5 Chelsea Players Who Are Fighting for Their Futures in Rest of Season

Garry HayesFeatured ColumnistMarch 3, 2016

5 Chelsea Players Who Are Fighting for Their Futures in Rest of Season

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    Chelsea continue the fight to save their season under interim manager Guus Hiddink.

    This week saw them climb into the Premier League's top 10 for the first time all year, while the Blues also remain in the hunt for the UEFA Champions League and FA Cup.

    A top-four finish is looking unlikely, but the aim for Chelsea is to salvage as much as they can from the wreckage of what has been a disastrous campaign until now.

    It's going to be an interesting few months as the season counts down, made even more so by the fact Chelsea continue the hunt for their next permanent manager.

    Jose Mourinho may have paid the price for Chelsea's poor season when he was sacked in December, but the expectation is the cull may continue, with some players falling victim in the summer.

    So who is fighting for their Stamford Bridge future? Bleacher Report identifies five Chelsea stars who have their work cut out between now and May.

John Terry

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    The Chelsea captain has revealed that he is yet to be offered to a new contract that will keep him at Stamford Bridge beyond this season.

    Chelsea's stance on John Terry's future is that they're waiting on appointing a new manager before offering him an extension.

    Assuming that's the case and Terry wants to remain in west London, between now and May will mean him auditioning to impress whoever it is Chelsea appoint to replace Guus Hiddink on a permanent basis.

    Terry is 35 years old, so there are big questions about his physical condition. Can he play enough games to justify being paid the sort of salary he will command? Is he still capable of playing at the highest level?

    Added to that, since Terry limped off against Newcastle United last month, his replacement in the middle of defence has been Branislav Ivanovic.

    Ivanovic is three years Terry's junior and started out as a centre-back. If he continues to perform the way he has in recent weeks, Ivanovic may well show the Chelsea hierarchy that losing Terry isn't as much of an issue as we first thought.

    As it stands, with no contract offer, Terry's leaving Chelsea come the end of 2015/16. If he wants that to change, he has a big task to convince Chelsea's powerbrokers.

Nemanja Matic

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    What has happened to Nemanja Matic this season? From being Chelsea's lynchpin in defensive midfield last season, his form has dropped off the edge of a cliff.

    Matic has disappeared, appearing a shadow of the player we know he can be. With a summer of upheaval expected as Chelsea freshen up their squad, Matic finds himself in a position where he must prove himself once more.

    It doesn't help that John Obi Mikel has impressed under Guus Hiddink. The Nigerian has been a big part of the Blues rediscovering their form in recent weeks, with Hiddink making him his No. 1 in defensive midfield.

    All the while, Matic continues to look out of sorts. He needs games to rediscover his best, but with Mikel on the scene, that's looking difficult.

    Given the system this Chelsea side plays, it's vital they have a player like Matic in the middle of the pitch. If his form continues the way it has, there's every chance the club will look elsewhere to shore things up.

    The Serb is among the Chelsea players whose future is most at risk.

Oscar

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    He's been a Chelsea player for four seasons now, but we're still not sure quite where Oscar fits in at Stamford Bridge.

    He's played predominantly as a No. 10, but he lacks the creativity of others in that area of the pitch to really make an impact in the way we would expect. Oscar doesn't pick up enough assists or score enough goals to warrant a regular starting position there.

    Equally, he lacks the pace to exploit defenders out wide, so whenever he features on the right or left of Chelsea's attacking midfield, he's regularly cutting inside, and the Blues look narrow as a result.

    Oscar's biggest problem, though, is his inconsistency. He can look a world-beater one week before disappointing the next, as we're continuing to see now.

    That's not good enough for Chelsea. The club needs players who can perform to a high level every week, and thus far Oscar hasn't shown that he can.

    With the new manager coming in, he'll be asking a few questions: What does he offer Chelsea? Is there another player who can do more? Can Oscar give Chelsea an edge?

    Rather than waiting until the summer, Oscar needs to answer those questions now.

Alexandre Pato

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    Alexandre Pato has been at Chelsea for a month now, yet we're still to see him in action because he's been trying to get fit, having not played since November.

    That's all well and good, but with just 10 Premier League games remaining this term, time is running out for Pato to make an impact of any sort.

    He was signed on loan from Corinthians as Chelsea are evidently not willing to commit to a permanent transfer in the hope Pato will rediscover the form that made him such a star at AC Milan.

    If he's not playing games, that's going to be very difficult. Pato needs to be starting now to build some momentum, otherwise his time in west London will be very brief.

    Pato's challenge is to score goals and rival Diego Costa as Chelsea's match-winner. If he's sat on the bench or isn't fit enough to play, that isn't going to happen.

    Over the summer, positions will become available in the Chelsea squad. We're expecting plenty of movement in and out, and Pato's in a strong position when we consider future signings. He's already at the club, training under the watchful eye of the coaches every day. He has to make that count.

     

Patrick Bamford

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    After a nightmare loan spell with Crystal Palace earlier this season, Chelsea's Patrick Bamford is now with Premier League strugglers Norwich City.

    In the short term, his task is to help the Canaries remain in the top flight, but he must surely be looking at the bigger picture and what his future has in store.

    Bamford has scored goals prolifically in the lower leagues of English football, although the jury is still out on whether or not he can do it at the highest level.

    He'll be 23 shortly after the 2016/17 season starts, meaning he's coming out of the youngster bracket and needs to start making an impact. It's for that reason his move to Norwich feels likes the Last Chance Saloon in terms of his Chelsea future.

    Bamford needs to score goals at Carrow Road and give Alex Neil's side something they have been missing. The hope will be that he can then convince the Chelsea management that he is first-team material at Stamford Bridge.

    The next few months are the biggest of Bamford's career, and he can't afford to let them slip.

    Garry Hayes is Bleacher Report's lead Chelsea correspondent. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow him on Twitter @garryhayes