Chelsea’s anxious hunt for a long-term replacement for John Terry may finally be over after young French defender Kurt Zouma’s progression through the ranks at Stamford Bridge came to fruition in the Blues' 3-0 FA Cup win over Watford.
The similarities between the two defenders are hardly scarce and it is only fitting that Zouma announced his presence on the Chelsea scene on Sunday with a goal straight from the Terry textbook.
Loitering in the box following a Chelsea corner Zouma leaned back to latch onto the end of a ball from Cesar Azpilicueta looping the ball into the top corner of Jonathan Bond’s net.
Developed in the cup
The cup competitions proved vital to the development of Terry whose debut came late on in a League Cup tie with Aston Villa in 1998.
From then on the young Englishman went from strength to strength before being named the club captain in 2004 at the tender age of 23.
And Zouma seems to have already followed at least the early part of that development having made a series of commanding displays in the League Cup and FA Cup this season – having only recently turned 20.
With Terry recently turning 34 and his current contract fast approaching an end there have been concerns that, especially after the treatment of Frank Lampard, the former England captain could leave the club without a suitable replacement lined up.
But this author believes that in Zouma they certainly have someone with the potential to be the next Terry.
Having made his first few appearances for the Blues in physically demanding cup ties with Shrewsbury Town and Derby County he has already demonstrated just how dominating he can be defensively.
And games like that are very important for developing character and spirit – something that Terry has in abundance.
So seeing Zouma advancing up the pitch hungry for a third goal on Sunday in a cup tie Chelsea had already secured will go a long way in proving that he has that same level of desire.
Of course, he’s yet to face a lot of the most potent strikers in the world as even his Champions League appearances have been mostly limited to showings against Group G whipping boys NK Maribor.
But do remember that when Terry had just turned 20 he was on loan at Nottingham Forest and was yet to make it anywhere near European football.
With a little help from friends
Zouma’s centre-back partner Gary Cahill seems to share this author’s expectations for the young Frenchman after he praised him earlier on in the season.
“He is a big guy, powerful, good in the air, a fantastic talent for one so young,” he said.
“Every time he has been asked to play he has done really well and he gives the manager another option. You never feel at this club that the shirt is your own.”
Whether he’ll be awarded the captain’s armband in three year’s time is perhaps another issue – especially with Cahill and Branislav Ivanovic still around for the foreseeable future.
But with his physicality and an already developed knack for Terry-esque goals, Chelsea fans may not have to be quite so worried if their club captain opts for pastures new in the summer – as long as it’s not Manchester City!