Roberto Di Matteo claims Chelsea might never be able to replace John Terry.
Former Blues boss Di Matteo has underlined the task facing Chelsea following Terry’s exit at the end of last season.
Club legend Terry was allowed to leave after 22 years and 15 trophies following the expiry of his contract.
Di Matteo played with defender Terry and then managed him during his 20 months in charge as Blues boss.
Chelsea won the league last season with Terry playing a minimal role as he was phased out by Antonio Conte and Cesar Azpilicueta, David Luiz and Gary Cahill formed the champions first choice defence.
But Conte is still in the market for a new Terry-style defensive lynchpin with his former Juventus and Italy stopper, £50m-rated Leonardo Bonucci, his top top target.
Di Matteo said: “Terry has been there 20 years.
“He was a leader in the dressing room, he was the reference point for many players, especially many new players. He represented the true feelings of Chelsea.
“It’s going to take a bit of time for somebody to step in and take that kind of role.
“I’m not sure if ever somebody will be able to do so, but certainly taking on the captaincy role and being that important for the team.”