John Terry has been a stalwart in the heart of Chelsea’s defence for the past 16 years, but his time at the Bridge is gradually coming to an end. A player who has for so many years, been painted as his replacement, is Andreas Christensen.
The Danish international is halfway through his two-year loan spell at Borussia Mönchengladbach. However, it has been rumoured that Mönchengladbach are looking to make the deal permanent in either January or the summer. And the speculation, has caused a divide upon many Chelsea fans, on whether Christensen should be sold.
A quality that makes the 20 year-old one of the best centre-backs in European football, is his versatility. Able to play as a centre-back, right back or defensive midfielder, he is an extremely useful player to have in a squad.
The fact that he can play as a right back or centre-back, also makes him perfect for the right side of a back 3, a formation that Borussia Mönchengladbach have used for the majority of Christensen’s time at the club. 3 at the back, is also a favourite of Chelsea manager Antonio Conte. A formation that served him so well at Juventus and with the Italian national team, and as used in recent weeks against Leicester and Manchester United, signs have swung in the way of Chelsea to permanently operate in the same way.
A young player with huge amounts of potential being farmed out on loan, to then be sold at the end of it, is something that won’t be too dissimilar to Chelsea fans. In fact, it goes to show something that two of the best players in the Premier League, were once in Christensen’s shoes. Both Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne were deemed surplus to requirements at Chelsea. However, both decisions have since proven to be mistakes.
Kevin De Bruyne was sold to Wolfsburg in 2012, after there was simply, no place for him in the Chelsea side at the time. However he is now, under the guidance of Pep Guardiola, becoming not only one of the best midfielders in the Premier League, but in world football.
Romelu Lukaku was sold after Jose Mourinho claimed the striker had lost focus as he would not be the Blues’ first choice striker. But he is now a striker at the top of many European Superpowers’ wish list and was linked with a £70 million return to Stamford Bridge in the summer.
Christensen is however, looking ever so likely to break the trend and secure a first team place after a loan spell. The youngster is starting to develop a name for himself in European football, after standout performances for Monchengladbach in both the Bundesliga and Champions League last season. The Danish international made 39 appearances in all competitions and received the German side’s Player of the Year.
Averaging more interceptions per game than Jerome Boateng last season, Christensen possesses a great ability to read the game. Another key feature of Christensen’s game is one that makes Conte favourite, Leonardo Bonucci, one of the best defenders around. His passing. Always looking to play the ball out from the back instead of just clearing his lines, the 20 year-old achieved a pass completion rate last season of 87%.
Although, it will be no easy task for Christensen to slot straight into Chelsea’s defence once his loan spell at Monchengladbach is up. In fact, he will have to fight off competition from David Luiz, Gary Cahill, Kurt Zouma, Cesar Azpilicueta, Michael Hector and Matt Miazga. And from being one of the first names on the team sheet in Germany, he may cause a bit of a fuss if Conte does not integrate him straight away.
The Premier League has been described as one of the most physical challenging leagues in Europe. And despite being 6ft 2in, Christensen is often outmuscled on the ball and beaten in the air by much smaller players. He must seriously improve his strength and bulk up in order to be able to cope with the physical nature of the English game.
With Barcelona rumoured to be lurking in the distance, Chelsea must grit their teeth and show faith in Christensen. With it looking ever so likely to be John Terry’s final year, it is now up to the 20 year-old to emerge from the shadows and step up to become his successor. Otherwise a few years down the line, Chelsea could be left red in the face with another situation like De Bruyne and Lukaku’s.