The old football adage ‘you can’t sack the players so you sack the manager’ may well be tested at Chelsea, with a report claiming Todd Boehly is preparing a squad clear-out while Graham Potter retains the club’s full backing.
After an era in which Roman Abramovich would hire and fire seemingly at the bidding of senior players, Boehly and Clearlake are looking to overhaul the squad and bring player power to an end at Stamford Bridge.
The Telegraph report that ‘the possibility of sacking head coach Potter has not even been discussed internally ahead of Sunday’s game against Crystal Palace, but it is understood Chelsea will consider a squad clear-out if results and performances do not dramatically improve.’
And that looks likely to be a move backed by the club’s fans, who were seen clapping Potter at the end of their defeat to Fulham and waited for the Chelsea boss outside the stadium to tell him ‘Don’t give up, keep the faith. Change the squad, they’re the problem’.
The squad overhaul could see the arrivals of Marcus Thuram from Borussia Monchengladbach and Noni Madueke from PSV, after Chelsea lodged a £26.5m bid for the England U21 international.
And the report also claims the Blues are confident they will be able to persuade Atletico Madrid to agree to the permanent sale of Joao Felix, should the Portugal international thrive when he returns from suspension, after an ecouraging first hour in Chelsea blue.
But new arrivals will require a clear-out and The Telegraph claim seven players could be on their way out of the club in the near future.
Hakim Ziyech, Christian Pulisic and Kai Havertz all ‘face uncertain futures’, while Jorginho will be allowed to leave when his contract expires in the summer and interest in club captain Cesar Azpilicueta ‘could be considered’.
It’s also claimed the club could ‘cut their losses on defender Kalidou Koulibaly if an offer arrives from Italy’ just six months after his £35m arrival from Napoli, while they won’t stand in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s way if wants to leave.
Boehly and Clearlake are in the process of trying to rebalance Chelsea’s wage bill and ideally want a first-team squad on basic wages with the possibility of earning very lucrative bonuses for meeting personal and team goals.
The problem with a clear-out as things stand is the lack of players available to Potter through injury – they can’t afford to lose the likes of Ziyech without replacements.