To many Chelsea fans, we consider Cech, Lampard, Terry and Ashley Cole as the main parts of the Old Guard. Drogba was also considered to be in on the group, but he is no longer a Chelsea player. Their time to leave is slowly edging closer, some faster than others. With them aging and contracts winding down, we should have fit replacements for each. I’ll suggest a few names for each player and what they can bring to the squad – some are already in the squad, some require a move.
Thibaut Courtois. That’s the first choice replacement for many Chelsea fans. Thibaut is 21 years of age and is currently on loan at Atletico Madrid from Chelsea. He’s been a key component in Atl. Madrid’s great season as they sit 2nd place above rivals Real Madrid and below league leaders Barcelona. Statistically, Courtois is having a better season than Petr Cech is, and while some would argue the strength of the leagues – you have to recognize the age difference as well. Thibaut at age 21 is doing much better than Cech was at that age. Now, I’m not saying Courtois is a better goalkeeper than Cech, don’t get me wrong… I’m just saying he’s playing better compared to Cech. Petr Cech has been a unbelievably crucial player for us in the past years and especially these past two seasons. The most logical replacement for me is Courtois. Thibaut’s backups can certainly include Jamal Blackman and Matej Delac, but I don’t want to get into them.
John Terry – Captain, Leader, Legend says the banner and the banner says it all. Captain Fantastic for many fans, JT has been one of the best defenders to ever graze the club and for me, the world. One of the best defenders according to legend Ronaldinho, as well. Nonetheless, Terry has been the key player in our defense as he leads the back 4 and commands it. He has some of the best leadership skills currently and holds massive player power (as seen in Rafa bust-up). For me, the best replacement is Gary Cahill. Cahill reminds me a lot of JT, he has great heading ability, can command the back 4 really well and looks like a real leader when in defense. Cahill is our best defender after John Terry, for me. He has all the qualities needed to replace Terry. Another option is David Luiz, but I’d rather him in the double pivot as he is less clumsy and is more comfortable there. A few youngsters available are Jeffrey Bruma, Nathaniel Chalobah, Tomas Kalas and Kenneth Omerou. All 4 of them are on loan and playing real well. Omerou was instrumental in Nigeria’s AFCON 2013 winning campaign and Chalobah has been very good for Watford (managed by ZOLA) as they push towards promotion. Bruma/Kalas have also received good ratings. If we’re looking to spend money, I would be looking at Mats Hummels and Benedikt Howedes – they both play in the German Bundesliga and are key defenders in their teams Borussia Dortmund (Hummels) and Howedes (Schalke).
Some would call him England’s best left-back and some would go as far as the world’s best left-back. For me, Cole is England’s second best left-back with Baines being first. Cole just simply as worn off, he’s not what he used to be and his been very inconsistent as of late. He’s still the best left back we’ve seen in years, but he’s no longer what he used to be. Nonetheless, Ashley Cole has just recently signed a new deal (1 year extension) that will keep him at Chelsea for another year and as we’ve seen Ryan Bertrand is not yet ready to replace Cole. Bertrand and Van Aanholt are my preferred youth options (Tomas Kalas can be a LB, at times). As they both gain a bit of experience, being a more experienced left-back could be the better option as we simply can’t afford to have a weak-link at left-back (as seen v Shakhtar and Steaua). The money options would be Leighton Baines and Luke Shaw. Baines is England’s best left-back as he is very consistent and can do it all – corners, free kicks, etc. Luke Shaw is home grown (something not seen as much), plays quite often for Southampton and is a Chelsea fan according to his official twitter account. Shaw has been very impressive at Southampton and he certainly looks like the next big thing at left back for England. I wouldn’t mind signing him or Baines, but the long-term solution would be Shaw.
A legend in just about every Chelsea fan’s book, Frank Lampard has been a crucial member for Chelsea, but his contract runs out in the summer and talks don’t seem to be progressing at all. I’ve been calling for Lampard’s exit since 2010/11 and I certainly would like him gone this summer as I feel he has little to offer Chelsea and we’ve become too dependent on him and that’s a major problem. We must let go of him sometime and as he continues to flutter at holding midfield, his exit looks more and more certain. Nonetheless, let’s get to the options – holding midfield and attacking midfield. Those are the positions Lampard has played for Chelsea (mostly AM, but recently DM). At holding midfield, Lampard is useless IMO. He is wired too offensively and doesn’t defend as well as he should. Our options there are – Romeu, Ake, Luiz, Mikel, etc. If we’re looking to buy someone in that position, I would suggest Casemiro, Rafael Carioca and Miralem Pjanic. At attacking midfield, Lampard shined. He was one of the best in the world and certainly, the options there are already set up. We have Juan Mata, Oscar, Ramires, Eden Hazard, Marko Marin and Kevin De Bruyne who can all play the attacking midfield role so spending money on a replacement would be stupid.
Those are my suggestions/options for the Old Guard replacements.