It won’t be just the Chelsea players who will be focused on their opponents in their game against Middlesbrough on Sunday. Club scouts will also be at Riverside Stadium to watch and assess one of England’s most promising young defenders
The Blues are currently riding high on a five game winning streak. But manager Antonio Conte is still concerned about the condition of the defence. In this regard, Chelsea have been scouting a number of central defenders in the hope of finding a successor to veteran John Terry.
One of the players they have been keeping track of is 23-year-old Benjamin Gibson. Now Chelsea will have the opportunity of seeing what he can do first hand as they travel to Middlesbrough this weekend. According to the Daily Mail, Blues scouts will be watching Gibson carefully as the two sides face off.
Gibson has been at Middlesbrough since the age of 12 and has notched up over 100 appearances for the club. However most of them have been in the Championship, and this is the young defender’s first season in the top flight.
The signing of Gibson will also help Chelsea deal with the mandatory home grown quota that needs to be part of every Premier League senior squad. The current rules for the homegrown quota state that there can’t be more than 17 foreign players in the squad.
Foreign players are classified as players who have spent three years with an English club at the U21 level. This means that even players who play for other countries come under the homegrown quota, if they have played three years with an English club before turning 21.
Chelsea have six homegrown players in their Premier League senior squad of 22 this season. Out of those six, the only two English internationals are Gary Cahill and John Terry. Asmir Begovic, Victor Moses, Cesc Fabregas and Nathaniel Chalobah also qualify under this rule.
Antonio Conte will also be looking at some back-up for his current back three of Cesar Azpilicueta, Gary Cahill and David Luiz. French center-back Kurt Zouma has just returned from a crippling knee injury, while Serbian Branislav Ivanovic finds himself out of the first team picture.