Fernando Torres and 5 Chelsea Players Who Will Emerge as Leaders This Season
Chelsea are coming off one of the most interesting campaigns in the club's history.
Not only did the Blues manage to once again win an FA Cup, but the team finally managed to seal the deal in extra time to win a first—and London's first—UEFA Champions League title.
What's more, all of this happened under an out-of-his-element manager, a divided locker room and an interim boss that everyone most likely thought was set up for failure.
What happened in the final three months of Chelsea's 2011-12 campaign is something that may never be witnessed again.
This coming season, the club face a whole new set of challenges. Major personnel changes have taken place, and Roberto Di Matteo has been named the team's official manager.
It is time for many of the players to take a stand and become strong voices and leaders for the club, both on the pitch and in the club house.
Here are six players who must stand up and make a difference for the club as leaders this season.
During Chelsea's powerful run through the mid 2000s, Michael Essien was arguably the greatest holding midfielder in the game. However, a major injury slowed him down and saw him miss much of the last part of the decade.
His form finally appears to be returning this preseason, and I expect he will set an example for John Obi Mikel and young Oriol Romeu, even if he's not always in the first team.
Gary Cahill can be the club's next John Terry—except without the controversy.
With the two England center-backs set to anchor the defense for their first full campaign together this season, Cahill will have to start stepping up. The future of Chelsea's defense rests on his shoulders.
Florent Malouda looked as though he was going to leave the club this summer, but now could very well remain at least until January.
Malouda is a highly skilled and smart wide player. The French international's leadership and experience will be key for the younger players, their development and the future of the club.
The overbearing shadow of Didier Drogba has officially left Chelsea, and there is no player on the Blues team sheet that is happier than Fernando Torres.
Fresh off a winning summer with Spain at the 2012 UEFA European Championships, Torres is ready to finally come good for the club that spent £50 million to sign him 18 months ago.
It is the time of Torres in London, and El Nino is a storm brewing to once again make his mark in England.
The Spaniard has no choice but to succeed and rise up to lead the line for Chelsea this season.
The 2012 Chelsea Player of the Season, Juan Mata is no longer the new guy on the block.
With the additions of Eden Hazard, Marko Marin and even Thorgan Hazard in the reserves, I look for Mata to step up and show the new boys that you can move, settle and make an immediate difference if you truly work at it.
Frank Lampard has always been a leader for the Blues. Having been named the club's player of the year three times in his career, he has proven he can get it done on the pitch.
However, this season, I look for him to become more of a vocal force than ever before. His age is going to start having an effect on his physical ability, but his experience and vocal communication should only get better.
With all the new youth around him in the middle of the park, I look for him to become the driving force of Chelsea's attack.