It’s been a happy week for Chelsea and England stalwart Gary Cahill, who is expected to sign a new four-year deal with his club imminently, after being named his nation’s vice-captain.
But as he enters the period of his career widely acknowledge as an outfield player’s peak, there’s cause to ponder what lies on the horizon for the Aston Villa product.
In recent years Cahil has emerged as key part of the Stamford Bridge furniture, present as his club snared consecutive European trophies.
Latterly he has emerged as Chelsea’s first choice central-defensive partner to John Terry, fighting off the concerted challenge of David Luiz, who, for all his faults, was still considered worthy of a £50m-plus transfer fee by Paris Saint-Germain.
In 2013/14 he and Terry struck up a sufficiently harmonious relationship at the heart of the Blues’ rearguard to earn the title of the Premier League’s most miserly defence by a ten-goal margin.
Yet when it comes to his on-pitch contribution in terms of tackles, interceptions, clearances and on-the-ball responsibility, Cahill is still the junior partner in the middle of Chelsea backline.
The long-standing Blues skipper has dispossessed 2.3 opponents on average per game in the top flight this season, to his apprentice’s 1.7.
When it comes to cutting out enemy passes, it’s once again the former England captain who has shouldered the greater responsibility, with a mean 1.3 interceptions an outing that’s near double Cahill’s 0.7.
And clearances too it seems are more Terry’s preserve, with nine averaged per game to the younger man’s 8.3.
This might suggest the veteran handles the dirty work while Cahill does the cultured stuff, like actually playing the ball, but in truth the pair have issued forth precisely the same amount of passes (141) so far this term, with the 33-year-old boasting slightly better completion percentages.
It begs the question, should the younger man not have grown into a player who has the quality to boss the Blues rearguard by now?