Ranking every centre-back to play for Chelsea since John Terry left
Think of Chelsea and centre-backs and the mind inevitably conjures up images of John Terry. Their captain, leader and legend, he was a figurehead for the club in every sense throughout their most decorated era.
Replacing him was never going to be an easy task. Befitting their status as one of England’s most successful clubs, Chelsea have had many top quality centre-backs play at Stamford Bridge since he left in 2017. But, like an ex you can never quite get over, they’re just not John Terry.
Here, we’ve attempted the surprisingly difficult task of ranking Chelsea’s starting centre-backs since his departure from worst to best.
10. Marc Guehi
You may be asking who exactly is Marc Guehi? Let us clear that up for you.
The Ivorian centre back has risen up through the Chelsea ranks and made his club debut in an League Cup match against Grimsby Town in September 2019. Still only 20 years old, Guehi is spending this season on loan at Swansea.
Given the fierce competition, it seems unfair to rank Guehi anywhere other than last here.
9. Thiago Silva
Much was made of the veteran Brazilian’s signing in the summer of 2020, with the arrival of one of this generation’s greatest centre-backs intended to plug the gap in an unusually porous Chelsea backline.
Twenty minutes into his debut at West Bromwich Albion, some Chelsea fans could be forgiven for wishing the club had purchased the kid who sang with Dave at Glastonbury instead.
Still, you have heard of him so placing him above Guehi seems justified. And there’s every chance he’ll eventually prove to be a success in west London.
8. Ethan Ampadu
We have no doubt that Ampadu has the potential to rise up this list in years to come.
However, considering he has only made 12 appearances for the club to date, the Wales international can have no complaints about his placing on this list.
Also, the fact Ampadu has shaved his distinctive hair counts against him – standing out from the crowd should be both saluted and encouraged, especially as Marouane Fellaini is no longer around to tug on his locks.
7. Antonio Rudiger
Purchased for an initial £29million during Antonio Conte’s second-season transfer splurge, Rudiger has failed to live up to expectations.
Indeed, the Germany international has become something of a scapegoat among the Stamford Bridge faithful, especially since Frank Lampard took over in 2019.
He’s contributed 80 appearances and five goals during his spell at Chelsea, but it’s fair to say he isn’t on course to be remembered as one of the club’s greatest ever centre-backs.
6. Fikayo Tomori
The young defender is still in the process of establishing himself at Stamford Bridge, having been given the opportunity to join the first-team squad after Chelsea’s controversial transfer ban.
He’s slipped from first-team contention recently but scored the club’s goal of the season during a 5-2 win at Wolves in September 2019.
Tomori’s goal vs Wolves. 🔥😱 pic.twitter.com/vu9CuRO7RO
— Chelsea FC News (@Chelsea_FL) September 14, 2019
5. Andreas Christensen
Signing for the club in 2012 when Andre Villas-Boas was in charge, it still feels somehow surprising that Christensen has made more than 100 appearances for the club.
Indeed, Christensen played often during Conte’s last season only to fall out of favour with his successor Maurizio Sarri. He then recovered to feature regularly under Lampard, but a strange sense of stasis surrounds his career.
But there is still plenty of time to improve and plenty of raw potential to work with.
4. David Luiz
Where to begin with David Luiz?
The much-maligned and much-caricatured Brazilian is perhaps domestic football’s most divisive footballer, with fans debating his merits with the same passion that once fuelled the Crusades.
With his Sideshow Bob hair and penchant towards hilarious defensive howlers, it is often forgotten that Luiz is an excellent passer of the ball and has valuable leadership qualities.
Therefore, we are going to take the Trevor Brooking option and place him slap bang in the middle of this list.
3. Kurt Zouma
Possessing a disarmingly charming smile usually found in a primary school photograph, Zouma is another player who feels part of the furniture at Stamford Bridge.
Having spent time on loan at Stoke and Everton since Chelsea’s last title win, Zouma returned to Stamford Bridge to play a key role in the 2019-20 season and passed 100 appearances for the club during a 1-1 draw at Brighton in January 2020.
Praised for his aerial presence and recovery abilities, Zouma still has room to develop too.
2. Gary Cahill
It is undeniable that Cahill served Chelsea very, very well.
Having won the Champions League with the club in 2012, Cahill became a fixture in defence and has won every domestic and European honour with the club.
But, after Terry’s departure, Cahill was starting to regress from the peak of his powers and would make only nine appearances in his final season at the club before leaving himself for Crystal Palace.
It is only this that keeps the Englishman from the top spot.
1. Cesar Azpilicueta
Despite a competitive field, there was really only one choice for top spot on this list. Ironically, the recipient isn’t even a centre-back.
Azpilicueta has been at Chelsea for nine seasons now, having joined from Valencia in 2012, and he has won every domestic honour available in that time.
The right-back comes top here because of his versatility and leadership – even now, Chelsea look a better team with him in the side.
You can have all the Russian-billions in the world, but you cannot put a price on those qualities.