Scouting 6 Potential Long-Term Successors to John Terry at Chelsea
Captaining the side for nine of those years, he has overseen the greatest triumphs in the club’s history and put himself on the line time and again.
Jose Mourinho has hinted that Terry will be offered an extension on his current contract, which is set to expire next summer; however, the 32-year-old’s career is certainly beginning to wind down.
Now is the perfect time to look to the future and begin the search for a long-term replacement for Terry. He still has a few years left in him, but it would be sensible to find his successor soon so that he can mentor them before passing the baton.
It should be noted at this point that the search is not for the future captain, but for a centre-half who is willing to give as much to the club as Terry has over the years.
All statistics taken from whoscored.com
Current club: Schalke ‘04
Kyriakos Papadopoulos is a 21-year-old centre-half who plays for Schalke ’04 and the Greek national team.
Having begun his career at Olympiakos, Papadopoulos became the youngest player to appear in the Greek league, making his debut in 2007 at the age of 15.
He moved to the Bundesliga in 2010 where he has made a name for himself as a strong centre-half who is equally adept in the air and on the ground.
Although his commitment to the cause has drawn some accusations of ill-discipline, his no-nonsense approach to defending is remarkably similar to Terry’s.
Current Club: Inter Milan
Juan Jesus joined Inter Milan on 30 January 2012, having begun his career playing Futsal in Brazil.
The 22-year-old can play as a centre-half or at left-back and has made four appearances for the Brazilian national team. His affinity for marauding forward with the ball at his feet is similar to that of David Luiz, and he makes more tackles and interceptions per game than his compatriot.
While the idea of having two centre-halves who like to roam is more than a little terrifying, Luiz’s growing maturity and evident leadership qualities would make him the perfect defensive partner for Juan.
Current club: Schalke ‘04
Schalke are currently blessed with a wealth of young centre-backs. Alongside Papadopoulos, 22-year-old Joel Matip has made a name for himself since joining the Bundesliga side’s youth setup in 2000.
He scored a vital equaliser against Bayern Munich on his debut and was named man of the match, and has made 16 appearances for Cameroon.
Despite his height advantage, Matip’s main weakness is aerial duels, but his ability to read the game makes his tackling and interceptions among the highest of all the players scouted here.
Current club: Lyon
Samuel Umtiti is equally comfortable as a centre-half or left-back. The 19-year-old is eligible to represent both France and Cameroon at International level, although he has stuck with the former so far.
Umtiti rose to prominence in Ligue 1 last season as Lyon finished third, reaching the qualifying round of the Champions League in the process. They have suffered a tricky start to the season so far and are currently 11th in France’s top division; however, Umtiti is doing his bit to halt the slide.
The youngster averages 5.4 clearances and 3.7 accurate long balls per game for his club. He is strong in the air and boasts a passing accuracy of 82 percent on average, while his pace offers plenty of options to the counter-attack.
Current Club: Chelsea
Chelsea might not have to splash out a hefty transfer fee on a young centre-half as they have several potential greats already at the club.
The 20-year-old Tomas Kalas was singled out for Mourinho’s praise on the pre-season tour of Asia. The manager made it clear that he would feature for the first-team during the 2013-14 season, an ambition hampered by a small leg fracture sustained in preseason training.
He returned to training in September and is making good progress.
Kalas spent the 2012-13 season out on loan at Vitesse Arnhem where he scored one goal in 37 appearances, helping the side to a seventh-place finish in the Eredivisie.
His current deal at Chelsea runs until 2017, giving the hierarchy plenty of time to assess whether he will be able to succeed Terry at centre-half in the long term.
Current Club: Chelsea
Nathan Ake is another youngster already at Chelsea who could potentially replace John Terry in the long term.
He made his full debut in the FA Cup under Rafa Benitez last season, although his excellent performance was overshadowed by the Spaniard’s post-match outburst.
Versatility is Ake’s strong point as he is able to play both at centre-half and in a defensive midfield position. He signed a five-year contract this summer and will remain at Chelsea for the 2013-14 season, earning both home-grown and club-trained status for the Premier League.
The 18-year-old is one of the brightest prospects in Chelsea’s under-21 side and hopefully has a long future in blue ahead of him.