Chelsea's summer clear-out: Potential players on the chopping block

Stamford Bridge
Stamford Bridge / Clive Rose/GettyImages

Chelsea FC is actively navigating the transfer window, having already secured five new signings, with Renato Veiga poised to be the sixth addition. This influx of talent necessitates departures, as CFC prioritizes offloading high-earning fringe players unlikely to feature prominently under manager Enzo Maresca.

The Chelsea board is acutely aware of the wage burden, having implemented a new structure focused on performance-based incentives and lower base salaries. The club's wage bill for the 2022/23 season soared to £404 million annually, marking a £64 million increase from the previous year. Notably, 15 players earned over £150,000 per week in 2022/23, but this figure has been reduced to eight for the 2023/24 season. The board aims to further trim this number by moving players on. The club's wage-conscious approach is evidenced by their decisions to abandon the pursuits of Michael Olise and Nico Williams due to their wage demands.

Romelu Lukaku is the prime candidate for departure. The Belgian striker, earning £325,000 per week, is available for transfer with a release clause of £38 million. CFC is intent on selling Lukaku outright, as he enters the final year of his contract, which would save the club £16.9 million annually.

Malang Sarr, who has not featured for the Blues in over two years, earns £120,000 per week. Like Lukaku, Sarr is in the final year of his contract and could leave on a free transfer if not sold this window. His 21 appearances have cost the club £25 million in salary.

Kepa Arrizabalaga, the world's most expensive goalkeeper, earns £150,000 per week. Since his arrival, the Spaniard has struggled to justify his transfer fee and wages. With Maresca preferring Robert Sanchez and Djordje Petrovic, Kepa's departure seems imminent.

Offloading these three fringe players could save the west Londoners up to £30 million, as none are expected to start under Maresca. This financial boost could help the club retain key players like Conor Gallagher and Trevoh Chalobah, and reward deserving talents like Cole Palmer, currently on £75,000 per week.

Marc Cucurella, earning £175,000 per week (£9 million annually), was considered for sale following a dip in form during the 2022/23 and early stages of the 2023/24 seasons. However, Ben Chilwell, who earns £250,000 per week, has emerged as a potential departure with Manchester United showing interest, offering significant relief to Chelsea's wage bill.

Raheem Sterling might be another player the Blues would consider selling. Despite being on a substantial £325,000 per week, Sterling has severely underperformed, making him a potential candidate for departure to further alleviate the club’s wage bill, although he reportedly wants to stay at the club.

The exits of Thiago Silva and Hakim Ziyech have already saved Chelsea £200,000 per week, equating to over £10 million annually. As Chelsea looks to commence a new chapter under Enzo Maresca, expect a dynamic transfer period with further signings and departures shaping the squad's future.