Amidst everything Chelsea have been through in almost the last decade and a half, there has been one constant. John Terry, who made his debut for the Blues back in 1998 in a League Cup against Aston Villa, has gone on to become the most successful captain in the club’s history. He joined the club at the age of 14 and has never looked back, establishing himself as one of the best centre-backs the Premier League has ever seen.
Now, at the age of 33, Terry’s long and illustrious career is approaching its swan song. He is still good enough to get into the Chelsea side every week. But with the club’s policy of not giving players over 30 an extension of more than a year, it is quite likely that the Englishman may leave Stamford Bridge either at the end of this season, or in a couple of years.
Terry’s departure will leave huge boots to fill. The former England captain has made over 600 appearances for Chelsea, and has captained them to 3 Premier League titles, 4 FA Cups, 2 League Cups and 1 Champions League. He is more than just a legend to the Chelsea fans, he is one of their own. And even at this age, he continues to put in top performances on a regular basis. With Gary Cahill, he has formed what is arguably the best centre-back pairing in the Premier League at the moment.
Here, we take a look at five potential replacements for John Terry when the skipper’s tenure at Chelsea comes to an end:
1) Kurt Zouma (Chelsea):
The first name on the list is of a player who is already at Chelsea. Kurt Zouma arrived from St.Etienne in January this year. After being loaned back to the French side for the remainder of last season, he has been included in the Chelsea squad this year. The 20 year-old Frenchman has bags of potential, and Jose Mourinho clearly has a lot of confidence in him. He has made 5 appearances for the Blues this season, including 2 in the Champions League. Didier Deschamps, manager of the French national side, has said that he already sees Zouma as a future captain for his country. When Terry hangs up his boots, Zouma looks a good bet to step into the first team and become a regular for Chelsea.
2) Gerard Pique (Barcelona):
Gerard Pique and Chelsea would have never been mentioned in the same sentence at the start of the season. But things change in football, and sometimes, the most unlikeliest of transfers go through. The Barcelona man has been linked with a move to Stamford Bridge recently after being left out of the side by Luis Enrique. A regular for the Catalans for the past 6 years, the 27 year-old’s relationship with the manager is rumoured to be extremely strained. Pique has bucket-loads of experience at the top level, and is a three-time Champions League winner. He also has two European Championships and a World Cup to his name with the Spanish national side. The former Manchester United man is a proven product who is capable of walking straight into the shoes vacated by John Terry.
He will not come in cheap though, with the transfer fee mentioned being in the range of £24 million.
3) Raphael Varane (Real Madrid)
Jose Mourinho has openly expressed his admiration for Raphael Varane on several occasions and has also admitted that he would look at signing him for Chelsea. The Portuguese manager brought Varane to the Santiago Bernabeu from Lens in 2011 and under him, the Frenchman played regularly in the first team. The 21 year-old is a proper, no-nonsense defender. He is fantastic in the air and is an extremely intelligent reader of the game. These qualities are strikingly similar to that of John Terry and were Mourinho successful in landing Varane at Stamford Bridge, he could well become Chelsea’s next star.
The Frenchman will be available for around £19 million.
4) Aymeric Laporte (Athletic Bilbao)
Currently the hottest property when it comes to young defenders, Aymeric Laporte has caught the eye of several top clubs across Europe. Soccerlens recently reported that Manchester United have him on their radar and are planning to spend a whopping €42 million to buy him. The 20 year-old Frenchman has been absolutely outstanding for Bilbao in the last couple of seasons. Chelsea haven’t reported to have shown interest so far, but they will not be far away when he is available. He is young, talented and intelligent, and has all the qualities to replace Terry at the heart of the Blues’ defence.
5) Andreas Christensen (Chelsea)
Andreas Christensen is another player Chelsea already have on their books who is capable of replacing Terry. The versatile defender can play anywhere in the backline, and made his debut as right-back recently against Shrewsbury Town, playing the full 90 minutes in a 2-1 win. The 18 year-old still has a long way to go before becoming a first-team regular, but Mourinho has vowed to optimally exploit the young talent that the club have at their disposal.