Mauricio Pochettino has a lot of work on his plate at Chelsea this summer.
Making his return to management in English football, Pochettino not only has to try and put together a team to climb back up the Premier League table, but he also has to help cut down a very bloated squad.
One of Chelsea’s biggest problems last season was their almost carelessness with money, throwing it at their problems and hoping new signings would fix things immediately. Add this to the fact that the current Chelsea squad has signings made by a variety of different managers to their own styles and you’ve got a recipe for trouble.
The Blues have already seen a number of their players linked with departures this summer, and some have already gone. But who else could be on the move? We’ve taken a look at 10 possible exits and made our on decision on what should be done.
One of the biggest names linked with leaving Chelsea this summer, Mason Mount is a bit of marmite figure, not only in the Blues fanbase but the wider football public. It seems you either rate him or you don’t, and a lot of people seem to be extreme at either end of the scale. While Chelsea clearly rate him, it is obvious they don’t rate him as much as he rates himself when it comes to wages. According to various reports, talks over a new contract stalled because Mount wanted his wages to be more in line with the new signings rather than only a small increase — having not signed a new deal since breaking into the first team.
At the time of writing, Mount appears to be on his way out of the door, with Manchester United the likely destination (the Red Devils are 1/3 with Sky Bet to sign Mount this summer). Erik ten Hag’s side have tabled a £55m offer for Mount and remain in negotiations with Chelsea.
While Chelsea chase one player from Brighton, the Seagulls are reportedly trying to get Levi Colwill to go the other way — or stay at the Amex after his loan spell. Although Colwill didn’t play too often at Brighton, suffering with the managerial change and then injury, the Englishman largely impressed when he was on the pitch and it appears Roberto De Zerbi wants him in his team for the new season. According to reports, last summer Chelsea were happy to let Colwill go to Brighton permanently as part of the deal that saw Marc Cucurella move to Stamford Bridge, but for whatever reason that only ended up being a loan. It’s a second chance Chelsea should look to make the most of, bringing Colwill into their squad next season with a view to becoming one of their first-choice centre-backs.
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The LeBron James of soccer, Christian Pulisic has had his moments at Chelsea but not really enough to warrant being a regular starter. Some of his fans will claim he hasn’t been given as much of a chance as others in his position, so doesn’t have enough time on the pitch to show what he can do, but that is just another reason why it may be the best moment to part ways — especially with his contract up next summer. Perhaps surprisingly, Pulisic has played almost 150 games for Chelsea, scoring 26 goals and providing 17 assists to average 0.48 goal involvements per 90 minutes across all competitions, but he has now fallen behind the likes of Mykhailo Mudryk and Noni Madueke in the pecking order, both of whom have youth on their side.
Another player who wasn’t actually at Chelsea in 2022/23, Romelu Lukaku’s time at the club has to be up. His return in the summer of 2021 was widely celebrated, with the boyhood Chelsea fan finally set to get a crack at the first team having struggled to break through in his initial spell, going elsewhere and refining his craft.
There was a dream debut too as Lukaku scored against Arsenal at the Emirates, but then the wheels fell off. Poor form, illness and that interview all led to Lukaku become a pariah at Chelsea and the Blues had to cut their losses with a loan move to Inter Milan last summer — just one year on from them spending €100m for the Belgian.
Lukaku definitely got the last laugh, though, doing well in Italy when fit and he even played in the Champions League final. A return to Chelsea doesn’t look likely, but the Blues have got to make sure they get something for him on a permanent deal rather than just another loan away.
Of course, this also means Chelsea need an actual striker, and they are being linked with Victor Osimhen who outscored Lukaku in Serie A last season en route to winning the title with Italy. Chelsea and Inter remain in talks over the latter re-signing him permanently.
Like Mount, Conor Gallagher appears to be a player who splits the Chelsea fanbase, with many looking at him as someone who “just runs around”. His game is a lot more than that but, especially under Graham Potter and Frank Lampard, Gallagher was certainly used more for his stamina and commitment than any other ability. He was often shoehorned into games and formations he had no place starting in, just because they knew he’d give it his all. This has contributed to some fans turning against Gallagher but under a proper manager in Pochettino, Gallagher could definitely be a useful squad member. This will be a see what happens next season before reassessing.
A wizard at Ajax, it just hasn’t worked out for Hakim Ziyech at Chelsea and his Stamford Bridge career can probably be best summed up by one night in February. The Moroccan was set to sign for PSG on loan in the winter transfer window but Chelsea were so zoned in on getting Enzo Fernandez’s move over the line that they forgot about Ziyech and sent the wrong paperwork to the French club, having already ignored their calls. The right version of the paperwork was received four minutes too late and Ziyech remained at Chelsea to be a bit part player under Potter and then Lampard.
According to reports at the time, Ziyech was texting Todd Boehly to try and get the move done, even intent on spending his own money to ensure it does. He’ll be hoping it doesn’t come to that this summer and that any move can go through smoothly. He now appears on the brink of joining Cristiano Ronaldo at Al-Nassr.
Two strikers on this list and though Chelsea do need someone to score their goals, it isn’t Lukaku and it isn’t Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang either. The Gabonese striker was very much a man signed for Thomas Tuchel, reunited after their time together at Borussia Dortmund, but Aubameyang played 59 minutes under the German and that was it — he was sacked after 1-0 defeat to Dinamo Zagreb on Aubameyang’s debut. While Aubameyang continued to lead the line in the Champions League group stage under Potter, scoring home and away against AC Milan, in the Premier League he was used sparingly and scored just one goal in 15 games, netting on debut for Chelsea against Crystal Palace and then failing to add another. While injury played its part, Aubameyang didn’t really get a fair rub at Chelsea, and the club seemed to make it clear his future isn’t at Stamford Bridge.
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Unfortunately for Chelsea, the club has a history of big money moves that just didn’t work out and it feels as though Marc Cucurella can be added to that list, even after one season. While he thrived at Brighton, Cucurella has underwhelmed since joining Chelsea but had large spells of the season where he couldn’t be dropped because there was no replacement. He was tried at left-back, left wing-back and left centre-back in a back three but just couldn’t find a home, often being caught out defensively. While Chilwell continues to have injury issues, Chelsea do have a ready replacement for Cucurella’s departure — which may come this summer — in Lewis Hall. While Hall’s main position is in the midfield, he’s a utility man and may actually be seen as a left-back at Chelsea when it comes to the first team. He’s performed well pretty much every time he’s been given an opportunity, particularly against the bigger teams, and is definitely the future.
It’s bizarre that someone with as much potential as Carney Chukwuemeka got as little playing time as he did for Chelsea last season, especially towards the end of the campaign when the Blues had nothing to play for and their midfield was on its last legs due to injury. Still only 19, Chukwuemeka is full of promise but might be better on loan in the Premier League next season to get a good run of games under his belt. With Chelsea only in the domestic competitions, he may not get that at Stamford Bridge.
David Datro Fofana
A January arrival, David Datro Fofana played just 113 minutes for Chelsea after signing from Molde, which again can be seen as quite bizarre. Chelsea were struggling for goals and a recognised striker, so what harm could giving Fofana a run up top have done? This season has loan written all over it for Fofana, priming him for a potential breakthrough campaign in 2024/25.