Ahead of the 2015/2016 season Jose Mourinho will feel as though little needs to be changed in his title-winning side. However, with an ageing back line, Chelsea must appropriately bolster their options to prepare for the future.
With John Terry in the latter days of his career and Gary Cahill showing signs of inconsistency, Mourinho needs to find a young centre back to partner Kurt Zouma in order to maintain their stature as one of the best defensive teams in the world.
Raphael Varane is one name that crops up frequently in the discussion of up-and-coming centre backs. The young Frenchman has been labelled as one of the best defenders in the world, and having already worked with the Chelsea boss will feel comfortable at the club and may feel inclined to reignite his partnership with the Portuguese to seek more game time.
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Strong, frighteningly quick and capable of reading the game, Varane is the ideal suitor to the aggressive and tough-tackling Zouma. However, with quality comes a price, and a player of Varane's ability and age would comfortably justify a £40 million price tag, though Chelsea rarely shy away from spending big.
In Nicholas Otamendi, 26, Chelsea have a more experienced alternative. Powerful and great in aerial duels, the Argentine has established himself as one of Europe's best centre backs and would no doubt add class and composure to the Blues' back line. His positional awareness and ability to snuff out early danger would bode well with the cover that Zouma would provide with his pace, though it would again take a high bid - perhaps in excess of £40 million - to prize him away from Valencia.
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The youthful but hugely promising John Stones is a third and final option for Mourinho, and has been linked with a £20 million move to Stamford Bridge in recent weeks. His excellent vision and smart positioning renders him tactically astute, and is almost reminiscent of Terry in his younger days.
While the 21-year-old still has much to learn, he has undeniable potential, and under the right management should fulfil it. Should he fail to do so, Stones will likely be seen as yet another overrated and overpriced Englishman, though under the wing of John Terry and managed by The Special One, the youngster can't go far wrong.
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