After Chelsea thrashed Championship outfit MK Dons by a 5-1 scoreline in the FA Cup’s Fourth Round yesterday afternoon, legendary skipper John Terry made the shock announcement that he’s set to leave Stamford Bridge when his contract expires at the end of the season – as reported by BBC Sport.
Blues officials have since insisted that their 696-game servant could yet be offered a new deal, but considering the need for fresh blood in west London following the most disastrous season of Roman Abramovic’s ownership tenure, it wouldn’t be hugely surprising to see the 35-year-old move on.
Which begs the question; who could replace Chelsea’s Captain, Leader, Legend at the heart of their defence? With the Blues already seemingly planning for next season, we at Football Fancast have been running the rule over five potential successors.
Which of these five should the club target next summer, Chelsea fans? Or is there another candidate we’ve somehow overlooked? Let us know by commenting below!
A suggestion recently mooted by Mirror Football. Although Crystal Palace’s Scott Dann is by no means the most fashionable of centre-backs, he’s a capable top-half defender and could prove to be an incredibly shrewd addition – similar to Chelsea’s swoop for Gary Cahill in January 2012.
Indeed, the Englishman measures in at a whopping 6 foot 5 and uses his aerial menace at both ends of the pitch, maintaining the Chelsea tradition of goal-scoring centre-halves, with six goals in 70 outings for the South Londoners.
Furthermore and perhaps most importantly, the 28-year-old can operate on either side of the centre-back partnership; manning the right for the Eagles but the left during a prior top-flight spell with Birmingham City. That could prove incredibly useful at a club like Chelsea, especially considering the Blues don’t currently have a defender well-schooled in the LCB role other than John Terry.
Of course, few would put Dann in the same calibre as the Chelsea skipper; whereas Terry was always a very complete player, the former Walsall and Coventry man is more a master of the defensive basics. But his arrival would accommodate Kurt Zouma as the club’s undisputed centre-back star, with Cahill and Dann representing experienced, dependable partners to put alongside him.
John Stones represents perhaps the most obvious candidate to succeed John Terry, considering Chelsea notoriously saw three bids for the Everton defender rejected last summer – the most lucrative believed to be worth a whopping £38million.
Certainly an eye-watering sum but the 21-year-old seems worth the investment. He’s emerged as one of the most exciting home-grown talents in the Premier League since moving to Goodison Park in January 2013, boasting rare agility and quality on the ball for an English centre-half.
Some have compared him to a young Rio Ferdinand, others the legendary Bobby Moore, and the 6 foot 2 defender’s enormous potential is evident enough through the vast cohort of top European clubs reportedly targeting him alongside the Blues – the likes of Manchester City, Manchester United, Barcelona and Real Madrid.
Stones’ pace and ability to create from the back would certainly add a sense of modernity to Chelsea’s otherwise traditional backline. But his ball-playing instincts have resulted in some very costly individual errors this season, so Stones might not be ready for a club of the west London outfit’s stature just yet.
London Evening Standard claim Chelsea actually targeted Atletico Madrid’s Jose Gimenez over John Stones last summer, only for their approaches to fall on deaf ears, and it’s not hard to see why.
The 21-year-old’s performances last season were enough to convince Diego Simeone to part with Brazilian veteran Miranda in summer 2015 and he’s continued to excel this year, as a near ever-present figure in an Atletico backline that has conceded just ten times (yes, just ten) in La Liga.
What stands out most about Gimenez is that he’s already a very complete defender, with few particularly notable weaknesses, and has taken on enormous responsibility for a player so young. He’s now a guaranteed starter at Vincente Calderon and has already represented Uruguay on 21 occasions.
Whether he moves to Chelsea or not, something tells me the 6 foot 1 centre-half will become one of world football’s leading centre-backs at some point in his career. Unfortunately, however, Atletico’s impending transfer ban could stand in the way of a Stamford Bridge switch during the summer.
Mats Hummels is widely regarded as one of the top centre-backs in world football and has been mooted to move to the Premier League for much of his Borussia Dortmund career – most commonly with Manchester United.
A modern manifestation of Franz Beckenbauer, the German international is perhaps best famed for his ability to drive play from the back with long-range passing and powerful dribbles, but he’s also a very talented defender whose 6 foot 4 frame dominates in the air and bullies others on the ground.
Furthermore and perhaps most importantly, the 27-year-old has the experience to fill the leadership void John Terry will inevitably leave behind this summer. He’s served as Dortmund skipper since 2014, has lifted two Bundesliga titles, featured in a Champions League final and won a World Cup final.
Even more appealingly, Hummels’ Dortmund contract will enter its final twelve months come the summer. Although we’ve been in similar situations before, the circumstances seem a little different this time around with Jurgen Klopp no longer at the Westfalenstadion helm.
Many view Thiago Silva as the best centre-half of his generation and Chelsea were linked with a shock loan swoop for the PSG skipper earlier in the transfer window.
Indeed, the 6 foot defender is the complete centre-back package; he’s strong, quick, formidable in the air, reads the game exceptionally well and possesses all the technical quality you’d expect from a 58-cap Brazil international.
At 31 years of age, Silva doesn’t offer Chelsea much in the way of longevity – he’s only four years younger than John Terry, for example. But even if the South American is on the Stamford Bridge books for just two or three seasons, he’d still constitute an incredibly worthwhile addition.
Would Silva want to move and would PSG be prepared to sell? Well, that could largely depend on how far PSG progress in the Champions League this season as they hone in on a fourth consecutive Ligue 1 title.
But the defender’s contract will enter its final two years in the summer and he’s running out of time to ply his trade in another major European top flight before retiring. A move to the Premier League would be the ultimate test of whether he’s a true all-time great.