05 Jul Chelsea Keep or Dump: Tough calls to make on Pulisic, Sterling and more
After a spend approaching $750 million over the previous two transfer windows, Chelsea‘s priorities in this transfer window were pretty clear. In order to remain compliant with Financial Sustainability rules, both those of the Premier League and UEFA (when they next qualify for European football) they needed to cut the wage bill and generate funds from sales. And they needed to reduce a bloated squad which, including loans, had ballooned to around forty players. (And which they particularly didn’t need, given the lack of European football this season).
All this while giving Mauricio Pochettino a squad competitive enough to get them back into Europe, ideally in the Champions League, but at a minimum in the Europa League. They got to work straight away and Laurence Stewart and Paul Winstanley, the co-sporting directors, have been aggressive and efficient in that regard. They made two signings thus far — Christopher Nkunku and Nico Jackson — and we expect them to bring in two to three more players: another forward and one or two central midfielders. But that may take some time as it will depend on which players they can move out.
Editor’s Note: This is the fourth in a series of stories over the coming weeks applying the same “who to keep, who to extend and who to move on” approach to all the top clubs in the Premier League and Europe. You can find our Manchester City edition here, our Arsenal edition here and our Liverpool edition here.
Edouard Mendy (31 years old, contract expired in 2025) Transferred to Al Ahli for €18.5m
MARCOTTI: They had to make a choice between Mendy and Kepa and they opted to shift the former. It’s not a big fee for a guy who led them to a Champions League crown three years ago, but then again he lost his starting spot last season and with his deal expiring in 2025, his valuation was only going to fall.
Kepa Arrizabalaga (28, 2025)
OGDEN: He’s on big wages and hasn’t exactly pulled up trees, so there’s no need to extend. Maybe he’ll blossom under Pochettino and then you can assess what you want to do. But for now, I’d ride out.
Verdict: Keep and extend his contract
Gabriel Slonina (19, 2028)
MARCOTTI: He was on loan in Major League Soccer last season and started for the US at the Under 20 World Cup. I don’t see the point in keeping him as a third keeper, he needs to play. So find some place for him to go on loan. You’ve still got Bettinelli as a back up.
Marcus Bettinelli, 31, 2026
OGDEN: There’s a lighter workload with no European football and he can probably do a job as a number two. Though if Kepa gets injured, they may want to move for a keeper in January.
Wesley Fofana (22, 2029)
Benoit Badiashile (22, 2030)
Kalidou Koulibaly (32, 2026) Sold to Al Hilal for €23m
MARCOTTI: They ended up selling him for almost half the €40m they paid to sign him a year ago, but needs must. He didn’t have a great season, he’s now 32, he was on a huge wage, and it’s not like they were going to get much more for him.
Trevoh Chalobah (23, 2028)
OGDEN: They have a ton of central defenders and it was going to come down to him or Koulibaly for depth. It makes sense to keep him, he’s younger and cheaper and showed he can do a job in that role.”
Thiago Silva (38, 2024)
MARCOTTI: I don’t know how much he’s going to play at his age, but I guess they value his leadership and it’s only a one year extension they gave him.
Marc Cucurella (24, 2028)
OGDEN: Unless Pochettino decides he loves him, he’s probably their fifth option at centre-back and their third option, after Ben Chilwell and Lewis Hall, at left-back, so he’s the sort of player you want to move on. Problem is, with the sort of season he had last year that’s difficult to do. They paid a lot of money for him and he’s on significant wages. So sell if you can, but you may need to keep him.
Verdict: Find him a new club
Ben Chilwell (26, 2027)
Levi Colwill (20, 2025)
MARCOTTI: I think he’s a phenomenal talent. He was on loan at Brighton last year and they, no doubt, want to keep him, but I think you have to extend his contract and resist the urge to let him go, maybe as part of a package for Moises Caicedo or whatever. If the Caicedo fee is too high, maybe you can include Cucurella in some form or let them have Colwill on loan for another season, but only after he extends with Chelsea. Simply keeping him around makes little sense to me, he needs to play.
Verdict: Extend contract and loan out
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Reece James (23, 2028)
Malang Sarr (24, 2025)
MARCOTTI: He didn’t play much at Monaco last year, making just eight league starts, but he’ll likely play even less if he stays. I don’t know what Chelsea can get for him because he’s had little impact over the past three years for three different clubs, so you may need to simply loan him out. If not, take whatever is offered.
Verdict: Find a new club on loan or permanent transfer
Baba Rahman (28, 2024)
OGDEN: It’s remarkable to think he joined Chelsea eight years ago and spent the last seven seasons on loan. They may have taken a hit in terminating his contract, but it was worth it.”
Ethan Ampadu (22, 2024)
OGDEN: He’s not going to play, his contract is winding down, move him on.
MARCOTTI: He was a highly touted youngster and, at 22, he already has 44 caps for Wales. Maybe he’ll never live up to the hype, but he showed in loan spells at Sheffield United and then in Serie A the last two years that he can contribute. Yes, you can sell him now and get something – not much – for him, but I think it makes more sense to extend his contract by a year or two and either loan him out or maybe keep him around for his versatility because he can also play in defensive midfielder and that’s a role where Chelsea have a big hole right now, so he may be useful as a squad player.
Verdict: Find a new club or extend contract and loan
Ian Maatsen (21, 2024)
MARCOTTI: I think you need to think of him and Lewis Hall jointly. You can carry one of the two as a back up to Chilwell. Whichever one you keep, you’ll need to extend. He had a great year on loan at Burnley, starting almost every game, helping them to promotion and being named in the team of the season. Chelsea seem intent on selling him and Burnley have had a £15m bid knocked back. If you can get the right price I guess you sell, but he looks a special player and if Pochettino is on board with it, I’d look to extend his contract and have him back up Chilwell.
Verdict: Extend and evaluate
Lewis Hall (18, 2025)
OGDEN: I like Hall, I think he has talent and the ability to become the number one left back. I’d extend his deal and keep him at the club, giving him the chance to dislodge Chilwell. He could be Pochettino’s project: a homegrown kid with the opportunity to become a club stalwart.
Verdict: Keep and extend
Cesar Azpilicueta (33, 2024) Released, joined Atletico Madrid
MARCOTTI: He’s been a great servant for the club, but I think they made the right decision to write off the last year of his contract and let him move to Atletico. It cuts the wage bill and opens the door for younger players.
Malo Gusto (20, 2030)
MARCOTTI: He’s had two years as a regular at Lyon, so you feel he’s ready to back up Reece James down the right flank. Only question here is playing time if James stays injury-free, but you can possibly look at that later, for now it makes sense to let Pochettino assess him close up.
Cesare Casadei (21 years old, contract expires in 2028)
OGDEN: He had a good year in the Championship and was top scorer at the Under 20 World C up, now he needs to kick on, so I’d look to loan him to a top division club, ideally playing in Europe.
Tino Anjorin (21, 2028)
MARCOTTI: He’s a very gifted player, but he’s had major injury problems and hasn’t played since September when he was on loan at Huddersfield. I think all you can do is try to get him fit again and then see if you can loan him.
Andrey Santos (20, 2030)
MARCOTTI: Now that he has his work permit, I think this one depends on how many defensive midfielders Pochettino thinks he needs and how many he can get. Ideally, a loan somewhere in Europe might make more sense to smooth the transition from Brazil. But if they’re short in the middle of the park, they may not have that option.
Tiemoue Bakayoko (28, 2024) Released
OGDEN: Another one where they decided to cut their losses. It’s incredible to think they paid €45m for him six years ago, but he hasn’t been able to make it work in any of his loan spells.
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Enzo Fernandez (22, 2031)
N’Golo Kante (32, 2023) Signed for Al Ittihad on free transfer
MARCOTTI: He was a great player and a popular and likeable one too, but the combination of age, wages and injuries meant it made little sense to give him a new deal. They had to let him go.
Mateo Kovacic (29, 2024) Signed for Manchester City for £25m
MARCOTTI: Selling him fits the broader plan of what they want to do… get younger and lower the wage bill. With a year left on his contract, they had little leverage in terms of fee, maybe they could have got a little more, but I’m OK with 25 million.
Conor Gallagher (23, 2025)
OGDEN: I don’t think he’s Chelsea level, so I wouldn’t extend him. Ideally, I’d look to sell, but they’re simply short on bodies in the middle of the park. Plus, I think you need some guys with Premier League experience.”
Verdict: Keep but do not extend
Ruben Loftus-Cheek (27, 2024) Signed for AC Milan for €16m
MARCOTTI: Another massive prospect as a teenager, it’s wild to think that he’s 27 and never started more than 21 league games in a season (and that was while on loan at Crystal Palace and Fulham). He has an unusual skill set and showed glimpses, but it’s time to move on. With a year left and big wages, you weren’t going to get much more than what they got.
Carney Chukwuemeka (19, 2028)
OGDEN: I think you let Pochettino make the call here. He’s still so young and has started only four top flight games. If Pochettino thinks there’s room for him to get some playing time and grow then you keep him. If not, send him out on loan where he can play. That will depend on who they bring in.
Verdict: Keep and assess
Mason Mount (24, 2024) Joined Manchester United for £60m
OGDEN: The relationship with the club fell apart and once it became obvious he wasn’t going to extend they had to sell. I think that’s a very good fee for Chelsea.
Mykhaylo Mudryk (23, 2031)
MARCOTTI: He struggled in his first six months you made a long-term commitment to him so you need to give him another shot and hope that he can settle.
Raheem Sterling (28, 2027)
OGDEN: I’d look to move him on if you can find someone who will take him, maybe in England or overseas, even on loan. Even with all the attacking players who are leaving, you’ve added Nicolas Jackson and Christopher Nkunku and you’ll want to give them playing time and you still have Mudryk, Noni Madueke, Broja coming back from injury, plus whatever new striker we think they’re going to sign and no European football.
Verdict: Sell or loan if you can
Christian Pulisic (24, 2024)
MARCOTTI: He’s on big wages, he’s a year away from free agency, and it would be silly to keep him and lose him for nothing when he wants a move, you can get a fee for him and you’re not going to give him a new deal. With AC Milan submitting a new bid worth over €20m for the forward, a deal could be on the horizon for the forward.
Verdict: Find him a new club
Noni Madueke (21, 2030)
Hakim Ziyech (30, 2025)
OGDEN: They had a deal to sell him to Al-Nasr lined up, but he failed his medical. It might be tough to sell him, but maybe they can loan him somewhere.
Verdict: Loan out or move on a permanent transfer
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Armando Broja (21 years old, contract expires in 2028)
Kai Havertz (23, 2025) Signed for Arsenal for £65M
MARCOTTI: I would have looked to keep him and extended his deal, see what Pochettino can get out of him. It’s a big fee, sure, and he hasn’t been a prolific goal scorer, but that has to be mitigated by the fact that he had three different coaches last season, the club was a mess and, maybe, centerforward isn’t his natural position. He has a special set of skills and he’s the right age for what Chelsea are trying to build.
David Datro Fofana (20, 2029)
OGDEN: He didn’t do much after arriving in January. Assuming Broja is on his way back, with Jackson on board and, presumably, another striker, it make sense to loan him out.
Pierre Emerick Aubameyang (33, 2024)
OGDEN: He simply doesn’t fit and achieved little last year. I’m pretty sure somebody will pick him up, though you may need to release him and it may be late in the window.
Verdict: Release, loan or find a new club
Romelu Lukaku (28, 2026)
MARCOTTI: He’s made it clear he wants to stay at Inter and, unless Pochettino goes out of his way to convince him to stay, which is unlikely, it’s best to move him. Chelsea will take a loss, regardless of whether they loan him and have to pay part o this wages or sell him for a reduced fee, but it’s better than keeping him around with that salary for another three seasons.
Verdict: Loan or move on a permanent transfer
Callum Hudson Odoi (22, 2024)
OGDEN: He’s had injuries and I don’t think he’s a Pochettino type player. Nottingham Forest have expressed an interest, sell and get what you can.
MARCOTTI: He’s been injured most of the last three seasons which is a real shame because he was a major prospect. Unless you get significant money for him, which I’m not sure you will, I’d leave this to medical folk. If they think they can bring him back it’s worth extending him for a year or two and giving him a pathway back into the first team.”
Verdict: Split (find a new club/ keep and extend)