating Manchester United in the Europa League final.

In 44 appearances, he scored two goals and provided four assists.

Photo by Michael Sohn – Pool/Getty Images

The 25-year-old started his youth career with Villarreal and only came back to his original club after several spells out on loan.

One of those included a brief stint with Leeds United in 2017, where he almost helped them gain promotion from the Championship.

Now back in La Liga, Pedraza is gaining attention from across Europe.

Seemingly Chelsea have been drawn to his performances and are monitoring his movements closely, with the Blues now in ‘pole position’ to land him.

Thomas Tuchel is looking to reshape his squad in the summer transfer window.

Photo by Alexander Hassenstein – UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images

A new centre-forward and centre-back remain high priority, but other areas might also need to be revamped.

Uncertainties remain about Marcos Alonso and Emerson Palmieri’s futures, both players typically stationed at left-back.

Emerson hardly got a look in all campaign under Tuchel or Frank Lampard, whilst Alonso only began to remerge following the latter’s removal in January.

Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Selling one or even both could leave Ben Chilwell without much opposition down the left flank, hence the apparent interest in Pedraza, who can play at full-back or on the wing.

He is contracted with Villarreal until 2025, so expect the Yellow Submarine to request a decent fee for their defender’s services.

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I must admit, the only time I’ve ever seen Pedraza play was in the Europa League final.

His display certainly didn’t knock my socks off.

There were occasions when he struggled against United’s forwards and was hooked off before the final whistle.

But he did show good energy and willingness to attack, something that could work in Tuchel’s team.

Plus, if Alonso and or Emerson leave, then anther left-back will be needed.

Who says Chelsea always have to spend huge money on a household name, when you could get a solid player for a lower fee?

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Nathaniel is a football journalist who graduated from the University of Derby. He has worked at Burton Albion as part of their media team for two years. Nathaniel produces regular articles for the club’s official website and match-day programme. He covered the 2018 U20 Women’s World Cup in Brittany and has reported from grounds ranging from non-league up to the Premier League.