While the summer spending may well be over for Chelsea, the drama of the transfer window will continue to be the centre of attention at Stamford Bridge for the next few weeks.
With high-profile, new recruits making their way to west London this summer, just how many of manager Jose Mourinho’s former team stalwarts have a place in his side next season is a hot topic for Blues fans.
Here, we take a look at two big-name stars that could have already played their final games for Chelsea.
Goalkeeper Petr Cech is one of those linked with the exit door, with Thibaut Courtois’ return casting the Czech star’s future into doubt.
The 32-year-old performed superbly last season in the Chelsea goal, and as OptaJoe revealed, he more than kept up with the highly rated Courtois—who also impressed during a loan spell with Atletico Madrid:
24 - Petr Cech and Thibaut Courtois both conceded 24 goals in their respective domestic leagues in 2013/14. Battle. pic.twitter.com/WKdqxDElrg— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) July 25, 2014
However, with youth on the Belgian’s side and the Blues needing to meet the home-grown quotas for both the Premier League and Champions League, Cech may well be on the way out.
Mourinho himself has hinted that Cech’s future may not be in the Chelsea shirt, too, saying that veteran Mark Schwarzer is his No. 2 next season—per Sky Sports, via ESPN.co.uk:
"I know that Schwarzer is a very good goalkeeper, very stable, a group man [who is] completely ready to be our second goalkeeper like he was last season—to give positive answers if we need him to play. He is our second goalkeeper—we feel very safe with him.”
With Schwarzer confirmed as No. 2, it seems that the No. 1 shirt will be heading Courtois’ way, as Mourinho looks to give Chelsea the platform for future success.
Though Cech was arguably Chelsea’s top performer last term, it’s the simple fact that Courtois is so good at what he does that has allowed Blues fans to come to terms with the move.
Having the Czech Republic international sit on the Chelsea bench for the duration of the season just wouldn’t make sense, and while he still has life in his gloves, he should be made use of elsewhere.
As much as Cech would love to stay and fight for the No. 1 shirt that he’s made his own over the years, he may not have a say in the matter, and bringing in one of the home-grown Jamal Blackman or Mitchell Beeney to replace Cech will see the Blues meet their quota as well as end their selection dilemma.
It all depends on how much the Portuguese manager wants Cech in his ranks, but if he does, then the goalkeeper is in safe hands.
Another player linked with heading for the Stamford Bridge exit door is out-of-sorts striker Fernando Torres, who has been the ultimate big-money flop since making the switch to west London.
With Diego Costa and Didier Drogba’s arrivals, chances are set to be few and far between for the Spaniard next term, and he could be looking elsewhere in the bid to secure regular football.
Though he’s hardly enjoyed his time at Stamford Bridge in front of goal, Torres remains a striker with dynamic ability, and reports are emerging that Wolfsburg have made an enquiry about his availability.
As Gianluca Di Marzio revealed, the Bundesliga side have approached Chelsea and have put him top of their list on the club’s hunt for a new striker.
Mourinho spoke with Sky Sports recently, outlining the need for Chelsea to have three acting strikers next season, with Torres very much part of his plans:
“Three strikers is fundamental in a squad and we have three strikers; Fernando, Didier and Diego so one of them is not going for sure."
With Torres likely to stay, Blues fans will hope he somehow rekindles the form that made him a £50-million man. However, pre-season gaffs haven’t filled them with much optimism.
In the friendly win over Olimpija Ljubljana, Torres missed a textbook two-yard sitter, leaving Spanish journalist Sergi Dominguez to question why exactly he’s in the Blues’ setup:
Fernando Torres missing a 2-yard sitter was nothing out of the ordinary. Astounding how he's still at Chelsea, club way above his weights.— Sergi Domínguez (@FutbolSergi) July 27, 2014
Take that miss out of his play, though, and Torres has been a livewire in pre-season, but as always, he just needs something to bring him back up on the confidence front.
Mourinho showing faith in him will do just that, but with Costa set to lead the line in a one-man attack next term, it’ll be substitute appearances and rare cup starts for the Spaniard.
Chelsea fans still have every reason to be excited for the upcoming campaign, though, and while Cech and Torres could easily depart in the coming weeks, the squad’s strength means that it’s no reason to panic.