After a campaign that has yielded no trophies for Chelsea, Jose Mourinho will this summer set about building a squad that can challenge on multiple fronts next season.
There will be players coming in of course, but there could also be a bit of a clear-out, as Mourinho looks to raise funds and fashion a squad rife with the qualities he desires. According to James Dickenson of The Express, as many as 15 players could leave Stamford Bridge this summer.
The Portuguese boss is renowned for having a very specific blueprint when it comes to the characteristics of players and was even critical of Chelsea’s Player of the Year Eden Hazard for shirking his defensive responsibilities during the Blues' Champions League exit to Atletico Madrid, per Sky Sports.
But Hazard has responded well to his manager’s comments, insisting he’ll be even better next season, per the Chelsea magazine (h/t Matt Barlow of the Mail Online):
It’s true and it’s good. I prefer it when we speak like this, rather than saying things like: 'He’s the best and he doesn’t need to work.'
I know maybe I have to do better in training or on the pitch. I want to score more and help the team score more goals and next season I hope we can be better.
You suspect there are a host of players currently in this Chelsea squad who are not quite as willing to adapt, and they’ll surely be the first out the door in the coming weeks.
So let’s run the rule over the players Mourinho is reportedly set to cut from his squad ahead of a vital campaign for the club.
After a season on the fringes of the first XI, it looks as though Mourinho will cash in on David Luiz this summer. The Brazilian defender has been linked with a move away from Stamford Bridge, with both Bayern Munich and Barcelona rumoured to be interested in the player.
According to Matt Law in The Telegraph, Barca are set to offer Alex Song to Chelsea as part of a deal for Luiz, while Martin Lipton in The Mirror has suggested that the Brazilian could be used as part of a swap deal with Bayern Munich in a move that would bring Mario Mandzukic to Stamford Bridge.
Mourinho is known for using players that he can trust, but the swashbuckling style of Luiz means the Brazilian and the Portuguese were never going to be a natural fit. In defensive and in holding midfield positions, Mourinho wants pragmatic, cohesive and disciplined players—characteristics that couldn’t be further removed from Luiz’s natural game.
For a club like Barcelona or Bayern Munich—two teams who have enormous amounts of possession—Luiz would be a brilliant fit. His ability to come out of defence with the ball and link up with the midfield would see him fit seamlessly into either team.
He’d command a big fee too, which would enable Mourinho to strengthen other areas of the squad.
Having started just 11 Premier League games last season, per WhoScored.com, John Obi Mikel is another player who looks set to leave Stamford Bridge in the summer.
According to Simon Johnson of the London Evening Standard, the player is in talks with Italian giants Internazionale, with Chelsea looking for a fee in excess of £10 million.
Mikel has endured a fine eight years at the club, with his positional awareness and defensive qualities often overlooked given his understated style. But with Nemanja Matic being brought back to Stamford Bridge in January, Mikel has fallen even further down the pecking order.
A move to Italy would suit the player, who’d revel in a style of play that is considerably less frantic than the Premier League. He’ll be able to dictate the tempo of games in the Serie A contests, and at 27 years old he still has plenty of football ahead of him.
Chelsea’s holding midfield duo for next season look set to be Matic and Ramires, and with Marco van Ginkel also set to play a much more significant role after injury ruined his debut campaign, the Blues are well stocked in central midfield positions.
After three-and-a-half torrid seasons at Chelsea, Fernando Torres could be set to put an end to his Stamford Bridge nightmare this summer.
Mourinho looks set to complete a deal for Atletico Madrid forward Diego Costa, per Sky Sports, and he will be the man that’ll lead Cheslea’s title charge next season. Torres, after another disappointing campaign, will surely be deemed surplus to requirements.
Torres scored his 20th league goal for Chelsea in what could be his final ever appearance for the club, but it took him quite a while to reach that particular landmark, as Squawka note here:
The Spaniard did score some big goals in his time at Stamford Bridge, including goals in two Champions League semi-final ties and the opener in the 2013 Europa League Final, but not once did he replicate the scintillating form he displayed on such a regular basis for Liverpool.
Nonetheless, it’s about time Torres made some kind of conscious effort to inject some much needed impetus into his faltering career. You suspect Chelsea will be happy to assist.