John Terry, Frank Lampard, Petr Cech. All names you associate closely with Chelsea FC, and the modern Roman Abramovich era.
But who are the next superstars to grace the hallowed turf? Im going to run through a starting eleven at the club, all of whom are in the process of transforming into settled Premier League players.
In this piece, we will look at the future of our backline, both in goal, and our defence.
Goalkeeper – Thibaut Courtois
After coming through the ranks at Belgian side Genk, he was the main catalyst in a team that won the league title, where he kept 14 clean sheets, at the tender age of just 18.
He has already played twice for the Belgian national team, at just 20, and is tipped to become a great between the sticks, signaled no less when Chelsea came in and signed him last season, on a five-year contract.
Goalkeepers are well-known for being in their late twenties when they reach their prime, which is what makes Courtois special. After signing for Chelsea aged just 19, he was given the chance to spend a year on loan at Athletico Madrid, and impressed so much, that loan has been extended for another year, after appearing 37 times for the Spanish team last campaign, including a Europa League run.
He kept four clean sheets in his first six games, and current Chelsea keeper Petr Cech said most Premier League goalkeepers “are not as talented as Thibaut. The 20 year old is hot favourite to take over when Petr hangs up his gloves, although Chelsea fans will be hoping that isn’t for a while either.
Right Back – Tomas Kalas
Kalas is a young right-back that has featured for the Czech Republic at U17, U18, U19, and U21 level, and is still only 19.
Chelsea realized the youngsters potential immediately, and after breaking into the first team at Sigma Olumouc aged just 16, was snapped up for a nefty fee of around £5m. He then went on to make a couple of reserve appearances, before being loaned out to Dutch side Vitesse, where he will also spend next season.
After going Vitesse on loan aged 18, he was straight away handed the number 2 shirt, and completed 29 appearances for the Vitas, as they finished 7th in the league.
The Czech defender can also play centre-back, and after extending his Chelsea contract until 2017, fans should remember the name.
Centre Back – Nathaniel Chabolah
A product of the Chelsea academy, Nathaniel has been at the club since his early teens, and as well as centre-back, he can also offer a comfortable holding role in midfield, such is his composure on the ball.
The 17 year old is currently England and Chelsea captain at youth level, and the 6ft 2 defender has progressed quickly through the ranks, making his U18s debut for the Blues at just 15.
Currently in the U19s set-up for England, he has scored twice in 12 games for them, and due to his towering stature, has developed a great heading ability, making him a threat from set-pieces.
He has had successes with Chelsea in the FA Youth Cup in 2012, as well as England U17 European glory back in 2007.
Former Blue Gianfranco Zola is reportedly close to taking him on loan to Championship side Watford, meaning the youngster is still progressing, and could be ready for action with the Blues within the next few years.
Centre Back – Jeffrey Bruma
Bruma has been with the Blues since aged 15, after transferring from Feyenoord in his birth country of the Netherlands, whom he has already appeared for at international level four times, aged just 20, as well as a host of appearances wih the U19 and U17s.
He has already appeared four times for the Chelsea’s first team too, most notably, partnering John Terry against Aston Villa in January 2011, in an enthralling 3-3 draw.
He had an interesting loan spell at Leicester City, where they failed to win in seven starts he had for them, but was asked to deputise in midfield against Watford, where he scored two fabulous goals with strikes from further than 30 yards.
He has since spent a year at German side Hamburger SV, where he was given the number 5 shirt, and made 22 appearances. He impressed so much that the loan has been extended until the end of the next season.
The Dutchman hopefully has a bright future at the Bridge, although in a recent interview, he stressed “I’m not even thinking about returning to Chelsea. I am feeling very well at HSV. Playing in the reserves at Chelsea again wouldn’t work”
Left Back – Ryan Bertrand
One of the most progressed players in this team, Ryan has already played eight times for the first-team, as well as the famous Champions League final in May, due to various injuries and suspensions.
He is also set to line-up for Great Britain in the Olympics this summer, after being chosen in Stuart Pearce’s 18 man squad.
Signing for Chelsea in 2005, he has been on loan at five League 1 and Championship clubs, and complied over 120 first-team appearances during that time.
He spent the last campaign at Chelsea, signaling he may well be close to challenging for the first-team, and has a great mentor in Ashley Cole, whom he is heavily tipped to replace once Cole relinquishes that spot.
Looking at that, there certainly should not be much worry about the future of the Blues, and that doesn’t include the likes of Sam Hutchinson, Patrick Van Aanholt, and goalkeeper Matej Delac, all of whom are good prospects over the next few years at the Bridge.
Make sure you read tomorrows article, where I will run through the final six players in the team, and tell you who to watch out for to be firing in the goals for Chelsea in the years to come.
By Brad Smith