Chelsea may be top of the Premier League, have a Capital One Cup final coming up in a few weeks and generally looking like things are all going well, but that does not mean they are not thinking about the future - this time it is a replacement for John Terry.
Stamford Bridge legend and Blues captain, Terry has been in very good form so far this season and has been an integral part of Jose Mourinho's men being five points clear at the summit of the league, but it won't last forever.
He turned 34 a couple of months ago and, while he has been maintaining his high level of performance, there can't be a great deal of time left for him at the top of the game. It's little surprise that Chelsea are searching out a long-term replacement and they have been watching three possible candidates.
According to the Daily Mail, Real Madrid star Raphael Varane, Atletico Madrid's Jose Gimenez and Athletic Bilbao's Aymeric Laporte are the three highest on the list. The latter of the three is reportedly also a Manchester United target, so a tussle between the Premier League giants could be interesting.
Laporte has been in very good form this season and has made himself an integral part of the Athletic first team over the last couple of seasons. However, signing him will not be cheap as reports claim the Basque club are not ready to consider any bid below his £32million release clause.
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Louis van Gaal is desperate for a new dominant defender, but that might be pushing it in terms of price for a 20-year-old, even for this new free-spending Manchester United. Chelsea have also limited their spending over the last couple of seasons because of Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations.
Mourinho's scouts have been closely watching him and Gimenez - a virtual unknown to European football until he arrived at Atletico last season - closely, but there should be no need for that with Varane.
The France international was almost an ever-present when Mourinho was in charge at Real Madrid and the Mail report claims he tried to bring him along when he left the Santiago Bernabeu for Stamford Bridge in 2013, but Madrid refused to sell. Manchester United have also been credited with an interest in him too.
Ready Replacement Already In Place?
Meanwhile, there is already a young player at Chelsea showing he may have what to takes to fill the void left by Terry once he moves on or retires. Kurt Zouma's recent performances have seen him work his way into the starting XI and he has shown some great potential.
However, there have been glimpses of a potentially fine partnership developing between him and Terry, so it could be Gary Cahill whose future in in jeopardy in the short-term. The report also claims that Terry is almost certain to sign another year's extension before the summer, so the scouting will likely go on for another season or two.
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