It will always be difficult for Chelsea fans to say goodbye to their controversial ‘Captain, leader, legend’ John Terry. The emotional loss felt by the supporters will also coincide with an imminent conflict of interests upon the pitch, as leaders try to establish themselves within the Chelsea squad to take over the Stamford Bridge captaincy.
I’ve taken a look at the contenders who are vying to take on Terry’s mantle in order of likeliness.
Thibaut Courtois: His performances of late would suggest that he may not be captain material, his caution when deciding whether to come off his line has led many to question his decision making skills and even commitment to the cause. Still only 23-years-old, the Belgian goalkeeper still has time on his side to become an all-time great and is within an outside chance of getting the armband. His position on the pitch may play to his advantage as it would make him ideal for issuing instructions to his fellow team-mates from the back.
Kurt Zouma: Still remarkably young at just 21 years-old, but like Terry he would probably relish the opportunity to take on the captaincy at such a young age. His cultivated performances over the past two seasons would suggest that he is more than capable in leading the next generation of Chelsea players to glory – just as John Terry did over a decade ago when José Mourinho installed him as captain after Marcel Desailly’s decision to retire.
A lot will depend if he can come back strong enough after suffering a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament after landing awkwardly in a match against Manchester United in February 2016. The captaincy is not without question, but perhaps the 2016/17 season will be more about getting back to full fitness rather than taking on the captain’s role.
Gary Cahill: The former Bolton Wanderers centre-back has for some time been living in the shadow of the man who’s captaincy may well be beckoning and he could well revel in the position as Chelsea’s chief dignitary next season. The England international has a very important role to play at the club over the next few years as he is trusted to continue to mould the careers of fledgling defenders Matt Miazga and Kurt Zouma – a job that Terry has so competently initiated in recent seasons.
Branislav Ivanović: The Serbian stalwart is among one of the longest-serving Chelsea players – his experience could prove invaluable. Although his age may see him become surplus to requirements under the imminent regime of Antonio Conte, he still is a quality right-back and commands respect within the club.
Perhaps the only issue with him taking the armband is his inconsistent performances this season which are without doubt a cause for concern for the club.
Cesc Fàbregas: Probably the most applicable candidate for the Chelsea captaincy, considering his experience as Arsenal captain from 2008-2011. With his rallying performance at home to West Ham United last month proving that he still has all the attributes commonly associated with a captain, the Spaniard is a likely candidate. His performances in last year’s Championship winning season were nothing short of inspirational. Fàbregas would in my opinion make him the best choice for the captains armband to oversea the club’s title challenge during the 2016-17 Premier League season.
Antonio Conte may well decide that someone else should take on the role of replacing Terry as captain, but he may even decide to keep him at the club either as a player or a member of his back-room staff. But what we do know for sure is that a legacy is soon coming to an end and the new captain will have to come out of the shadows to be the successor of one of Chelsea’s greatest ever players.