Chelsea: Five headed for exit; ex-winger could return; bid for midfielder
After a run of disappointing results in recent weeks, The Times claim that Antonio Conte has met with owner Roman Abramovich every day this week as the two discuss plans to overhaul the squad with as many as five key first team players set to be discarded by Conte to make room and generate funds to sign players to fit his preferred 3-5-2 system. The five players included are believed to be Branislav Ivanovic, Cesc Fabregas, Oscar, Nemanja Matic and Gary Cahill.
Whilst the exits of Fabregas and Ivanovic are largely expected, and rumours have surrounded the futures of Matic and Oscar after they were linked with moves away in the summer. However, the possible departure of Gary Cahill may surprise fans, even in spite of his poor performances and costly errors in the opening weeks of the season. The England international will want to try to prove to Conte that he deserves his place in the coming weeks, with John Terry and Kurt Zouma nearing returns from injuries, but a lack of alternatives may force the Italian to retain the former Aston Villa defender.
Conte also faces another tough decision as the Daily Mail report that the club’s buy back option on Thorgan Hazard, brother of Eden, is set to expire on 31st December 2016. The £13 million clause would bring him back to Stamford Bridge after he moved to Borussia Monchengladbach, firstly on loan, in February 2015. Having scored against Barcelona in midweek Champions League action, Hazard has enjoyed a splendid start to life in the Bundesliga and on the European scene.
It is hard to see where the younger Hazard would fit into a Chelsea side already packed with wingers, with Conte planning to deploy wing-backs rather than wingers in the near future. However, Chelsea have not hesitated to buy up bright talents when they don’t clearly fit into the squad in the past and their decision on Hazard may be an indication of their new transfer policy under the former Juventus boss.
He could arrive as a replacement for, and upgrade on, young winger Christian Atsu according to Tuttosport, who report that the 24-year-old is attracting interest from Serie A club Torino as they seek to invest in their squad to help their campaign in Europe this season. Atsu is currently on loan at Newcastle United, where he is yet to start, and his contract in London will expire at the end of the current season.
Having joined Chelsea from Porto for £5.1 million in 2013, the Ghanian has struggled and has failed to impress despite a number of loan spells at the likes of Everton, Bournemouth and Malaga, with the right sided midfielder never having played for Chelsea in his four year spell at the club as that seems increasingly unlikely with the club likely to cash in before he is able to leave for free in the summer, though they may be likely to recoup what they paid for him just three and a half years ago.
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