Chelsea's pursuit of Diego Costa is destined to unsettle top players already at the club. With the FIFA Financial Fair Play rules in effect, the Blues know they must break even when aiming to snap up Atletico Madrid's £45 million-rated striker, as reported by Martin Lipton of the Mirror.
Jose Mourinho made a profit during the January window, still managing to bring in Nemanja Matic and Mohamed Salah. The sales of Kevin De Bruyne and Juan Mata ensured Chelsea kept progressing without putting their future in financial danger, a strategy that needs to be implemented across the summer.
If Costa is to come, it's likely one or two of the current crop will need to leave. Who's in the firing line? Let's take a look.
Top Players Set to Be Axed by Blues to Fund Diego Costa
The Young Ones: Eden Hazard and Oscar
While it seems highly unlikely Mourinho would ever dispose of his two brightest young stars, that rumour is increasingly doing the rounds. Lipton's report highlights that, if Chelsea wish to acquire a costly striker, the books could be balanced by ridding Stamford Bridge of two extremely popular employees:
Jose Mourinho could be forced to sacrifice Oscar or Eden Hazard to fund his summer spending spree.
[...] PSG would be willing to pay up to £40m for Hazard, one of the bright lights of Chelsea's season, and are also interested in Oscar.
Mourinho jokingly valued the pair at "£300m" last week.
It seems like this scenario would be a last resort. There are many candidates who could leave without severely impacting the effectiveness of Mourinho's squad, so this report should be taken with a pinch of salt.
Hazard and Oscar are Chelsea's two top scorers this season (the latter is joint second on eight goals with Samuel Eto'o), per WhoScored.com. Mourinho has built his team around Hazard, prioritising his speed, work ethic and counter-attacking style. It's unlikely he'd sacrifice this for Costa.
The Old Ones: John Terry, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole
Which player should Chelsea get rid of first?
Far more viable than selling a young starlet would be the decision to offload ageing stars. The English trio of John Terry, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole could all significantly cut the wage bill if they were to be dismissed.
"Ashley Cole is set to go while the futures of Frank Lampard and Chelsea's talismanic skipper John Terry - also out of contract in the summer - remain clouded in doubt," writes Lipton.
This report contradicts comments made by Mourinho at the end of last year, where he suggested all three would receive new deals, reported by ESPN:
Their desire to play for this club, nobody has doubts about it. We want them to feel free to express and to enjoy these last years of their careers. Everything is very calm and at the end of the season, probably before that, the club will sit with them, the offer will be on the table.
While each of these players has enjoyed memorable tenures in West London, Terry is the only player who will be missed if we're judging on impact this season. The warrior-like captain continues to lead and has made 38 appearances across the Premier League and Champions League this year, as Mourinho continues to prop his team up with an old head.
Lampard has made 24 starts and eight substitute appearances across the same competitions. His goalscoring touch has dissipated somewhat, as Chelsea fans have seen the 35-year-old successfully stroke the ball home on six occasions.
Cole's season continues to be something of a disaster. Mourinho appears uninterested in playing the former Arsenal left-back, instead pushing Cesar Azpilicueta into his role. The Spaniard has performed admirably, limiting Cole to just 12 starts and one appearance from the bench in the domestic division and Europe.
Each player enjoys hefty wages. If they're not being used, why keep them?
The Unwanted Ones: Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto'o, Demba Ba and David Luiz
Mourinho recently blasted his strikers after Chelsea's 3-1 Champions League loss to Paris Saint-Germain, saying he is "not happy" with any of their form, reported by Neil Ashton of the Daily Mail.
Which player should be the first to leave?
Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto'o and Demba Ba are prime candidates to leave if Costa comes in, especially considering the Spaniard's presence would decrease their playing time. Torres could drum up around £20 million, according to Matt Barlow of the Daily Mail, chipping away at the Costa fee and ridding the club of vital wages.
Eto'o will only be able to leave on a free due to his contract expiring in the summer, while Chelsea are unlikely to receive a major fee for Ba. He has regressed since sealing a £7 million switch in January 2013, reported by Rob Burnett of the Daily Mirror.
As such, another big-name player will need to be offloaded alongside Torres. David Luiz is worth in the region of £25 million, per Jason Burt of The Telegraph, but main suitors Barcelona are unable to make a bid due to their recently imposed transfer ban.
Luiz is sure to interest many. It seems cashing in on him and Torres is the way to go, while ridding Chelsea of wages accumulated by Eto'o, Ba and Cole is also a smart move.
It's sure to be a summer of change at Stamford Bridge. Like every other major team, finances must be calculated correctly. Mourinho is obviously looking to land someone of Costa's ilk—a world-class striker who can consistently change games—but sacrifices will need to be made if he is to arrive.