Arsenal legend Thierry Henry has said he believes Chelsea will fail to attract world-class talent after the disastrous defence of their Premier League title, as reports suggest a "mass walkout" will potentially occur at Stamford Bridge—including Diego Costa and Eden Hazard.
Writing in his column for the Sun (h/t Liam Corless of the Mirror), the former Gunner declared no player would currently sign for owner Roman Abramovich's club in January due to the uncertainty surrounding the team, and that if he was still playing, he would not consider joining the Blues in their current state:
Clearly, the damage the team has suffered in recent months runs far deeper than anyone realised. And now that they don’t have the manager or the doctor to blame, it’s clearly the players who are responsible for this mess.
No top player is going to sign for Chelsea during the January window because they don’t know who the manager will be next season or if they will be playing in the Champions League.
It looks as though they could be signing Alexandre Pato from Corinthians. But if I had the chance to join Chelsea this month, I would sit tight until the summer and wait for some of those questions to be answered.
Jack Wilson of the Daily Star also claimed Chelsea are due to lose a number of top players in the coming months, naming five stars who are questioning whether their time is up at the Bridge.
Wilson explains Nemanja Matic "could lead a mass Chelsea walkout this summer," with Pedro, Costa, Oscar and Hazard potentially following the Serbian out the door.
Pedro is said to be open to a move back to Spain after failing to live up to expectations since his capture from Barcelona in the summer, and Costa also desires a move back to La Liga giants Atletico Madrid, per Wilson. Oscar has long been courted by Italian champions Juventus, while Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain are "interested" in Hazard's services.
However, Abramovich will hope his superstars turned a corner on Sunday, as they upped their quality and defeated Arsenal 1-0 at the Emirates Stadium.
Costa was the catalyst for the victory, involved in the dismissal of Arsenal's Per Mertesacker that swung the game in the favour of the champions. The Brazil-born ace then netted five minutes later to claim the much-needed three points for the Blues.
The 27-year-old's figures now look more respectable after a poor campaign, scoring eight goals in 19 Premier League appearances, according to WhoScored.com.
It was a continuation of Costa's recovery in a Chelsea shirt since the arrival of interim boss Guus Hiddink, and defender Branislav Ivanovic highlighted the striker's contribution against Arsenal, per TalkSport:
Today Diego Costa was dominant mentally against the Arsenal defenders because every time he made a difference they started provoking him and, when they started kicking him, he was calm, which is good.
And he always wanted to provoke them. It’s part of Diego’s game, he is always playing this way and if you take that away from Diego he is not the same player.
He’s very smart on the pitch and always knows where the limit is. He provokes but he always stays calm and for us he’s very important.
However, journalist and Arsenal fan Piers Morgan was less complimentary about the Blues after their win at the Gunners:
How can we lose TWICE to the worst Chelsea team in PL history? #afc— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) January 24, 2016
The victory on Sunday will provide Chelsea with a modicum of respite, but the depth of issues at the club have had a toxic effect on morale and results.
Hiddink's presence has stabilised the first team, and they are unbeaten in the Premier League since his arrival, but the fragile nature of the playing staff has been consistently exposed by multiple opponents this term.
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Chelsea need to rebuild from the ground up, and despite his recent recovery of form, Costa remains a divisive figure.
His concentration is always at risk when he is provoked, and his lack of contribution was a major factor behind the sacking of ex-manager Jose Mourinho.
The five players named by Wilson are all expendable after a season of abject failure, and Abramovich needs to flex his financial muscle in the transfer market to get Chelsea back in the same arena as Manchester City and Arsenal.