The summer of 2015. Chelsea had just finished 1st in the Barclays Premier League and had arguably the best manager in England in charge. It was the question on everyone’s tongue; what world class players were The Blues going to sign in order to stay at the top of the tree?
One player that looked destined to be making his way to West London was 21 year-old John Stones. It got to the point where it seemed to no longer be a question of if, but a question of how much.
However three bids later, that were rumoured to reach a figure in excess of £30 million, Stones was still an Everton player. The end of the transfer window came and Chelsea had failed to strengthen.
This year though, things seem to be a little different. After a torrid season, that has seen the sacking of Jose Mourinho and The Blues finishing mid-table, no one really knows what to expect.
Antonio Conte will take charge, as of the exit of Italy at Euro 2016. But he must make significant improvements if he wishes to have a successful year next season.
A key area longing for an upgrade is defence. Chelsea conceded 53 goals in the league this year, 21 more than in the previous campaign.
Kurt Zouma missed most of the season due to a knee injury, but he is a player that is tipped to be a key starter for The Blues for many seasons to come.
John Terry, the club-captain, has recently been offered a one-year contract extension and looks set to carry on his legacy at Stamford Bridge.
One player, that’s future is not so clear, is Gary Cahill. The England international has struggled to hit the ground running in the past two seasons and the 30 year-old’s time seems to be up at SW6.
However in wake of the poor form displayed by The Blues, it has not been the season John Stones would’ve hoped for either. His Everton side finished the season in 11th place, and their manager Roberto Martinez has recently been relieved of his role. On a personal note, Stones too has received a lot of criticism directed at his playing style.
Many fans and pundits alike have become disgruntled at the fact he takes one too many risks. And with every risk you take, there is an ever so likely probability of a mistake.
These mistakes have included nail biting back-passes and the 21 year-old showing huge faith in his own ability to turn his way out of danger.
Along with the mistakes, their is the underlying prospect of a tremendous price-tag. It has been rumoured that The Toffees will not listen to offers under a fee of £45 million. That is why Conte may be looking at cheaper, already proven centre-backs.
However Stones is a player that is still very young and has an awful lot to learn. If he is shown the trust, he will blemish into a world-class player, and Chelsea in the future may boast a formidable defence pairing of Kurt Zouma and John Stones.