Chelsea have a busy summer coming up – some of their star players are expected to depart west London this summer, here’s a look at who
Chelsea are yet another English side suffering from the “second-season syndrome” in 2018.
Having lifted the Premier League trophy under newly-appointed manager Antonio Conte during the 2016/17 campaign, the Blues are set to battle it out with rivals for a UEFA Champions League spot this term.
What Stamford Bridge has witnessed so far this season can genuinely be described as inconsistent and equally frustrating, to say the least. They’ve lost the spark with which they were tearing teams apart last season and under Conte’s guidance, the team have seemingly fallen apart despite their prior success.
The players have been the subject of criticism recently too, which is justified. Having been humiliated by sides including Bournemouth and Watford, who beat the reigning champions with a three-goal margin apiece, it’s fair to say that they have been under an increasing amount of scrutiny for their collective performances.
One could easily sense the squad’s impending revamp, which may take place later on this year after this current campaign is complete. Having said that, here we take a look at five players who could potentially depart the club during the summer months.
#5 Gary Cahill
Chelsea’s backline last season appeared to be solid and equally robust, with Gary Cahill playing at the heart of it. Since the start of this term though, the centre-back’s weaknesses have been exposed with an increasing level of regularity.
No longer does the 32-year-old have the pace to contend with the blistering young wingers across the league. Despite making 20 league appearances under Conte in 2017/18, there are calls by many for the Italian to drop his captain – whose level of consistency remains a concern.
His current contract is set to expire during the summer of 2019, meaning he has just over a year left on his existing deal with the west Londoners. However, it’s increasingly unlikely that he’d be offered a renewal especially as the Blues have defensive prospects coming through the senior ranks – so it’s not hard to see why they’d be content letting him leave for a transfer fee in a couple of months instead of agreeing terms on a pre-contract.
#4 David Luiz
Until this season, there was never an issue between Chelsea and David Luiz. The Brazilian centre-back was reportedly involved in an argument with Conte following their 3-0 away defeat by Serie A side AS Roma in the Champions League group stages in October.
Since then, the 30-year-old has barely featured under the Italian and was heavily linked with a potential move away from the club during the January transfer window.
Following the end of this season, he’ll enter the final year of his contract just like Cahill and given just how he’s fallen out with the boss, it’s unlikely that he’ll remain in west London beyond the current campaign.
He regularly attracts interest due to his versatility and at 30, he’s reaching the peak years of his career so would want to move if first-team football is guaranteed elsewhere.
#3 Cesc Fabregas
Widely considered to be one of the finest Spanish midfielders of his generation, it’s fair to say that Cesc Fabregas has failed to light up Stamford Bridge this season.
Having been deployed alongside N’Golo Kanté in a deep-lying midfield role, it’s clear to see that he prefers to play further forward in the number ten role – mainly as he’s not mobile enough to patrol midfield in such a deep position of the park.
In his 24 league appearances this term, he’s created four assists and a total of 56 goalscoring opportunities too. Cesc will turn 31 at the start of May and just like the aforementioned duo, will also enter the final year of his existing deal with the Blues too.
Long admired by Jose Mourinho, it’s plausible to suggest that Manchester United may be interested in making a formal approach for the former Arsenal man in future. However, Cesc appears happy at Chelsea and will be keen to prove he can continue to provide quality for longer, making their decision to keep or sell him a more difficult one depending on whether they have a long-term midfield acquisition lined up.
#2 Thibaut Courtois
Had David de Gea not been in the picture, Chelsea’s first-choice goalkeeper would have been the league’s best by a long margin. Since his return to London from a successful loan spell with Atlético Madrid, he has certainly lived up to expectations and delivered well for his team-mates when they’ve needed him most.
The 25-year-old has earned 46 clean sheets for the Blues in the league. However this term, he has often found himself disappointed by his backline. Standing behind a nervy, inconsistent defence at times this term, he’s still managed to keep 13 clean sheets – a statistic which is only bettered by de Gea.
Recently though, reports have emerged linking him with a move to the Santiago Bernabeu in the summer, as Los Blancos continue their search for a long-term Keylor Navas replacement.
Reportedly a fallback option if they fail to sign de Gea, Courtois is believed to be desperate to push for a move back to his homeland – where the majority of his family are currently residing.
He’s got a big decision to make, whether he accepts Chelsea’s latest contract offer – £200,000-a-week – or pushes hard for a return to La Liga with the Champions League winners sniffing around.
#1 Eden Hazard
The name of Eden Hazard on this list is more of an obligation than a conjecture. The Belgian is one of the Premier League’s finest players and thereby, rightly linked with a move to Spain – something which is becoming the norm these days.
The 27-year-old winger has been Chelsea’s best and most influential player over the past few seasons. Every summer, reports suggest Real admire him as a possible replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo, who himself at 33 is no spring chicken despite his world-class ability.
However, this summer could finally be the one where a lucrative move is finalised given Ronaldo’s struggles at the top level in recent months. Sure, he’s flourished in terms of goals in the Champions League – but that’s precisely it, and British news outlet the Express believe the La Liga giants have already sealed a move in principle for Hazard.
With 15 goals and a further ten assists across all competitions this term, Hazard has continued his development and silenced critics who’ve questioned his consistency levels along the way. Chelsea value him very highly, rightly so, and it’s unlikely they’ll let him leave unless they’re offered a transfer fee they cannot refuse – one which may break records to help soften the blow of losing their star man.