With just four weeks remaining in the 2013-14 Premier League season, fans all over the world are gearing up for the madness of the summer transfer window, as every single team will look to strengthen their squad going into next season.
Chelsea are no exception, and backed by one of the game's most powerful owners in Roman Abramovich, the arrival of a handful of star players every new transfer window is almost expected.
But new arrivals mean there have to be some departures, and the summer of 2014 will likely see several big names and club legends leave Stamford Bridge. Here are three stars Jose Mourinho should move on in the next few months.
On some level, you have to feel sorry for Torres. The Spanish forward will forever be linked with the massive transfer fee the Blues paid for him, £50 million according to the BBC, and he simply hasn't been the player for whom Chelsea broke the British transfer record.
But rather than shift their expectations of him, fans continue to hold that massive transfer fee above his head, and three years down the road, Torres' Chelsea career has been nothing but a disappointment.
According to Sky Sports' Simone Bargellini, Italian outfit Inter Milan are still interested in bringing Torres to Milan, with the team's general director Marco Fassone commenting on the player in an interview with Radio Deejay:
"He is one of the names that interest us, as admitted by our president Erick Thohir in recent days. Then you will discover in due time who will be the player we will focus on."
Per WhoScored, Torres has scored seven goals in 31 total appearances for the Blues this season, well below what fans would expect from a top striker playing for a title-contending team.
Mourinho is unhappy with his strikers, and he has said as much on multiple occasions, most recently after his team's Champions League quarter-final first-leg loss in Paris. As quoted by Metro's Massimo Marioni, the Portuguese manager said:
I’m not happy with my strikers’ performances so I had to try things.
And with Andre (Schurrle) at least I know we have one more player to have the ball, one more player to associate with the other players, even though he’s not a striker.
But football is not just about that. It’s also about scoring goals, getting behind, and that is for strikers. Real strikers. And I had to try.
Complaining about your strikers is one thing, but moving them on at the end of the season sends a strong signal to the rest of your squad. The Blues will never receive a solid return on the massive fee they paid for the services of Torres, but at this point, that should no longer matter.
If Inter are truly interested in Torres, there is no reason not to sell the player at the end of the season. And if Chelsea's interest in Inter starlet Mateo Kovacic, as reported by The Express' Ben Jefferson, is genuine, the former Spanish international could be used in a player-plus-cash deal that could bring the young Croatian to London.
Ashley Cole/Frank Lampard
The situations of both players are so similar, you might as well give them a joint introduction. Both have been with the club for a long time. Both were mercurial players at the peak of their careers, winning the club tons of silverware. Both still have plenty left in the tank, and neither is starting for the club at this stage in their career.
In fact, both players could have a future in Major League Soccer. Jose Mourinho said as much when discussing Cole, per The Telegraph's Jeremy Wilson:
You have to ask Thierry Henry. Maybe Thierry is doing with Red Bulls the same as David Beckham is doing in Miami. Maybe he’s buying Red Bulls. Yes, he has [got a future at Chelsea], but maybe Thierry has a better proposal.
Asked whether Cole would want to say, Mourinho said:
"That’s another part of the story that doesn’t depend on us. I cannot control. I like the player, I trust the player, I want him to stay. The club is happy with that."
Lampard, meanwhile, would once again be considering a move across the pond after contemplating joining LA Galaxy last season, according to The Daily Star's David Woods:
Lampard rejected the American club last summer but has a two-year deal on the table.
The Major League Soccer outfit are willing to pay the England midfielder £72,000 a week to follow in the footsteps of David Beckham.
The MLS has built somewhat of a reputation as a refuge for veteran players looking to continue their careers, but both players also reportedly have offers to stay in the Premier League. Woods goes on to claim Brighton are still interested in Lampard:
If Chelsea do not make him an offer, a possible alternative could be to join Brighton, if they are promoted to the top flight.
Last season the Championship club were keen to offer Lampard a two-year deal and make him skipper, and like LA Galaxy, have not lost interest.
Whether it's the MLS or another Premier League team, both players should be defending different colours next season.
Mourinho and Chelsea have invested in getting younger over the last few seasons, and players such as Nemanja Matic and Cesar Azpilicueta have taken over for the two legends admirably.
Which of these players should Mourinho move during the summer?
Lampard and Cole can still play, and both could be valuable contributors off the bench. Both also bring the kind of veteran leadership top teams need, but with John Terry and Petr Cech, Chelsea already aren't lacking for experience or leadership.
These two have given the bulk of their careers to the club, and it's time to let them move on and finish their careers in dignity, whether it's in England or the US. Honour them, applaud them when they make their return to Stamford Bridge, but don't let them rot on the team's bench.
All good things have to come to an end, and Mourinho has the chance to make sure both players get to leave the club on top. In this case, a goodbye would be the best situation for everyone involved.