There’s an awful lot of uncertainty surrounding Chelsea this summer. Roman Abramovich has pulled plans for an expansion to Stamford Bridge, and we are still no closer to finding out who will be in charge when the season starts.
Last season was a disappointing one for the Blues. Having won the Premier League title in 2016/17, there were problems from the beginning, with Antonio Conte falling out with his board on transfers, and the way he dealt with Diego Costa. From that moment on, it seemed the relationship between the board and the manager was in tatters, and there was a constant indication that Conte was not happy at Chelsea.
Whether this had an impact on how the players performed on the pitch is debatable, but it definitely didn’t help. They missed out on Champions League qualification, and were dumped out of the competition in the round of 16 by Barcelona. They did however finish the season by winning the FA Cup, beating Manchester United 1-0 at Wembley in the final.
But despite that success, it was clear that there was something wrong at Stamford Bridge. The relationship between the players and the manager was almost non-existent, and this was made clear by Willian’s Instagram post following the final, on which he covered Conte’s face.
It looks likely that there will be a big change at the club this summer, regardless of who is in charge. The standard of Chelsea’s football was well short of the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool last season, and the quality of the squad as a whole is not to the level of Champions League teams. With the likes of Eden Hazard and N’Golo Kante, they do have some world-class players, but there are some players at Chelsea who are not up to scratch.
Here are five who could end up leaving Stamford Bridge this summer.
#1 Danny Drinkwater
Drinkwater moved to Chelsea in a £40 million move from Leicester City on transfer deadline day last summer. Since then, it hasn’t really worked out for the midfielder, who due to a combination of injuries and form, never established himself in the Chelsea side. He appeared only 12 times in the Premier League, with just five of those coming from the start. He played just 41 minutes of the Blues’ Champions League campaign, and was very much a fringe player.
This was a huge fall in grace for a player who had been so key to Leicester’s success in the previous two seasons. It was hoped that he would rekindle his partnership with N’Golo Kante in centre midfield, but that never came about. When it came to World Cup selection, Drinkwater’s name never came up in conversations, and this may be one of the reasons he wishes to look elsewhere this summer. At 28, he should be hitting his peak, and he needs to be playing regularly, and that seems unlikely at Chelsea.
#2 Davide Zappacosta
The 26-year-old was another one who moved to Chelsea at the end of the transfer window last summer, and never established himself in the first team. He was slightly more successful than Drinkwater, making 22 Premier League appearances, but it always felt like he was filling in for Victor Moses rather than challenging him for the right wing-back spot.
There is no doubting that he is an excellent athlete, and probably gets up and down the right flank better than even Moses, but he just never seems as effective as the Nigerian, who was such a key part of Chelsea’s 2016/17 title-winning side. He isn’t as comfortable on the ball, and he isn’t as strong defensively. He is another one who will want first team football, and it may be that a return to his native Italy is on the cards.
There is no doubting that Willian has been a crucial player for Chelsea in his five years since moving to England from Shakhtar Donetsk. He was one of the first names on the teamsheet for Jose Mourinho, and even though that hasn’t quite continued under Conte, he is still an important member of the side.
He has made 70 Premier League appearances since Conte took over in 2016, but half of them have come from the bench. It is no secret that he and his manager do not see eye-to-eye, and it is possible a lot of that comes as a result of being left out in the FA Cup final. There is interest from Manchester United and his old boss Mourinho, however, it is claimed that Barcelona have already made a move for the Brazilian. Even if there is a new manager at Chelsea, they are going to have to do a lot to persuade Willian to stay.
Kenedy initially joined Chelsea in 2015, but really burst on to the scene in the second half of last season with an impressive loan spell at Newcastle United. He had an impact in his debut season in England under Mourinho and then interim manager Guus Hiddink. He was expected to be a part of the Chelsea squad last season, but was sent home from the club’s pre-season training camp after comments made on social media.
He is another one who has got a lot of work to do if he is to earn a place in this Chelsea team, so may be better off moving elsewhere. There is certainly interest from clubs, and Newcastle will be hoping to finance the move, possibly with the sale of Aleksandar Mitrovic. You get the feeling that Kenedy might not have that work ethic that is needed if he wants to succeed at Chelsea.
#5 Alvaro Morata
Morata was Chelsea’s big money signing last summer, moving to Stamford Bridge in a deal worth around £60 million from Real Madrid. The plan was for Morata to replace his fellow Spaniard Diego Costa, but on the whole, it was a pretty unsuccessful season for the 25-year-old, who ended the campaign with just 11 league goals.
He got off to a good start at Stamford Bridge, but things went downhill from then on, and he ended the season out of the side, with Olivier Giroud preferred up top. Morata never seemed confident in front of goal, and opinion of him took a downturn in January, when he missed three golden opportunities as Chelsea drew 2-2 with Arsenal. It’s clear that the move that the move to England hasn’t worked out for Morata, and there are rumours that he is looking to leave Stamford Bridge, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if Chelsea are prepared to let him go.