Continuing our look at who could become John Terry's replacement at Chelsea, we review two centre-backs who would bring an exciting and youthful look to the Blues backline. While the two may not be at the top of Antonio Conte's list, they certainly would fit the bill of a player who is young enough to build a legacy.
John Stones is an undoubtedly talented player, with both Chelsea and Manchester City courting him recently. For one so young, there is a huge amount of pressure on his shoulders with many seeing him as one of the most promising young defenders in the world.
The 22-year-old has nearly 100 appearances to his name for Everton already and has attracted admirers from around the world. A tall, elegant and intelligent defender, Stones is now primarily used as a centre-back but was initially a right-back. He also arguably possesses the technical ability to sit in front of the defence as a deep-lying midfielder, thus adding to his value due to his versatility.
Everton's John Stones
Stones has had difficulties recently with many questioning his temperament, as his talent is often soured by lapses in concentration. The centre-back has been guilty of trying to do too much outside his own box before losing the ball, and is sometimes too cavalier with his passing, thus putting his side back under pressure.
While Stones is far from the finished article, he is a hugely promising talent. That is why Manchester City and Chelsea have both been reportedly interested in his services. However, a player that still has so much to learn might not be the ideal candidate for Chelsea, especially with a player that seems so erratic at times. If Chelsea are willing to take a chance with a centre-back for the future though, then perhaps Stones is their man.
Varane is one of the most sought-after and talented defenders in the world today. The Frenchman, at only 23-years-old, has already amassed almost 100 appearances for Real Madrid and looks a very competent defender. It perhaps speaks volumes that Varane has so many games under his belt even though he is fighting for his place with Sergio Ramos and Pepe, two high-quality and established defenders.
Varane is another defender blessed with pace and power, equally adept tracking back and dispossessing quick strikers as he is putting in robust challenges, Varane is a top-class centre-back. He too is talented with the ball at his feet but, unlike Stones, he does not tend to be as blasé with the ball. Where Stones might seek to keep possession even when under huge pressure, Varane seems slightly more intelligent in those situations, clearing his own lines when necessary.
The problem with Varane is that Real Madrid are unlikely to sell a player that could become one of the world’s best defenders. With the guidance and experience of Ramos and Pepe, it is likely that Varane will continue to improve. A huge transfer fee may convince Real to sell him, however, it seems unlikely they will go down this route, especially with Ramos and Pepe aged 30 and 33 respectively, with the two creeping up on the twilight of their careers.
Varane, at this moment in time, is by far the more complete defender of the two looked at here. He has had more experience at the highest level, playing for both Real Madrid in the Champions League and for France. He is also a far safer option with Stones often seeming like there was always the chance of an error. Stones is a raw talent that needs a lot of work. While Conte has been able to work with some of the finest defenders during his time with Italy, he may not want to start from the beginning with the Englishman.
Therefore, of the two, Varane is the more attractive option with regard to experience. However, Real Madrid will almost certainly not sell him, with the French centre-back one half of the future at the back for Real.