It promises to be a massive summer at Chelsea in terms of player and manager upheaval.
It’s looking ever more likely that this will be manager Antonio Conte’s last season at Stamford Bridge, and the prospect of missing out on the Champions League places came into sharper focus with Sunday’s 3-1 home defeat to Tottenham.
A parting of the ways between Conte and Chelsea appears inevitable and according to the Telegraph, as many as nine first team players could be following the manager through the exit door.
The list in question is a mix of players who are surplus to requirements at the club, but also others who they would rather keep – and some who are entering the final year of their contract.
Top of the list, and the two Chelsea should be most worried about, are Belgian duo Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois. With the Blues staring down the barrel of the Europa League, the star pair could look to leave in order to join a Champions League team. Both have been fairly coy when discussing their futures in the past, and with Real Madrid reportedly interested, keeping them in West London – particularly if they have a strong World Cup – would be a very tall order.
Defenders Gary Cahill, David Luiz and Kurt Zouma could all be moved on. The former two only have one year remaining on their current contracts, and neither are guaranteed starters right now, while the latter has spent the season on loan at Stoke City.
Sticking with players also nearing the end of their deals, that also applies to Spanish internationals Cesc Fabregas and Pedro, and January signing Olivier Giroud. As it is, Chelsea would probably like to keep all three at the club but will also be mindful of not allowing them to leave for nothing in summer 2019.
Finally, what of Michy Batshuayi? The Belgian international barely got a look in under Conte in 18 months in the Premier League, but has been in terrific form for Borussia Dortmund since joining the Bundesliga club on loan in January. The new Chelsea manager may want to keep him around when he comes back in the summer, but Batshuayi himself may prefer to be a the main man somewhere else rather than being Alvaro Morata’s understudy.
All in all, it’s going to be a very busy summer for Chelsea.