Denmark and Wolfsburg defender Simon Kjaer in action against Holland during the group stages of this summer's World Cup.
Graham linked to a tweet this morning indicating we had interest in Kjaer, who currently plays for VFL Wolfsburg of the Bundesliga. Kjaer is a 6'3" centerback and is a regular starter on the Danish national team. At 21 (turning 22 in March), he appears to be an ideal fit for Chelsea both in the short term and for many years to come. He joined Wolfsburg this summer for a 12 million euro fee. He's started 14 of 16 contests there, scoring 1 goal and playing generally very solid defense.
Wolfsburg, the 2008-2009 Bundesliga champions, have struggled this season and are currently sitting on the bottom half of the table. Having missed out on Europe for this year, Wolfsburg decided to spend on Kjaer and hold on to their star player (Dzeko) in hopes of returning to Europe. Their prospects for european football appear dim, as they currently sit 14th. Without the expected payday of Europe, Edin Dzeko and Simon Kjaer are both very likely to be sold either in January or this coming summer. Most of the numbers I'm hearing tossed around for Kjaer are anywhere between 7-20 million pounds, which would be between a relative steal and fair value for the Danish defender.
Kjaer made his professional debut for Danish Superliga club FC Midtjylland on September 30, 2007. He immediately became a first team regular and started the teams last 15 games that season. He was sold the following summer to Italian club Palermo for a fee of 4 million euros. Kjaer made his debut for Palermo on October 26, 2008. As was the case with FC Midtjylland, Kjaer immediatley impressed with Palermo and became a regular starter for the club. He registered 62 appearances, scoring 5 goals in that time, before being sold to Wolfsburg this past summer. He was a regular starter on the Danish side during World Cup qualifying and then the World Cup itself.
At 6'3", Kjaer is among the better defenders in the world in the air both in defense and attack. He's known for being quite fast for a defender of his size, and he's strong enough to hold his own against the larger attackers he'd see in the premier league. From a physical standpoint, Kjaer has all of the tools necessary to be one of the best centerbacks in the world for the foreseeable future. He also sees the field extremely well for a player his age, and his change of direction ability and pace would make him an ideal partner with an aging John Terry to cover for Terry's declining range. He's also known for being very strong in defending set pieces. Because of his physical style, he's been linked with the top clubs in Europe for some time. He seems to understand that he'd likely be an ideal fit for the English game, as evidenced by this quote:
The Premier League is the best league in the world and then there is Barcelona and Real Madrid in Spain. England and the physical playing style would probably suit me better.
Kjaer, while a top shelf defender, does have some polish still to acquire at this point. He's been noted repeatedly in the past for having a tendency to drift forward in attack and being out of position on the counter. He also has moments where he appears to be watching the attack more than focusing on the opposition, and will let an opponent have a free run behind him from time to time because of this. While these tendencies are a bit of a concern, they are fairly normal in young defenders. Training full time with John Terry would likely do wonders for his development.
Kjaer has been linked with ourselves, Liverpool, United, Arsenal, City, and Tottenham in the last year (along with Madrid, Barca, and other top European clubs). He seems to value the opportunity to play over any club in particular, as evidenced by this comment (he was apparently a Liverpool fan growing up):
If United just had two defenders whilst Liverpool had three, I would choose United without hesitation. It does not help to choose with the heart in that kind of situation. I am a professional
Chelsea would seem to be at the top of his list with their current situation in the center of defense, and he didn't appear to be holding out for an outrageous salary just this past summer. Kjaer would also be one of the few defenders of his ability we could get that aren't currently cup tied, so he'd be available to help in this year's Champions League. Of all the defenders we've been linked to thus far, Kjaer and David Luiz are my personal preferences, and due to rumored cost and European considerations I'd prefer Kjaer at this point. Hopefully there's some truth to this rumor.