Chelsea are not the only side who are struggling to sell their ‘deadwood’ this summer, but Thomas Tuchel will realise his side can ill-afford such an affliction right now.
The German is struggling to hide his frustration with the Blues’ pre-season preparations out in the States – a 4-0 thumping at the hands of Arsenal in Orlando was the latest setback in what has been a largely unhappy tour.
Despite the arrival of Raheem Sterling and Kalidou Koulibaly, the 48-year-old has laid into his squad for a ‘lack of commitment’, even from those he does hold as part of his plans this season.
A report in The Telegraph suggests the German boss could also be stuck with unwanted players for the upcoming campaign because top-flight clubs are reluctant to strike a deal with the Premier League giants for their out-of-form stars.
It is a blow for Tuchel who will be aware of the impact of having disillusioned players around the squad during the course of the season and the negative atmosphere it can create.
Thomas Tuchel is facing the prospect of having a bloated squad for the upcoming season
It is also a worrying prospect if Chelsea want further incomings to follow Sterling and Koulibaly, with Todd Boehly perhaps more conscious than his predecessor of balancing the books.
The Telegraph cite six stars whose time at the Bridge is fast running out; Michy Batshuayi, Ross Barkley, Kenedy, Timo Werner, Malang Sarr and Kepa Arrizabalaga.
So do any have a possible future in west London? What are Tuchel’s prospects of getting rid of them to make way for further signings?
Here, Sportsmail looks at what the future could hold for the half-dozen stars who the Blues are struggling to offload.
He and Todd Boehly want further recruits but have six players who are yet to attract bids
Michy Batshuayi – £69,000 per week
The striker was name dropped by Tuchel when the German appeared to offer every member of his bloated squad a clean slate earlier this week.
‘For all of them [there is a chance],’ Tuchel said. ‘Everybody has the chance now to show up. The big part of it is the players here are a nice, open group, which makes it very easy to feel welcome and show your best level.
‘This is why the youngsters and players like Michy Batshuayi, who feel new in the group, have a big, big, chance. They are responsible for what they make out of it.’
However, few would begrudge the Belgian if he did not believe the words coming out of Tuchel’s mouth. Batshuayi went out on loan for the fifth time since joining Chelsea in 2016 last season, in which he scored 14 goals in 42 games for Besiktas.
Michy Batshuayi has lacked composure in the box and has wasted chances in pre-season
In pre-season, he has lacked composure in the box and wasted chances against both Club America and Charlotte. He was given just under 30 minutes to make an impression against Arsenal, with the Gunner notching their third goal within two minutes of his arrival on the pitch.
The 28-year-old however is in the prime of his career and therefore a number of loans around Europe for a season is hardly seeing the talent he possesses fulfilled to the maximum.
Romelu Lukaku’s departure could potentially have opened the door but Tuchel also said he expects West Ham target Armando Broja to stay. Both Batshuayi and Broja staying and earning minutes appears unlikely.
With time more on Broja’s side, things once again look bleak for Batshuayi – who has just 12 months left on his deal after signing an extension last August.
Kenedy – £25,000 per week
The Brazilian can match Batshuayi for the number of loans away from Stamford Bridge since joining, but his latest spell away was less fruitful than the Belgian’s, scoring just once in 17 games for Flamengo before he was recalled in January.
He probably shocked many fans by being selected in Tuchel’s starting XI for the final Premier League game of last season against Watford.
The Brazilian wing-back marauded up and down the Chelsea left and made an impact by setting up Kai Havertz’s opener. He also put in an impressive display against Charlotte at right wing-back, including two outside-of-the-boot crosses.
Kenedy could be seen as adequate cover for Reece James in the right wing-back role
With Cesar Azpilicueta likely to leave, Kenedy could be seen as adequate cover for Reece James in that position, and the fact he was recalled in January amid their injury crisis suggests he is not totally out of the picture. However, he was not part of the squad well beaten in Orlando on Saturday night.
Leeds have also shown an interest but with no bids forthcoming, an exit out of Stamford Bridge appears unlikely.
However, he has put his best foot forward when he has featured in recent months and cannot have done much more to try and fully earn Tuchel’s trust. It now just remains to be seen if Tuchel is convinced to incorporate him into the squad.
Malang Sarr – £120,000 per week
Very much Antonio Rudiger’s back-up last season, Malang Sarr had a mixed season, capable of making a basic mistake despite looking assured throughout most of the match.
He may have initially had hopes of featuring more than the 21 times he did in all competitions in his first season with Chelsea when Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen left on free transfers.
But the £34m arrival of Kalidou Koulibaly from Napoli and ongoing negotiations for £55m Sevilla and France centre-back Jules Kounde means the door appears to be closing by the second on a breakthrough campaign for the 23-year-old.
Malang Sarr has neither stood out nor made any glaring errors in pre-season after
Chelsea wanted to make sorting out their dishevelled defence a priority this summer but that does not mean they will necessarily address their back-up options before the window slams shut.
He has neither stood out nor made any glaring errors in pre-season but that may not be enough to be part of Tuchel’s squad. Thiago Silva is the experienced option, while Trevoh Chalobah will be hoping to develop more this season.
Interestingly, Sarr’s heart at least appears to still be in it – with the defender having to be calmed down by Tuchel at the beginning of the second half after complaining about a lack of effort from team-mate Timo Werner.
Levi Colwill and Ethan Ampadu could also provide competition if they remain, meaning a loan away could very much be on the cards for Frenchman Sarr.
Ross Barkley – £96,000 per week
The midfielder scored Chelsea’s final goal of last season with a match-winning header against Watford.
But it came at the end of another season in which he saw limited minutes, playing just 452 minutes in 14 matches across all competitions.
And pre-season has not been that productive either, having played out of position as a No 6 against Club America before a hamstring issue ruled him out of the game against Charlotte. He also missed the clash with Arsenal.
The Mirror reported earlier this week the 28-year-old has been put up for sale while other reports suggest Aston Villa and former club Everton are both interested in signing him, with Newcastle also linked.
Barkley may not need much tempting to make the move elsewhere to get his once-blazing career back on track. And with little interest being shown in other players on this list, it may finally be curtains for the midfielder at Stamford Bridge.
Aston Villa and former club Everton are reportedly interested in signing Ross Barkley (centre)
Timo Werner – £272,000 per week
The Germany striker is among the most underwhelming pieces of business conducted by the Blues in recent years, scoring just 23 goals in 89 games since joining from RB Leipzig in a £53m deal in 2020.
He has struggled to cement a place in Tuchel’s starting XI during his two seasons at Stamford Bridge. But now it appears he could have annoyed Tuchel with what he is doing off the pitch too.
Werner scored in the first pre-season game against Club America but like Barkley missed the second through a hamstring injury.
Speaking recently however, the Blues striker said he could ‘be happy everywhere’ and that it was ‘clear’ that he wants to play more ahead of the World Cup later this year.
Timo Werner has scored just 23 goals in 89 games since joining from RB Leipzig in a £53m deal
He also appeared to take a subtle dig at Tuchel by saying: ‘I think of course the manager always has different ideas, different thoughts and what you need in different games. I think in many games I was not in his thoughts so I try to change that.’
Tuchel responded by saying: ‘I’m surprised, I would be very happy as a young guy having a contract at Chelsea Football Club.
‘I would be one of the happiest people on the planet. He needs to get his game time by showing quality, take your place and defend your place.
‘I would be one of the happiest people on the planet having a contract with Chelsea. If he said this, I do not understand.’
Borussia Dortmund have previously shown an interest but it is unlikely Chelsea would be happy to part ways with two major forwards in the same window.
For the time being it appears Werner will be given one more year before a decision is made in 2023, when he will have two years left on his deal.
Kepa Arrizabalaga – £155,000 per week
Chelsea signed Spaniard Kepa back in 2018 for a world record fee of £71.6million, but he has found first-team opportunities limited in recent times.
Sportsmail understands Napoli have asked about taking the former Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper on loan, with the 27-year-old not part of the squad that took on Charlotte.
He has enjoyed a run of games on a few occasions at Stamford Bridge, but ultimately regular errors forced the Blues to go back into the market for another goalkeeper in Edouard Mendy.
Sportsmail understands Napoli have asked about taking Kepa Arrizabalaga on loan
But his situation remains perhaps the haziest of them all. Marcus Bettinelli played just once last season while expected incoming Gabriel Slonina is thought to be heading back to Chicago Fire on loan.
At the same time Tuchel has spoken about Kepa’s qualities and he would be a starter at many clubs around Europe, transfer fee and wage limitations aside.
On the flip side though, the Blues could be reluctant to sign two goalkeepers in one summer when so many other areas need addressing. It is one that could still go either way but Kepa’s frustrations at Chelsea could yet continue.
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