Are you all excited for the rebirth of the Chelsea and John Stones saga? No?
Well, John Stones may well move to the Blue part of London this summer. John Terry isn’t getting any younger, Gary Cahill is struggling for form and Kurt Zouma has suffered a nasty injury. Even if he doesn’t move, we can be sure to be treated to rumour after rumour of supposed bids and comments by Stones’ agent.
Chelsea, however, would be sensible to look elsewhere if they are to add to their defence. Stones’ poor form in 2016 may well be more than a blip and a significant loss of confidence early in a player’s career can be hard to recover from. Chelsea do not need to be nurturing another player when they are looking for a long-term partner to Kurt Zouma.
As good as Stones is, he needs to be on the top of his game from the start.
There are better alternatives, we hear you say? Well, here they are…
It’s unlikely Gimenez would leave Atletico Madrid for Chelsea at the moment, but the Blues certainly have the financial clout to test the Spanish club’s resolve.
The Uruguayan is a terrific man-to-man defender who can occasionally be slightly rash with his decision-making. A concern for Antonio Conte would be Gimenez’s limitations on the ball and this might deter the Blues from breaking the bank for the La Liga youngster.
Marquinhos has struggled to play regularly at centre-back for PSG this season, with Thiago Silva and David Luiz dominating Laurent Blanc’s favour in that position.
The Brazilian is only 21 and, although there may be teething issues alongside Zouma, could form a strong partnership for the next decade. Like Zouma, Marquinhos has the pace to play in a high-line defence and can fill-in at right-back when required.
The most experienced option on this list, Howedes is now 28.
The Schalke man is one of the most versatile alternatives to Stones and he can fill in anywhere across the defence. A World Cup winner with Germany in 2014, Howedes would be able to aid the development of Kurt Zouma.
Unlike Branislav Ivanovic and John Terry, Benedikt Howedes still has his best years ahead.
Van Dijk has just signed a mammoth contract with Southampton, but, if the price is right, the Saints would surely still be tempted into a sale in the same way they were with Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw, Morgan Schneiderlin and others.
An excellent ball-player, Van Dijk would nicely complement Zouma’s hardened approach and give the Blues more of an option of passing out from the back.
Varane is yet to reach the lofty heights that so many expected of him.
Sergio Ramos and Pepe are still holding firm as Real Madrid’s first choice central defensive partnership and Varane might be open to a move if he can be guaranteed minutes.
Although still young himself, Varane would be a brilliant partner for his compatriot, Zouma.