Five centre back replacements for Chelsea captain John Terry
John Terry rolled back the years with an all-round captain’s performance against Tottenham in the Capital One Cup final, grabbing a goal and making several crucial interceptions.
The 34-year-old has been essential this season and, as one of the Premier League’s finest ever defenders, Chelsea (13/2 with Coral to win the Champions League) will surely find Terry tough to replace.
Coaches need their skippers to step up on the big stage and the Chelsea veteran has rarely slipped up. A contract extension, rumoured to be in the works, is still to be signed and Jose Mourinho will know he must replace his captain fantastic sooner rather than later.
So, who could fill Terry’s inspirational boots?
Leandro Castan (Roma)
Currently out of action following brain surgery, recruiting Castan could certainly be viewed as a risk. However the Brazil international has been so impressive for the Giallorossi, stepping in to fill the space left by departed Mehdi Benatia, that the talented 28-year-old is more than worth the risk.
Experienced, composed and intelligent, Castan has become a cult hero at the Stadio Olimpico with good reason. Should the centre back return strongly this season, a summer move could still be in the offing.
John Stones (Everton)
As far as long-term potential goes, Stones is up there with the likes of Raphael Varane and Aymeric Laporte in terms of raw talent.
While reports suggest Mourinho is keen to return to Real Madrid for former charge Varane, the France international has had a shaky season. Stones’ return from injury, meanwhile, has evidently lifted Everton’s defence.
Terry has always been underrated for his ability on the ball, but Stones is certainly assured in possession and an excellent passer. A quiet leader at the moment, Mourinho’s influence would surely make the youngster more vocal.
Diego Godin (Atletico Madrid)
The Uruguay international’s aerial ability, organisation and set piece threat could ease the future loss of Terry.
Instinctive interceptions and a great ability to read the game have seen Godin emerge as a leader in one of Europe’s most stubborn defences. The Atleti centre back star could slot seamlessly into life at Stamford Bridge alongside former clubmates Diego Costa and Filipe Luis, as current coach Diego Simeone is an organised and demanding tactician somewhat in the mould of Mourinho.
Atletico would be loath to part with one of their prize possessions, with Godin’s defensive partner Miranda supposedly more likely to be sacrificed in summer. However, should the Blues return to raid Madrid and offer a blockbuster fee, the Spanish capital club may find a deal too good to refuse.
Nicolas Otamendi (Valencia)
Los Che leader Otamendi is supposedly the subject of Manchester United interest, but could also be an interesting option for Chelsea.
Impressive for Valencia this campaign, the Argentina international is a tough tackler willing to put his body on the line just like Terry. Also adept at bringing the ball out from the back, Otamendi would suit the Blues’ new aesthetic and swashbuckling style to a tee.
Phil Jones (Manchester United)
Just like Stones, adding Jones to the mix would help solve Chelsea’s woeful home-grown quota issue. The adaptable Manchester United man was once tipped to be England’s next brave lion, but has stalled at Old Trafford.
Jones has all the passion and physical attributes needed to follow in Terry’s footsteps. However, often impetuous and rash in the tackle, the 23-year-old is in need of a steady hand to guide him.
Mourinho is defensively savvy enough to play versatile Jones in his natural position and a provide stable defence to support the youngster. In the secure Stamford Bridge environment, Jones could thrive.
United (11/4 to lift the FA Cup) would likely refuse to sell to their rivals but, with Mourinho’s mentor Louis van Gaal looking to overhaul his rearguard, stranger things could happen.