Is Levi Colwill The Centre-Back England Have Been Waiting For?

Chelsea's Colwill starred in England's u21 success
11:27, 10 Jul 2023

England’s Under-21 European Championship victory on Saturday night was nothing short of superb. Goalkeeper James Trafford stole the headlines with his late penalty save, as well as the fact he kept six clean sheets on his way to glory. Newcastle United’s Anthony Gordon won Player of the Tournament for his attacking displays but many feel it was Levi Colwill who deserved that prize for his sensational performances throughout the competition. 

The Chelsea centre-back is just 20 years old yet, being left-footed and so comfortable on the ball, he is a precious commodity in elite football. He’s already had a taste of the England squad, as Gareth Southgate invited him to train with his side before the two summer qualifiers, but now is the time for him to become a permanent member of the England manager's plans. 

He could even start at Euro 2024. 


For all of England’s success, and the fantastic work Southgate has done over the past three tournaments, the centre-back position has never been the strongest in terms of depth. His loyalty to Harry Maguire, England’s current left centre-back, has paid off. The Manchester United man hasn’t put a foot wrong for his country and remains a good option given his relationship with John Stones is so strong. 

But his lack of club football has been a constant sticking point over the past 18 months. How can England rely on a player who isn’t playing for his club every week, and shows little to no form when he is in the team? He has the maturity and mental fortitude to contribute to the Three Lions whenever he is called upon, but at 30, Southgate must plan to introduce his eventual successor. 

He’s been looking around for potential options for some time. Tyrone Mings, when in form at Aston Villa, was a good replacement and showed his worth to the squad when he started the first two games of Euro 2020. Under Unai Emery, his form returned and he was back in the squad for the most recent qualifiers this summer but being another 30-year-old he isn't a long-term replacement for the more experienced Maguire. 


Marc Guehi at 22 has regularly featured in the England squad, and Southgate likes to use him whenever possible. He’s been the go-to man whenever Stones or Maguire have not been available across the last 12 months and playing regularly for Crystal Palace has helped the former Chelsea man progress rapidly. He’s right-footed, but prefers to play on the left hand side of the centre-back pairing for club and country, which is a bonus for the England manager.

However, his ceiling is not as high as Colwill’s. All the Chelsea man needs now to assert himself as one of the Premier League’s best is to play regular football in the top flight. We saw how he elevated Brighton’s back line last term and now it appears that his new club boss Mauricio Pochettino is going to trust him as a starter for the upcoming campaign.

There’s reported interest from Liverpool in securing his signing but Chelsea have rebuffed that so far. Still, if the Blues can’t guarantee him regular football then he has to leave. After the success of this summer, he must build on that momentum to force himself into Southgate’s plans. 

His composure is unmatched and his quality on the ball will be a real benefit to club and country. This good form and high ceiling, combined with Maguire’s lack of football if he stays at Manchester United, could result in John Stones having a brand-new centre-back partner at Euro 2024. 

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