March is always an interesting time of year for Chelsea. Usually by this point, the fate of the season is more or less settled and it’s either about getting the job done or simply finishing the year out. At the same time, eyes start to turn towards the summer plans and how to reinforce.
Chelsea is eyeballing a warchest (again) this summer and to fund it they will have to sell. Some contracts may play their hand for them. Generally, a player with only one year left on their contract can either be extended or sold, with few clubs being willing to risk a year where the player waits for free agency. This calculus also leaks into players with two years remaining, as the price is arguably highest at the two year countdown mark. If a club doesn’t think a player will extend, they sell at two years rather than suffer the price drop at a year or less.
A fair few players in Chelsea’s squad fit into one of these two categories, and that puts their futures into limbo in regards to the warchest. Chelsea can surely fill some of that themselves but if they want to splash cash like last summer, some players will have to go the other way. That’s where these players come in. Many will have one or two options: extend or get out.
The group that will either be out of contract or on the one year remaining mark includes Willy Caballero, Thiago Silva, Olivier Giroud, Cesar Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger, Emerson, and Andreas Christensen.
The first three will be the most pressing as their contracts end in the summer. Caballero is surely gone. Silva is rumored to be getting an extension. And Giroud seems to have the ball in his court as he decides what to do. That could easily go either way yet.
The rest are less urgent, but the club still won’t let most run their contracts into free agency. Cesar Azpilicueta is one they might out of respect to his service, but if he continues to play it would not be shocking to see him extended. The rest are trickier. Rudiger and Christensen suddenly find themselves playing a lot but they’ll have to extend to stay. There are rumors both have extensions on the way but they’ll both need to take them to be at Chelsea next season.
Emerson is a more awkward case and one likely tied to Marcos Alonso (who has two years left). Alonso is playing a ton now but the club surely would want Ben Chilwell to lead things going forward. So, for yet another year, it comes down to Emerson or Alonso staying. For now Emerson seems the most likely to go but there could be a few more turns in that tale yet.
The remaining players on two years create dilemmas. Again, their price will be highest this summer so if the club is looking for the biggest revenue streams, it comes from these players. This group includes Alonso, Jorginho, N’Golo Kante, Kurt Zouma, Tammy Abraham, and Billy Gilmour.
Jorginho and Kante is of course an interesting conversation. Thomas Tuchel has largely settled on a three player rotation for his pivot and all three are playing in near equal measure. Both Jorginho and Kante are 29, so it really is now or never to get the best price for either. For now, it seems unlikely Tuchel would allow the club to part with either but any midfield signing or even just the right offer will surely prompt the board to do their own thing.
The remainder are the truly complicated cases. Abraham and Zouma went from trusted, quality players under Frank Lampard to ghosts under Tuchel. Both have barely featured in a squad that has rotated often. If Erling Haaland rumors come to anything, there is virtually no way Abraham extends. Zouma finds himself in a similar situation as the most valuable asset in the defense but one that will surely be pushed out if Chelsea signs a centerback. Both would fetch huge sums after proving themselves to be good Premier League players and the board is sure to shop them out whether they hint at a willingness to extend or not.
The one player in this category who can probably consider himself safe is Billy Gilmour. He is all but certain to demand a loan for next season now but it is rare for the club to sell a player that young that has shown the quality Gilmour has. They will surely want to extend him before he goes anywhere but they won’t feel pressured into it like they might in some other decisions.
Chelsea will fill most of their warchest with sales from these two groups. If players want to stay at Stamford Bridge, they pretty much have to extend or refuse to transfer. The Blues will surely be shopping all of these players out without an extension. If warchest 2.0 is legit, it is likely the Blues look very different next season.