With John Terry coming towards the end of his career, we take a look at five of the potential successors to Chelsea's most successful captain.
Born in Freetown, Sierra Leone, Nathaniel Chalobah has become a key part of the England Under 21s at just 19 years of age- he also captains Gareth Southgate's team. A Chelsea lad since his pre-teens and a natural born leader, Chalobah has been widely tipped as one for the future, with his club showing their faith with a new five-year contract in the summer to keep him at the club until 2018. Chalobah spent last season at Championship side Watford to gain crustal first team experience, and helped Gianfranco Zola's side to a play-off final spot against Crystal Palace. Although the teenager has struggled for outstanding performances this season, his development ensures his future is relatively bright.
Dutch defender Nathan Ake came onto the Chelsea scene last season when he replaced Juan Mata in the closing stages of the club's Premier League clash with Norwich. Signed from Feyenoord in 2011, Ake's development has come a long since and he has made 6 Chelsea appearances to date. At just 19 years of age, Ake has been capped 5 times by Netherlands Under 21s. The Dutchman is also captain of Chelsea's reserve side, although he has now been rewarded for his efforts be training with the first team. Like Chalobah, Ake signed a contract extension in the summer, proving the club's trust and faith in him. Although primarily a left-back Ake is also comfortable in the centre of defence and in midfield.
Chelsea swooped for the French centre back earlier this year, with £12 million of Roman Abramovich's money going the other way. A tough centre back, Zouma is a product of St Etienne's academy and has made over 50 appearances for the club. The 19 year old has been compared on a number of occasions to former Chelsea defender Marcel Desailly. Zouma has been capped twice for France Under 21s and has been tipped to represent France at full international level in the near future. Upon signing for Chelsea in January, The Guardian listed Zouma as one of the top ten promising youngsters on the continent. Zouma has been loaned back to St Etienne until the end of the season.
Although an already established member of the Chelsea and England squad, Gary Cahill could still be a direct replacement for John Terry. The 28 year old hasn't much to prove and his CV makes for impressive reading: He helped Chelsea to back-to-back European success in 2012 and 2013; he played a vital part in securing an FA Cup win for Chelsea in 2012; and he has 22 caps for England. Cahill's partnership with Terry on the pitch ensures an efficient defensive display, but could Cahill himself take that leadership role, currently led by Terry, as his own? We could see Brazilian defender David Luiz partner Gary Cahill in the not too distant future. Cahill has shown small glimpses that he is a leader and therefore could be a direct Terry replacement.
Sheffield-born centre back Harry Maguire has been linked with a move to the Bridge in recent months. The Sheffield United defender, 20, has one cap for England Under 21s and has been described as one for the future. Maguire put in a comfortable display in the FA Cup against Premier League opposition Fulham, as United sealed a 1-0 victory. There has been talk of a potential move but nothing concrete yet. Maguire was named the club's 'Player of the Season' and 'Young Player of the Season' in 2012 as he helped the club to promotion. In that same year, he also features in BBC Match of the Day's 'League One Team of the Year'.
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