Antonio Rudiger is gone. Andreas Christensen too. And there will be further departures from Chelsea in the weeks ahead as Thomas Tuchel undertakes a rebuild of his first-team squad in an attempt to close the gap to Man City and Liverpool at the top of the Premier League.
It will not be a simple process; Tuchel has accepted that. Part of the reason why is Chelsea were forced to wait until the takeover by the Todd Boehly-led consortium was completed to make transfer market decisions. Another is, of course, the number of players whose futures are uncertain.
Losing two centre-backs in one window on a free transfer is the result of poor planning. Yet another could depart in Cesar Azpilicueta, who has a two-year contract offer on the table from Barcelona and may ask to leave Stamford Bridge after a decade of service.
There are other question marks over several members of Tuchel’s squad, some of whom have just a year remaining on their respective contracts. It’s for that reason that Chelsea may opt to cash in this summer rather than watch more players walk out the door for nothing.
And with a rebuild to help finance this summer, we have picked out five players from Chelsea’s first-team squad that could be sold to ensure Tuchel has every chance to construct a group that is capable of competing across all competitions while staying loyal to his tactical ideals.
When Kepa joined Chelsea from Athletic Club in the summer of 2018 for £71.6 million, he signed a mammoth seven-year contract worth around £190,000 a week. It was a huge leap of faith on the part of the Blues – and one that hasn’t paid off in the seasons since.
In his second campaign, Kepa’s form deteriorated and in September 2020, Edouard Mendy was signed from Rennes. The Senegal international has since established himself as Chelsea’s number one goalkeeper and Kepa has been forced to play the role of deputy for two seasons.
That is a situation the Spaniard is understood to want to change this summer, with Serie A side Lazio interested in a deal for the 27-year-old. Chelsea certainly won’t get anything close to the fee they paid for Kepa – which remains the most expensive ever for a goalkeeper – but an improved 2021/22 campaign from the Spanish international should mean they aren’t taking as big a financial hit.
After six years at Chelsea – and with just 12 months remaining on his contract – it feels the right time for Alonso to depart. The wing-back has even admitted he would like to return to Spain amid interest from Barcelona, who are also keen on securing a deal for Cesar Azpilicueta.
Speaking to Onda Cero earlier this week, Alonso explained: “I have one more year on my contract. I’ve said on other occasions that I would like to return to Spain, but in the end, it doesn’t depend entirely on me. It’s clear that the desire to one day play in Spain is there.”
Given Alonso will celebrate his 32nd birthday in December, Chelsea are unlikely to receive significant bids for the Spanish international. However, it would be a positive step to shift Alonso’s £150,00 a week salary off the books a year ahead of schedule and free up funds for potential signings.
There are few players in world football who enjoyed a stronger 2021 than Jorginho; it’s why the Italian finished third in that year’s Ballon d’Or voting behind Roberto Lewandowski and Lionel Messi. Yet the midfielder has felt the effects of that since the beginning of 2022.
A few weeks off – which Jorginho has this summer after leaving the Italian national squad early – may prove enough to refresh his body and mind. Whether Chelsea would reap the benefits, however, is another issue with the 30-year-old entering the final 12 months of his contract at Stamford Bridge.
Juventus have long been credited with an interest in Jorginho and the Blues will not want to risk losing him on a free transfer next summer. So if a sizeable offer arrives at Chelsea’s door in the weeks ahead, it may prove the right moment for the club and Jorginho to part ways.
The 2021/22 season was another one of frustration for Pulisic. A positive Covid-19 test and an ankle injury meant he made just one appearance prior to November. Yet after making his return and staying free of injuries for much of the remainder of the campaign, he still clocked his fewest minutes in a season for Chelsea.
“Of course, I want to get more playing time,” Pulisic said last week. “I want to be on the field as much as I can and be at the sharpest I can be and, you know, fit, as well. I think I still got a lot of games in, but that’s always something I’m working at and trying to be, you know, a regular at my club to put myself in the best position to be fit when I come here [on international duty].”
Pulisic has just two years left on his Chelsea deal; it is a point at which a decision has to be made. Either a new contract is offered and reassurance is given over his importance in the squad, or the possibility of a sale is considered.
Juventus and Barcelona have both been linked, but it’s reported interest from Liverpool that may prove more viable given the Reds were interested in the winger prior to his move to Stamford Bridge.
When Chelsea completed the signing of Werner from RB Leipzig for £49.5million, it was hailed as an excellent piece of business. After all, the forward had struck 93 goals in 158 appearances for the Bundesliga side and was a regular for the German national team.
Unfortunately, Werner hasn’t been able to take that form into the English game. After his second campaign at Chelsea, he has netted just 23 goals in 89 matches – and it was that lack of ruthlessness that led to the Blues going out and spending £97.5million on Romelu Lukaku, a deal that also hasn’t worked out.
Lukaku may depart Chelsea this summer and the Belgian’s preference is to return to Inter Milan on loan. Werner’s future is less clear but the Blues are believed to be open to a departure for the 26-year-old if the right offer is made. There has been previous interest from Bundesliga sides.