Cesar Azpilicueta marked his 400th Chelsea appearance with defeat to Manchester City, but it was still a remarkable milestone for the club captain.
Since his move from Marseille in 2012, the Spaniard has won six trophies and was rewarded for his tireless commitment in 2019 by taking over the armband from Gary Cahill. That year, he lifted the Europa League trophy as skipper against Arsenal, and was a key figure during Frank Lampard’s first term in charge.
Despite his status at Stamford Bridge, Azpilicueta has taken a back seat following the form of Reece James, with Thiago Silva often stepping in as the senior member of the squad. With Silva’s career slowly coming to a close, and Azpilicueta approaching his 32nd birthday, Lampard should start planning for his next permanent captain.
Having such a young team, it is difficult to find a replacement in terms of age, yet based on ability, one name who springs out is Mason Mount. His mature performances on the field have made him Lampard’s most treasured possession and one that fans adore due to his rise through the youth system. He lives and breathes the Blues, so there cannot be many better candidates.
Kurt Zouma is another possible option, with the Frenchman growing in stature after a strong start to the season. His vocal and physical presence makes him a solid applicant, especially as he has been learning directly from Azpilicueta and Silva in defence.
An outside contender could be N’Golo Kante, who turns 30 in March. Due to his generally silent and polite nature, he would not be the archetypal leader. However, he often directs proceedings through his control of the midfield, therefore championing by example. Kante was even made captain earlier in the campaign for the 2-0 win over Newcastle United.
Whoever Lampard, or any manager, decides to knight as the next Chelsea captain, they have big boots to fill considering the caliber that has come before them.