Thomas Tuchel has already openly admitted that several of his Chelsea players want to leave this club this summer and, although it is surprising to see him speak about this, their stances may actually make his job easier.
After all, Tuchel is blessed, or burdened, with a large first-team squad. There is simply no way he can give each of his stars enough minutes to keep them all satisfied, meaning that tough choices must be made.
Many players are already subject to speculation over moves elsewhere. There are those who find themselves on the fringes, and also a number of out-of-favour names who are stuck in limbo after their loan spells.
Thomas Tuchel openly admitted that several of his first-team players at Chelsea want to leave
Tammy Abraham may be among those hoping for moves away with Arsenal reportedly keen
Pre-season, of course, is the time where many of these outcasts will be handed one final chance to impress, but the process of Tuchel wielding the axe and trimming down his group will already be underway.
Asked about his bloated ranks, Tuchel said: ‘That was new, I was not scared about it.
‘I was curious to see how the mentality is because, don’t forget, some of them leave their families behind, some of them want to stay in their loan clubs, some of them have not that possibility.
The demands from Tuchel are high and the process of wielding the axe is already underway
‘Some of them have done two or three pre-seasons here already. Some of them want to look absolutely for the chance to stay, some of them want to maybe leave.
‘They’re humans, they’re not robots and that’s why we have to accept it’s not the easiest situation also for them.’
So, with this conundrum in mind, here are a host of the players desperately in need of a move or a shock lifeline from their manager…
TAMMY ABRAHAM (STRIKER, 23)
Arsenal are believed to be interested in Tammy Abraham, who has dramatically fallen out of favour under Tuchel at Chelsea.
Mikel Arteta is said to admire Abraham, and it is Arsenal’s intention to bring in a new striker, so this deal may make sense between the two London rivals.
He played 32 times in total last season, scoring 12 goals, but was largely forced to settle for a bit-part role behind Timo Werner.
And with Chelsea on the hunt for another frontman this summer, namely Erling Haaland, it truly appears time for Abraham to move on.
Having grown up supporting Arsenal and idolising Thierry Henry, Arsenal may even be the perfect place for Abraham to kick on and flourish.
Abraham has drastically fallen down the pecking order at Chelsea since Tuchel was appointed
KURT ZOUMA (DEFENDER, 26)
Since Tuchel arrived in January, centre back Kurt Zouma has made just 13 appearances in all competitions.
He joined the club in 2014, but has now entered the last two years of his contract and could leave this summer.
Antonio Rudiger has been largely favoured over team-mate Zouma over the last several months, and regular game time appears unlikely for the latter.
Sportsmail reported recently that Zouma may be included in some form of swap deal for Sevilla stalwart Jules Kounde, handing him a ready-made exit.
His departure would leave Chelsea supporters with mixed feelings in light of his fine stint there, but his days do look numbered.
Kurt Zouma could be at risk of leaving this summer with a swap deal with Sevilla on the cards
EMERSON PALMIERI (DEFENDER, 26)
New Napoli boss Luciano Spalletti had barely settled into his new role before hinting he may look to sign left back Emerson Palmieri from Chelsea.
Emerson is another player failing to get a look in at Stamford Bridge, and failed to make a single Premier League start last season.
The simple fact for him is that both Ben Chilwell and Marcos Alonso are fancied ahead of him by Tuchel, so a transfer away will be the best route to more football.
Despite having joined Chelsea from Roma around three years ago, Emerson has never been able to establish himself as a key player in west London.
As a result, it would be of little surprise to see him jump ship over the coming weeks and his performances for Italy at Euro 2020 will have done him no harm at all.
Emerson Palmieri has found first-team football hard to come by since joining Chelsea in 2018
KEPA ARRIZABALAGA (GOALKEEPER, 26)
Goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga is another to have tumbled down the pecking order at Chelsea last season, both under Frank Lampard and Tuchel.
His patchy form led to the club recruiting Edouard Mendy from Rennes, and he quickly became the new No 1 choice between the sticks.
Arrizabalaga may still have a role to play, albeit more so in cup competitions, but he has unsurprisingly been linked with a switch away due to his limited chances.
In fact, the Spain international made just 14 appearances for Chelsea in the 2020-21 campaign, summing up his struggles over the last year or so.
Lazio and boss Maurizio Sarri are reportedly looking to bring Arrizabalaga over to Italy on one-year loan, in what would be a surprise considering their fallout in 2019.
Goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga fell behind Edouard Mendy in the squad after several mistakes
MARCOS ALONSO (DEFENDER, 30)
Left back Marcos Alonso played just 17 matches in total for Chelsea last season, scoring two goals after marauding down that flank.
He has, however, been forced to play second fiddle to Chilwell, but has impressed for the club when called upon by Tuchel.
His current situation is an improvement from his days under predecessor Lampard, who largely kept Alonso out of his plans altogether.
That has now changed slightly, but a move away for the 30-year-old may very well depend on whether he is content to simply remain as a back-up.
Last month, it was reported that Barcelona have reignited that interest in Alonso, and that move would represent another enticing adventure for him.
Marcos Alonso typically acts as an understudy to Ben Chilwell and may want more minutes
ROSS BARKLEY (MIDFIELDER, 27)
It may not quite be all over for Ross Barkley at Chelsea, but he certainly faces an uphill task to wrestle his way back into Tuchel’s plans.
Barkley, 27, was shipped out on loan to Aston Villa by Lampard last season, and he score three goals in 24 appearances there.
His start at Villa Park was very bright indeed, but quickly supporters grew frustrated with a string of below-par performances.
He has played 86 times for Chelsea altogether but, with two years left on his deal, this summer is shaping up to be absolutely pivotal for him.
There is no shortage of creative players in Tuchel’s current squad, and as the club actively go on the hunt for more, Barkley could find himself moving on again.
Ross Barkley had a mixed loan spell at Aston Villa last year and is fighting for his Chelsea future
RUBEN LOFTUS-CHEEK (MIDFIELDER, 25)
He may have come out fighting in pre-season with a cryptic Instagram post, but even Ruben Loftus-Cheek can’t deny that his future is shrouded in confusion.
The midfielder is running out of time to justify keeping his first-team spot at Chelsea, and the demands for brilliance have now been taken up a notch under Tuchel.
Any players who fall under that threshold will likely be shown the door, and Loftus-Cheek, who spent last season on loan at Fulham, is now battling away to stay.
It was a mixed stay at Craven Cottage for the 25-year-old, with Fulham having been relegated while his influences over the team waned.
Loftus-Cheek cannot be counted as a young player with time on their side, either, meaning that if a move does materialise it will likely be a permanent one.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek is another midfielder struggling to break into Tuchel’s plans for next year
MICHY BATSHUAYI (STRIKER, 27)
After joining Chelsea in 2016, Michy Batshuayi has only made 77 appearances for the club, and this summer will likely see him leave for good.
He has been overlooked by a number of managers at Stamford Bridge, including Antonio Conte, Maurizio Sarri, Lampard and more recently Tuchel.
Batshuayi spent last season on loan at Crystal Palace, but failed to stake a claim to play more for Chelsea after netting just two goals in 18 league games.
That stint was his fourth away in the last five years, and he may now wind down the rest of his contract in Turkey, if recent reports are to be believed.
It has been claimed by publications based in Turkey that Trabzonspor have Batshuayi on their radar and are willing to end his nightmare at Chelsea.
Michy Batshuayi might very well end his Chelsea contract in Turkey in another loan spell away
TIEMOUE BAKAYOKO (MIDFIELDER, 26)
How Tiemoue Bakayoko’s career at Chelsea has drastically collapsed into a travesty is truly one of football’s great mysteries.
He moved from Monaco for £40million back in 2017, and his formidable presence in midfield, as well as his ability to break from box to box, set him in good stead.
But, bizarrely and inexplicably, his time with Chelsea failed to take off. A loan move back to Monaco followed, and he has been kept away ever since.
Bakayoko will be able to walk away for nothing next summer, which would mark the final chapter of a nightmarish piece of business.
It may therefore make sense for Chelsea to offload him now for a fee, but the question is whether any clubs will be open to taking a leap into the unknown.
Tiemoue Bakayoko spent last season with Napoli after his Chelsea career came crashing down
DANNY DRINKWATER (MIDFIELDER, 31)
The sight of Danny Drinkwater lining up for Chelsea in their pre-season friendly against Bournemouth on Tuesday left supporters lost for words.
Was he simply filling in the numbers with several first-team regulars set to return? Or was this a surprise recall from Tuchel as he looks ahead to the new campaign?
If we’re honest, it’s much more likely to be the former. Drinkwater is well down the pecking order and, at 31, there is no more room for progression.
Jorginho, N’Golo Kante, Mason Mount and Mateo Kovacic have tended to be the four mainstays for the club under Tuchel, and Drinkwater would not dislodge any of them.
Nevertheless, the outcast is now back training with Chelsea, and he appears to be reluctant to give up hope of a shock comeback, even with the odds against him.
Danny Drinkwater was a shock name on Chelsea’s team-sheet for their clash at Bournemouth