A number of Premier League teams will start the 2023/24 campaign under new leadership, with several former captains having departing for new clubs and challenges.
Manchester United and Liverpool are among the clubs to have confirmed new captains, while Chelsea and Manchester City are among those still deliberating over who next wears the armband.
With so many sides undergoing captaincy changes, we’ve looked at each Premier League team with new captains this season.
Van Dijk, Fernandes and the Premier League teams set for new captains this season.
Cesar Azpilicueta has waved a tearful goodbye to Chelsea, with the long-serving Spaniard departing for Atletico Madrid after more than a decade at Stamford Bridge.
The right-back has been a fine leader for Chelsea since inheriting the armband from Gary Cahill and Chelsea will want their next choice to demand similar standards. Thiago Silva appears the obvious option for Chelsea, with the evergreen Brazilian boasting a wealth of experience.
One of the best centre-backs of his generation, the defender’s discipline and professionalism have allowed Silva to continue competing at the highest level into his late thirties and he is perhaps the perfect example for Mauricio Pochettino’s inexperienced squad to follow.
Silva will turn 39 in September and would represent a short-term option, though could oversee an easy transition to whoever is appointed vice-captan. Reece James appears a natural fit for that role as the face of Chelsea’s Cobham production line.
Luka Milivojevic has departed Crystal Palace after falling down the pecking order at Selhurst Park, with the Serbia international making just five starts in the Premier League last season.
Milivojevic’s absence from the side saw Marc Guehi captain the club for much of the campaign and the centre-back is favourite to succeed Milivojevic on a permanent basis.
Guehi has gone from strength to strength since swapping Chelsea for a regular role at Palace, with his form having seen the 23-year-old break into the England set-up. The captaincy could persuade Guehi to commit to Palace’s project for the long-term, amid interest in the defender from higher up the division.
Liverpool – Virgil van Dijk
Jordan Henderson has brought an end to his long career at Liverpool, signing for Saudi Pro League side Al-Ettifaq after 12 successful seasons at Anfield. The lucrative offer from the Middle East has seen the 33-year-old depart and with vice-captain James Milner also leaving, Liverpool have named new names for both captaincy roles.
Virgil van Dijk has been named as Liverpool’s captain for the upcoming campaign, having worn the armband on occasion previously. The Dutch defender had been part of a first-team leadership group at Liverpool that contained Alisson, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson alongside Henderson and Milner last season.
A new chapter begins with the armband 👊 pic.twitter.com/mvfED7B1eE
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) July 31, 2023
Mohamed Salah has since been promoted into that leadership group, while it is Alexander-Arnold who takes the vice-captaincy. The boyhood Liverpool fan has become a central figure for the side since rising from the academy ranks and will deputise in Van Dijk’s absence this season.
Jurgen Klopp’s primary focus will be on ensuring standards do not slip, given the role Henderson and Milner had on the club’s dressing room culture.
Ilkay Gundogan has decided on a new challenge after captaining Manchester City to treble success last season, signing for Barcelona on a free transfer after his contract at the Etihad expired.
Gundogan was somewhat of a surprise selection when taking the armband from Fernandinho last season, but could hardly have wished for a better campaign as captain of Pep Guardiola’s side.
Kevin De Bruyne is the most senior option at Manchester City and has past experience of captaining the side, but Ruben Dias and Rodri are expected to rival the Belgian when a vote from the squad is cast.
Dias is the most natural leader of the options available and has proven his leadership in supporting roles, with the centre-back a vocal presence ahead of City’s crucial clashes during last season’s run-in. The Portugal international is a captain in the most traditional of manners, a defender willing to put his body on the line and who commands respect with his will-to-win.
Manchester United – Bruno Fernandes
Erik ten Hag informed Harry Maguire that he will not captain Manchester United this season, with the defender taking to social media to open up on his disappointment at the decision.
Ten Hag’s choice should come as no surprise given Maguire’s struggle for form and favour and the centre-back is expected to leave the club after just eight Premier League starts in 2023/24.
Bruno Fernandes wore the armband for the majority of last season and has now been handed the armband on a permanent basis. While the Portugal international can frustrate with occasional petulance, he remains one of the most influential footballers in the Premier League and a player who gives everything to win.
A proud day for me and my family. Thank you all for the messages of support in the last day. Let’s keep the positivity and push for a great season 🙌🏼 pic.twitter.com/kpmnXauls7
— Bruno Fernandes (@B_Fernandes8) July 21, 2023
Fernandes can expect strong support from serial winners Casemiro and Raphael Varane, while homegrown hero Marcus Rashford will also be in the conversation for the vice-captaincy after committing his future to the Red Devils with a long-term deal.
Hugo Lloris has not joined Tottenham on their pre-season tour with the goalkeeper having made clear his desire for a new challenge. Harry Kane is the current vice-captain at Spurs and the obvious successor – if the England captain remains in north London.
Should Kane commit to the new project under Ange Postecoglou, he will be the red-hot favourite to take over as captain. Should the 29-year-old depart for Bayern Munich or elsewhere, Spurs face selecting a new skipper and vice-captain. It appears an open race from the remaining options.
“Again, it’s about me getting to know the group and allowing that to develop,” Postecoglou said on the captaincy at a pre-season press conference. “Some of those things you’re better off letting it grow organically rather than forcing things and having preconceived ideas.
“I just want to see how the group works. And like I say, so far the whole group has been really strong in terms of committing to what we’re going to do, and that’s what you want to see.
“Within that you see individuals who will look to lead. And they all lead in different ways. It’s not always the loudest or the highest profile, it’s sometimes by actions and what I’m looking for is leadership within the whole group.
“Guys that are prepared to take some responsibility for what we’re about to embark on.”
West Ham are another side who will decide on a new captain following Declan Rice’s move to Arsenal, though David Moyes insists a decision is yet to be made.
“It’s only just happened (Rice leaving) a day or so ago, so we’ve got time to think about it,” he said. “It will be decided by myself. I think a captain is hugely important. I have had some great boys who have captained my teams over the years.
“Mark Noble was exceptional for West Ham. Phil Neville was exceptional for Everton for me. Declan was great in the short period here he was captain at West Ham.
“So we will look closely to see what is the right choice and we have got a bit of time before the season starts and [when] we need to make a decision on that.”
Aaron Cresswell was last season’s vice-captain and is the club’s longest-serving player, but the left-back is no longer guaranteed a first-team role. Angelo Ogbonna and Nayef Aguerd are both potential options with each having their merits, though Tomas Soucek could perhaps be the safest choice.
The 28-year-old barely misses a game in the West Ham midfield and has experience of leading as captain of the Czech national team. A likeable character who gives his all, West Ham could do worse than make Soucek skipper.
Conor Coady’s permanent departure and the exits of Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho leave Wolves in need of a new direction, as Julen Lopetegui prepares for his first full season in charge.
Max Kilman has captained the club on occasion and will be in contention, but it is the defender’s central defensive partner who earns our vote. Dawson made a major impact after signing for Wolves from West Ham in January, with the veteran’s uncompromising brand of defending making him a fan favourite at Molineux.
Dawson is the sort of footballer prepared to run through brick walls for the cause, an attitude that can inspire to those around him as Wolves prepare for a new era without several stalwarts of their recent rise.