Chelsea: Back, sack and… erm, crack

Date published: Wednesday 25th May 2016 12:27

Diego Costa Eden Hazard Football365

Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United are done. Time to see what lies ahead for Antonio Conte…

 

Back

Thibaut Courtois: Like a low-budget version of the situation at Manchester United, Chelsea should take every opportunity to persuade their No. 1 (or No.13) to remain. Both goalkeepers can do better, but can be coaxed into staying.

Asmir Begovic: An adept and willing back-up with vast Premier League experience. Regardless of Courtois’ future, Begovic remains second-choice.

Cesar Azpilicueta: Not only Chelsea’s best left-back, but also their best right-back. Nothing encapsulates the task facing Conte more pertinently.

John Terry: Captain, Leader, Legend, Bench. The 35-year-old will be a useful figure to have at Stamford Bridge during an era of transition, but he no longer commands a regular first-team place.

Kurt Zouma: The 21-year-old should be treated with care upon his return from a knee injury this summer. Alongside Azpilicueta, he is the only current Blues defender worthy of a starting place.

Gary Cahill: Forget Nwankwo Kanu and Taribo West, why has no-one investigated how Gary Cahill has been 30 years old for the past decade? The England international is more than capable back-up for a 30-something Italian centre-half from Serie A.

Nathan Ake: Has passed the ‘Chelsea loan player’ test with a promising season at Watford. Deserves an opportunity to impress.

Cesc Fabregas: Despite suffering his usual second-half-of-the-season slump throughout the whole of the campaign, he still registered the most assists of any Chelsea player, and only two scored more.

Eden Hazard: Four goals in his last five games for the former Premier League Player of the Year. Just forget August to April, and all is well.

Pedro: One would be forgiven for forgetting the Spaniard still plays for Chelsea. Yet he scored more goals than Christian Eriksen, Juan Mata, Mesut Ozil and Raheem Sterling last season. Go figure.

Willian: A rarity of a player who emerges from Chelsea’s Premier League title defence with their reputation enhanced.

Kenedy: Still only 20, and has shown enough to be given an extended opportunity under new management.

Diego Costa: Arguably the one player Conte cannot afford to lose. Behind Costa, there is Remy (going), Alexandre Pato (gone) and Radamel Falcao (gone). And Patrick Bamford.

 

Sack

Marco Amelia: Why have a 34-year-old, World Cup-winning, Sergio Romero-lookalike as your third-choice goalkeeper when you can have a Jamal Blackman?

Patrick Bamford: Go and find your Total Football elsewhere, kid.

John Obi Mikel: Chelsea Football Club may have retained the talents of one long-serving legend, but keeping Terry will be celebrated through the tears of losing master Obi John.

Oscar: There must be at least one victim from the hoarding of all the No. 10s. The Brazilian is the most dispensable.

Loic Remy: When Tom Carroll and Rickie Lambert started more Premier League games than you last season, a campaign in which your club’s main striker endured a run of one goal in 13 games, it might be time to leave.

Papy Djilobodji: As Conte himself will surely ask this summer: “Chi?”

Tomas Kalas: Will either be sent on loan once more or will finally be sold.

Kenneth Omeruo: Read above.

Nathaniel Chalobah: And again.

Marco van Ginkel: And once more.

Christian Atsu: This is the last time. Promise.

Victor Moses: If Stamford the Lion shrinks a few feet one matchday, you will know why.

Michael Hector: Chelsea have a hell of a lot of loan players, don’t they?

Lucas Piazon: Seriously, this is taking the p*ss.

Marko Marin: Signed by Chelsea for £6.5million in summer 2012, Marin had featured for Germany at the World Cup two years prior, and had impressed in the Bundesliga. In the four years since, he has been sent out on loan to Fiorentina, Sevilla, Anderlecht and Trabzonspor. He might not have a future at the club.

 

Crack

Branislav Ivanovic: Unless you are Graeme Souness, you will know that Ivanovic has not had the greatest of seasons. A 32-year-old centre-half with a massive arse should not be a starting right-back for a club with Premier League and Champions League aspirations. But he is an experienced head.

Baba Rahman: Must improve on his debut season in English football, but has shown glimpses of what he can do.

Ola Aina: Could be sent on loan for experience; could comprise part of the club’s academy graduate quota. Hail the next John Terry.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek: At what stage do we accept that it just might not happen? Everything is in place for Carl Cort’s half-brother to realise his supposed potential. After this season, there are no more excuses.

Nemanja Matic: From Chelsea reject to Chelsea hero to Chelsea reject to Manchester United and Jose Mourinho target. If Conte can restore the 2014/15 version, he has an excellent player at his disposal. If it is the 2015/16 version he inherits, good luck.

Bertrand Traore: Should enjoy his time in Chelsea’s run to the Capital One Cup quarter-finals.

Matt Miazga: Tall.

Nathan: Started just four games in the Eredivisie for Chelsea B Vitesse, and scored two goals. Still only 20, and will embrace another loan spell next season.

Juan Cuadrado: Of Chelsea’s raft of loanees, Cuadrado is the one who returns with an improved status. Conte will have viewed the winger’s performances for Juventus with a slight smirk and a glint in the eye, as the Colombian impressed with The Old Lady. He scored one and assisted the other in a Turin derby win, then set up Alvaro Morata to score the winner in the Coppa Italia final against Milan.

 

Matt Stead

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