No man is safe from the sands of time, and it appears that the clock is indeed catching up with John Terry. Although the Chelsea skipper is still a first-team regular, at the grand old age of 35, soon to be 36, the London club are seemingly growing more and more aware that relying on ‘JT’ is not the most effective forward-thinking strategy and are reportedly looking at potential long-term replacements.
However, the Blues have more in mind than just signing a good defender, the ideal candidate needs to be home-grown to replace Terry’s quota-filling status in their ranks and has to be a long-term option… so in short, young, English talent is the aim of the game.
Luckily for the Premier League heavyweights, there’s a new generation of centre-backs coming through after what has been a fallow period for defending, and we at FootballFanCast have grouped FIVE options together to help out Chelsea’s scouting team…
A product of Manchester United’s youth academy, Keane met a glass ceiling at Old Trafford after loan spells in the Football League and eventually slipped away to Burnley, initially on loan, and has since shone at Turf Moor. The 16-cap England U-21 international has been tipped for a bright future for some time now and his spell in the Championship as he helped the Clarets make an immediate return to the Premier League was notable. If he can prove his talents across a full campaign at the top table, he may be a genuine option.
Stepping up from League One to the Premier League is a big jump, and this season will tell us a lot about Swansea new boy Mawson. The 22-year-old shone for Barnsley last term as they gained promotion to the Championship via the play-offs, netting an impressive six goals – some going for a defender. It’s that set-piece prowess that’s got us thinking of Terry circa mid-2000s, with the Chelsea hero having been uncompromising and ruthless in both boxes.
Whether Oxford’s future is at centre-back or as a holding midfielder remains unconfirmed, but the West Ham man certainly has the attributes to excel in either role. The 17-year-old rose to prominence last season with a performance of genuine note at the age of 16, when he shackled Mesut Ozil in a memorable opening weekend win at Arsenal. Oxford is expected to play more regularly this season after Slaven Bilic used him sparingly last term, and should he impress, the Irons may find it tough to keep him at the London Stadium.
Not ‘home-grown’ in the traditional sense, Denmark international Christensen needs just one more full season registered as a Chelsea player to meet the criteria. The 20-year-old is currently in his second successive loan campaign at Borussia Monchengladbach, and after his excellent Bundesliga displays through 2015/16 there have even been reports that Chelsea are considering giving him a chance. Christensen might be tempted to return to London should there be the promise of game time.
Already being dubbed the ‘new John Stones’ after following the now Manchester City man from Barnsley to Everton, Holgate has featured in all three of the Toffees’ Premier League ties so far this season, looking accomplished along the way. A classy defender, the 19-year-old can play at both right-back and centre-back and is being tipped for a bright future after winning eight caps at U-20 level with England.