Time for Chelsea to move on from Gary Cahill 1

Before launching into what will almost certainly read like a hindsight-assisted hatchet-job, it’s worth noting that Gary Cahill has become a far better centre-half than he was expected to be.

Go back to his days at Aston Villa - or even his first eighteen months at Bolton - and you would have assumed that the competent, middle-of-the-road player would remain at much the same level throughout the rest of his career.

If that’s how you felt - as I did - then you were wrong: Cahill has been a credible performer at the top of the Premier League for the last couple of years and he has deservedly established himself within the England side.

But England are not Chelsea, and the latter are held to a far higher standard than the former should ever be.

Cahill is a problem.  He had a dreadful game in France last night and he was bullied terribly by PS-G’s forward line, but there’s nothing knee-jerk or alarmist about this - his performances across the last eighteen months have been beneath what a side of Chelsea’s calibre should be expecting.

He’s a good player, but he quite obviously has a ceiling and, given the extent of Jose Mourinho’s ambition at Stamford Bridge - not to mention the Portuguese’s prioritisation of defensive reliability - there has to be a point at which he becomes obsolete.

Think of this situation within the context of the next few years: If we assume that Cahill will never progress beyond his current level and that, eventually, John Terry’s body will fail him, Mourinho will soon have to begin constructing his next long-term centre-back pairing.

Kurt Zouma is already at the club and, quite clearly, has a very bright future indeed, so why not begin the first stage of this process now?  The nightmare scenario for Mourinho is that he has to build a new pairing from scratch and bed two new players in simultaneously.

Why put the side in that position?

There are some very good reasons why Zouma’s development should be handled slowly and carefully, but there’s also a credible argument for increasing his exposure to important games, pairing him with Terry whilst that chance still exists, and starting this process sooner rather than later.

There’s a risk attached to that - of course there is - but whilst Gary Cahill is still making errors and costing Chelsea goals, the trade-off is surely relatively minimal.

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