With John Terry almost certain to be leaving Chelsea this summer, it’s the end of an era at Stamford Bridge. His departure will bring an end to an 18-year spell at the club, the last 12 of which were spent as the club’s swashbuckling skipper.
As a result, there will be an inevitable summer search for Terry’s replacement. With the arrival of Antonio Conte confirmed in the past weeks, it’s likely that this new arrival may be Italian or with a past in the Serie A.
Below are three centre-backs that Chelsea could look to sign during the approaching transfer window to fill the Terry void. While no one can truly replace the 35-year-old, these will at least help the Blues steady the ship next season after a tumultuous 2015-16.
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The Italian has been perhaps the most frequently linked centre-back to the club. Between 2011 and 2014, Bonucci played under the wing of Conte in a period that saw the pair garner three Scudettos.
Bonucci would undoubtedly offer experience to Chelsea at 28-years-old and although he has never played in the Premier League before, he is renowned for his grittiness and physicality. Furthermore, his Juventus background has seen him master the art of playing out from the back.
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He is a winner also. Juventus are on course for their fifth consecutive Serie A title and the centre-back also played in the Euro 2012 final and 2013 Confederation Cup semi-finals.
Perhaps most appealing is his impressive clean sheet record alongside Georgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzgali this season. Between January 10th and March 20th, the Old Lady didn’t concede a single league goal and Bonucci played an integral role in this record.
The experienced Italian has undertaken something of a renaissance since a loan move to Sampdoria but this switch should not detract from his qualities. The Metro has been the first of a few publications to make the link between the 28-year-old and west London.
At six foot and five inches, Ranocchia is an aerial presence and according whoscored.com, his average aerial battles won is greater than that of Kurt Zouma and Terry himself.
Winning the Man of the Match award in his last outing for Sampdoria, in their 2-0 win over Udinese, shows he is currently in a good vein of form. Moreover, his 21 caps for Gli Azzurri reflects the respect he wields in Italy albeit his exile from Inter Milan.
While this proves a more unlikely move for Chelsea, such a signing would undoubtedly add experience to the side. With results proving hard to come by, Ranocchia may be the man to do the dirty work for the Blues in the centre of defence or as a full-back cover.
The Moroccan’s link to Conte proves considerably more tenuous but Benatia remains a centre-back that Chelsea should be tracking. With his displeasure at Bayern Munich highly publicised, this is an experienced centre-half itching for a move to pastures new.
Conte will no doubt have been aware of Benatia’s quality though during his successful tenure at AS Roma in 2013-14. There could be hope therefore that under the Italian manager, the 29-year-old could experience a resurgence after his shortcomings in Bavaria.
Benatia wins the most aerial battles on average out of the three centre-backs in their respective leagues but this is dampened by the fact Bayern have fielded him just eight times in the Bundesliga.
During his purple patch in the Italian capital though, Benatia scored five goals and ensured Juventus didn’t have it all their way in the league. If Chelsea were to vie for the Moroccan they would be eyeing up a well of experience and a defender with hunger as well as an eye for goal.
Whether Chelsea sign any of the aforementioned centre-backs or not, there can be little doubting cover will be required in light of Terry’s impending exit. The Stamford Bridge side simply cannot go another season shipping goals, a defender is badly needed.
Which centre-back do you think Chelsea should sign this summer? Have YOUR say in the comment box below!