Rumours are starting to circulate about which players will go where in the January transfer window despite the summer transfer window closing as recently as August 31.
With Chelsea facing an injury crisis in recent weeks—Alvaro Morata, Victor Moses and N'Golo Kante have all picked up hamstring injuries—it's heightened the fact the Blues are in need of a deeper squad to compete across all fronts in 2017/18.
It was a point manager Antonio Conte recently raised.
"It's very important to go game by game," the Italian said at his press conference ahead of the Blues' UEFA Champions League clash with AS Roma. "The situation is difficult. We have to play every three days, and it's not simple.
"In this moment, we are very thin, and the same players always have to play. Honestly, there is this type of risk to have these injuries. But I hope not."
That alone hints at the fact Chelsea will have to dip into the market to find alternatives for the second half of the season, so it's unlikely we'll see any major departures from Stamford Bridge in January.
Equally, some of Conte's fringe players will need to remain at the club if Chelsea don't want to find themselves completely short.
In light of that, we're focusing our attention here on the players who are more likely to leave Stamford Bridge on loan rather than permanently.
Who should be sweating over their Chelsea future?
6. Michy Batshuayi
He's big news, but could Michy Batshuayi be leaving Chelsea on loan or permanently in January? It's highly unlikely. Even if Conte were to sign another striker, the manager has bemoaned the fact he needs more recruits in his squad to mount a serious challenge in the Premier League and Champions League.
Losing Batshuayi midseason isn't going to help the cause. Chelsea need to be strengthening, not weakening their squad.
After his tame showing against Crystal Palace, things aren't looking too positive for Batshuayi. The Daily Telegraph's Matt Law reported Conte gave his players a dressing down on the back of Saturday's defeat to the Eagles and that Batshuayi was disappointed with himself on the back of his display.
There have been positives, such as his Carabao Cup hat-trick against Nottingham Forest and also the winning goal Batshuayi scored against Atletico Madrid. Looking back to last season, when Batshuayi scored the winner against West Bromwich Albion to seal the title, the Belgian does have an ability to be a good impact substitute rather than a regular starter.
The summer may well be a different situation altogether when it comes to his long-term future. Tammy Abraham will return to Stamford Bridge after a year with Swansea City, but January seems premature to allow Batshuayi to leave.
5. Charly Musonda
After his recent Instagram outburst (h/t Andrew Dillon of The Sun), talented Belgian Charly Musonda has been under the spotlight. The questions have been about his Chelsea future, with Blues fans concerned he may well join the long list of youngsters who have shown plenty of promise only to fall at the final hurdle at Stamford Bridge.
Musonda's gripe is like that of many before him: a lack of playing time. He's feeling frustrated that he's stuck behind Eden Hazard, Willian and Pedro in the pecking order. His only start this season came against Nottingham Forest in the Carabao Cup, and he's had to live off scraps in the Premier League.
His manager has asked that he remain patient, however.
"I spoke with him, and I think Charly understood his mistake," Conte explained to journalists regarding Musonda's Instagram post. "Honestly, I think he has to continue to work very hard to improve himself on the physical aspect and on the tactical aspect, but he is working very well.
"He must continue to work in the way that he is and to be focused on the pitch and not on social media, because social media is not the most important thing for his career. I told him this, and my task is to help him always find the right way, not the wrong way."
Conte's disappointment was clear, but his response was equally about the player's need to work to prove himself in west London in a squad that contains some high-profile, proven stars. Conte also hinted at a desire to see the 21-year-old progress and become a Chelsea regular.
Musonda is far from the finished product, but with just three attacking midfielders to compete for two positions, hard work and patience should mean opportunities are forthcoming this year.
Had he not been injured earlier this season, he may well have benefited from the likes of Hazard and Pedro's absences while they were also on the treatment table.
This is a big season for Musonda, and regardless of the recent news surrounding him, we're predicting he's going nowhere in January.
4. Kyle Scott
For a player who had never made it on to the Chelsea bench before this summer, let alone started a game, Kyle Scott has become more recognised outside of Stamford Bridge this season.
He was an unused substitute against Burnley on the opening day of the season and was on the bench again in the recent 2-1 defeat to Crystal Palace.
Superstitious fans will probably be hoping Scott doesn't get anywhere near the Chelsea dugout in the coming weeks as the Blues lost 3-2 to Burnley when he was a sub.
The trouble for those who believe in that sort of bad luck and superstition is they are probably going to get used to seeing Scott's name in matchday squads this season.
With Danny Drinkwater still injured and Kante also struggling for fitness, the Blues have only Cesc Fabregas and Tiemoue Bakayoko to call upon in central midfield. Outside of them, it's Scott and the 17-year-old Ethan Ampadu making up the numbers.
That's not ideal, but it's the reality facing Conte. And unless reinforcements are made in January, the Italian will want to keep hold of players such as Scott, if only to rest key names for cup matches.
When January comes around, it's when those fringe players get their game time. The FA Cup kicks into gear, and if Chelsea remain in the Carabao Cup, they would also have to contend with semi-final fixtures as well as the Premier League. The games come thick and fast, with the best players needing to be rested for the biggest fixtures.
He'll rarely feature, but Scott's presence alone will be of value to Conte's squad.
We know it was only Nottingham Forest, a struggling Championship side, against whom Kenedy put in a fine performance for Chelsea in the Carabao Cup in September.
But regardless of that game, the Brazilian has shown in the three seasons he has been a Chelsea player that he could do a job as the left wing-back. He'll have a task on his hands to wrest that position from the impressive Marcos Alonso, but without an alternative, he must surely be in Conte's thoughts for the remainder of this season.
Scoring and grabbing an assist against Forest was a reminder of that. He is a lot like Alonso in that he may not be the strongest attacker or defender but has enough in each department to perform.
The Brazilian's problem is how much his behaviour in China is still dictating things at Chelsea. Kenedy was sent home in disgrace from pre-season after he posted some offensive material on Instagram while Chelsea were touring East Asia.
With the rumours of a move for Alex Sandro refusing to go away, with Corriere dello Sport among those linking Chelsea with the Juventus man (via the Mirror), if that happens, it's almost certainly curtains for Kenedy.
2. Baba Rahman
Had it not been for his ongoing recovery from a knee injury, Baba Rahman would have likely joined Chelsea's loan army in the summer. He remains at Stamford Bridge in the first-team squad but without a squad number.
That tells us plenty about how Conte rates him regardless of the time he needs to make a recovery from the injury he picked up while on loan at Schalke 04 last season.
If he's fit in the new year, Rahman will not be a Chelsea player. It was Conte who sanctioned his loan last summer when Chelsea didn't have another left-back, so it's difficult to see any future for him under the same regime come January.
1. Jake Clarke-Salter
With the rise of Andreas Christensen this season alongside Antonio Rudiger's arrival, Chelsea's back line is looking like their strongest asset. They have strength in numbers and a talented pool of players from which to choose.
That's bad news for Jake Clarke-Salter, though, as he needs to get more game time under his belt. The only way to do that is to leave on loan, building on what he achieved at Bristol Rovers last season.
The first-team opportunities he craves are going to be hard to come by.
Clarke-Salter appeared as a sub against Nottingham Forest earlier this season, but those cameos aren't enough for a player who has long been touted as a first-team prospect. He needs those minutes; coupled with the fact Chelsea would not look less strong at the back with him gone, he tops our list here.
It says much for Clarke-Salter's position that he doesn't prove a factor either way in the manager's thinking. He's a dispensable commodity.