Chelsea manager Antonio Conte is considering Middlesbrough’s Ben Gibson and Burnley’s Michael Keane as options to replace John Terry at the heart of the club’s defence when he leaves Stamford Bridge, according to the Mail.
Terry is likely to leave the club at the end of the season as he’s coming towards the end of both his current contract and professional career, and Conte wants to retain an English influence in the back line. Not only does the Italian want to keep a homegrown feel to his squad – he’ll also need to stock up on British talent to meet UEFA quotas for European competition.
Both Keane and Gibson have been discussed as the club’s scouting network work intensively to find British defensive options, with both players on the cusp of an England call up if their excellent form continues for the newly promoted teams.
Keane is a former Manchester United youth player and was the subject of a series of offers from Premier League champions Leicester City in the summer – though Burnley stood firm and decided not to sell. Meanwhile, Gibson, 23, has also impressed this term and throughout Boro’s promotion campaign from the Championship last season.
The Blues spent big on bringing David Luiz back to Stamford Bridge on transfer deadline day to ensure they brought in a new centre half for the coming campaign, but the club don’t believe that Luiz is the long-term solution given he’s pushing 30 himself.
Both players have been given rave reviews by the club’s scouts and one of them at least could be lined up by Chelsea in a future transfer window, likely at the end of the current season, to play alongside Luiz.