Chelsea has been one of the top defensive squads in the English Premier League this season, allowing just 30 goals in 29 league matches (only Manchester City has conceded fewer). But that hasn't stopped the Blues from pursuing topflight defensive talent.
With the 2012-13 Premier League campaign coming to a close, Chelsea's shot-callers are focusing their attention on some of the top up-and-coming defenders in the game.
Below we'll highlight a pair of skilled defenders on Chelsea's radar this spring.
Southampton defender Luke Shaw was reported to be on Chelsea's radar back in January, and this month he provided some promising responses when asked about the English Premier League powerhouse, according to the Mirror's Richard Arrowsmith:
When asked who his favourite team were after Southampton, Shaw simply replied 'Chelsea'.
Shaw has been on Chelsea's radar as a possible long-term replacement for Cole, despite recently signing a new contract at St Mary's.
The 17-year-old has tons of potential and will only continue to improve with experience playing against the best in England and internationally with the national team. Shaw is technically sound and has made 17 Premier League starts for the Saints in 2012-13.
Still just a teenager, Shaw has a ways to go before he can be called upon match after match on such a massive stage at Stamford Bridge. But in the meantime, he would provide an excellent backup option in defense for Rafa Benitez.
Another talented young Southampton defender, Nathaniel Clyne, has drawn plenty of interest from Chelsea as the season comes to a close.
Check out this from the Mirror's Steve Stammers:
Chelsea are set to make a £7.5 million move for Nathaniel Clyne this summer.
The Southampton right-back has impressed in his first season in the Premier League and the Blues are keen to bring him to Stamford Bridge.
Clyne, who has starred for the England Under-21 national team, is one of the emerging young defensive talents in England and would be a tremendous pickup for Benitez's squad.
He's made 26 EPL starts for Southampton this season, recording five shots and knocking in a goal.
A hardworking defender, Clyne has both the work ethic and natural ability to star at football's highest level. At age 21, he is still developing and picking up valuable experience, but there's no denying that Clyne can eventually become a reliable piece to Chelsea's back line sometime down the road.
Like Shaw, Clyne is a long-term option and a player that wouldn't necessarily deliver for the club right away. But given Chelsea's sturdy defensive performance this season, the Blues have time to wait.
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