Antonio Conte has named Gary Cahill as the right man to become the new permanent Chelsea captain following John Terry’s departure.
Cahill, 31, wore the armband for much of last season due to John Terry being restricted to a place on the bench for much of Chelsea’s title-winning campaign, and Antonio Conte has now revealed that the Englishman will be the man to take over from Terry on a full-time basis.
The centre-back has won everything there is to win at Chelsea since arriving at Stamford Bridge from Bolton in 2012, leading Conte to believe he has the experience and characteristics to be a strong captain for the Blues.
As quoted by The London Evening Standard, Conte said:
“I think that it’s right to continue with Cahill, if he plays, it’s right he’s the captain. Why? Because he stayed in Chelsea for many years and played a lot of games and showed good characteristics to be this.”
However, Conte also made it clear that he will be look for leadership qualities from far more than one player, insisting that many of the rest of the team must also act like captains to make up for the numerous senior players Chelsea have lost in recent years.
“I think also we can have other captains in our team, it could be Azpilicueta, Luiz, and also, in the future, it could be Thibaut Courtois, Cesc Fabregas.”
“I think every single player must improve in this and take more responsibility because we lost big players and we need now to find these new players to create this fundamental for Chelsea. It is very important for our future success to create this base.”
Conte’s comments suggest, as many had expected, that Azpilicueta and Luiz will also be considered as captains in the near future. Cahill proved to be a fantastic leader last season and appeared to thrive as captain by putting in several top-quality performances to help guide the Blues to a fifth Premier League title, however the manager’s comments hint that every position is up for grabs including the captaincy should Cahill fall out of the starting eleven.
There is certainly some competition for the three centre-back places Conte’s favoured formations allow for, with new signing Antonio Rüdiger joining Andreas Christensen in pushing Cahill, Luiz and Azpilicueta hard for their starting spots. Conte opted for his usual back three in his first pre-season team selection on Saturday, though it remains to be seen whether or not he will be giving opportunities to others in the games against Bayern and Inter in Singapore this week.