With John Terry set to leave Chelsea in the summer, the Englishman will be ending his astonishing 12-year spell as club captain. It leaves the Blues with a difficult decision as to who will inherit the role that Terry made his own.
Branislav Ivanovic certainly proves a prominent candidate for the role and produced a fine audition when he led out the Blues at Southampton last weekend.
Chelsea are largely starved of experienced players at the club following a recent exodus so choices are scarce. As a result, Ivanovic must prove the man to slip on the captain’s armband going into 2016-17.
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Following Terry’s recent hamstring injury, Guus Hiddink selected Ivanovic to captain Chelsea during their trip to St. Mary’s Stadium. The fact he chose the Serbian is already telling that Hiddink, at the very least, considers him the strongest candidate.
Furthermore, Ivanovic could not have performed better. Despite playing slightly out of position at centre back, the Serbian largely shut out a Saints side in impressive form.
The 32-year-old also scored the winning goal with a late strike, a reminder of his offensive abilities also. In addition, the BBC considered him the Man of the Match and thus put the cherry on the cake for Ivanovic.
While one performance can only be so telling, Ivanovic certainly staked his claim for the captaincy.
Besides, having joined the Stamford Bridge side in 2008, there can be no denying that the Serbian is a loyal servant to the club. There are very few players with such experience with the Blues.
Moreover, his goal-scoring knack is reminiscent of that of Terry’s. A captain must inspire his teammates and Ivanovic regularly does so upon popping up with often crucial strikes.
After all, this is the man whose header won the 2013 Europa League final and whose extra-time strike against Napoli kept Chelsea’s 2012 Champions League dream flickering.
Ivanovic is also a regular in the side. Even when he’s not performing at his optimum, he remains so crucial to the club that he is rarely found on the bench unless injured.
Chelsea are certainly appetised by the prospect of the Serbian being the club skipper after their controversial decision to award him a contract extension this month. His loyalty is certainly being rewarded.
With few better candidates and a style of play eerily like the current captain, Ivanovic seems the perfect man to fill such large boots.
While it might not be until the summer that the news breaks, the 32-year-old passed his audition with flying colours. After eight years of passionate service, it’s the least Chelsea could do for their swashbuckling Serbian.