Chelsea’s future off the pitch has become a little clearer as American Todd Boehly closes in on his takeover of the club from Roman Abramovich.
On the pitch the Blues have failed to mount a title charge with the FA Cup their only chance of silverware remaining this season.
Thomas Tuchel has had to work despite the sanctions placed upon the west London outfit. Those sanctions have prevented the club from engaging in contract talks with their players.
As a result Antonio Rudiger will leave in the summer on a free. The German has been among the best centre-halves in the Premier League, playing a key role in Chelsea’s Champions League success last term. Rudiger was seeking a major pay packet as he entered into talks with the club before they were prevented from taking them any further.
It leaves the squad light at the heart of defence and replacing a player of Rudiger’s calibre will come at quite a cost. The Blues could also be waving goodbye to a host of other players with several members of their squad facing uncertain futures
The Spaniard made a world-record move to Stamford Bridge in 2018 but immediately it was clear that there were question marks.
So much so that the club sought a replacement two years later and bought in Edouard Mendy, who has retained the No 1 spot. Kepa has been used in the cup competitions but the club are, according to ESPN, keen to offload him whilst recouping as much of his £71.4m fee as possible.
The Dane’s situation is identical to Rudiger’s, meaning he will be leaving the club in the coming months.
Barcelona have been linked with Christensen, who has begun to establish himself in the starting XI. His imminent departure leaves more holes in the Chelsea backline.
Jorginho has commanded Chelsea’s midfield since arriving from Napoli, excelling following Maurizio Sarri’s departure. However the Italian, who was tipped for the Ballon d’Or last year, is out of contract in 2023 leaving the Blues with a decision to make over the next 12 months.
Tuchel said on the situation: “It would be nice if we can avoid [more players running down deals] but at the moment it’s difficult [because of the sanctions]. But [tying down Jorginho and Kante] should be the target for all of us.” Jorginho turns 31 in December, the same age Kante is now.
Thus far it is hard to say the summer move has worked.
Chelsea were in the market for a striker and, as they have done in the past, went after a player previously on their books. Lukaku has copped public criticism from Tuchel, who has often left the Belgian out of the starting XI.
A victim of the amount of attacking talent in the Chelsea squad, the former Borussia Dortmund man was signed for a hefty fee and has often impressed when given an opportunity – it is just that those opportunities haven’t been regular enough.
The American though insists he is relaxed on his future.
A deadline day loan signing from Atletico Madrid, it quickly became apparent on his first outing that Saul may struggle to adapt.
Despite his lofty reputation, he’s been used sporadically at best and is set to return to Spain in the summer once his current deal expires.
Last year he was loaned out to Aston Villa such was his lack of minutes. That was under Frank Lampard, now with Tuchel at the helm Barkley has been used more, but he still finds himself someway down the pecking order.
It seems as if both parties may benefit from a parting of ways.
For so long the winger’s future has been in the headlines.
Bayern Munich made big moves to sign the him back when he was a teenager and have lodged several bids. He’s been used as a wing-back by Tuchel and is still yet to realise his potential with a contract in west London until 2024.
Lukaku was signed in the summer after the German struggled to adapt following a move from RB Leipzig. Werner has been able to have an impact but question marks still hang over the 26-year-old and, before the sanctions, Chelsea were open to his departure.
The Spaniard’s contract was due to expire in the summer but a clause was triggered that will keep him in west London.
Barcelona had been keen on recruiting Azpilicueta and may still try to tempt him back to his homeland, although the departures from the Chelsea defence will surely impact their decision.