Manchester United set sights on 23-year-old centre-back on Chelsea radar

Chelsea face Manchester United threat as they eye Jean-Clair Todibo to replace Thiago Silva

Chelsea FC’s hopes of signing defender Jean-Clair Todibo face new danger as rivals Manchester United are said to be weighing up a January move for the 23-year-old Nice star.

According to The Sun (h/t Metro), United view Todibo as an option to strengthen their injury-hit defence in the winter window. The Red Devils already showed interest in the French centre-back over the summer of 2023.

This looming bid could threaten Chelsea’s plans to bring in Todibo as a long-term successor to veteran Thiago Silva at the heart of their own backline. The Brazilian is in the twilight of his career and could be in his final season at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea eying Jean-Clair Todibo as Thiago Silva replacement.
Chelsea eying Jean-Clair Todibo as Thiago Silva replacement.

Chelsea might face an uphill battle due to United’s new potential owner Jim Ratcliffe

The Blues envision the talented 23-year-old eventually taking over from Silva to form a new defensive partnership with Reece James, Benoit Badiashile, and Levi Colwill. But United’s interest could force Chelsea into a transfer tussle.

Todibo has rebuilt his reputation in Ligue 1 with Nice after struggling at Barcelona. His assured displays have put him on the radar of elite clubs like Chelsea and United. He is still young enough to resurrect his career at a top club.

With United set to be part-owned by Nice’s owner Jim Ratcliffe, they may hold the upper hand in any race to sign Todibo. Ratcliffe’s ties could smooth negotiations. But Chelsea will not give up easily on a prime target who would strengthen their defence for years. Todibo has the physical and technical profile the Blues desire at the back.

 Chelsea are looking into Jean-Clair Todibo as a possible replacement for Thiago Silva. (imago Images)
Chelsea are looking into Jean-Clair Todibo as a possible replacement for Thiago Silva. (imago Images)

Convincing the Frenchman to choose Stamford Bridge over Old Trafford will be the challenge. Chelsea must now make a compelling case on why they are the right next step for the emerging centre-back’s career. With Silva ageing, assurances over playing time could be pivotal.

There are still uncertainties over ownership at United too that Chelsea could try to exploit. But luring Todibo from familiar surroundings in France will not be straightforward. If both Premier League giants formalise their interest in January, Todibo faces a tough decision. Joining Chelsea and the long-term Silva succession plan remains the preferred outcome.

But the Red Devils will be motivated to pip their rivals to the highly-rated 23-year-old’s signature as they urgently seek defensive reinforcements.

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Todibo has the potential to be an elite centre back at the top level for over a decade and becoming a part of Mauricio Pochettino’s squad will certainly be beneficial for him as he will find good teammates here. That’s why two of England’s biggest clubs are set to go head-to-head over the Nice man in 2024.