Since the days of Chelsea greats John Terry and Frank Lampard leaving Stamford Bridge, England players and future prospects have found it hard to get into the Blues’ first team.
As Premier League heavyweights who feature prominently in the betting on a top-four finish at 6/5 most seasons, their scouting network scours the globe to find the best talent in world football. That has often come at the expense of homegrown players, but Chelsea are not alone in that among the elite.
Progression from the academy into the senior squad and becoming a regular is one particular problem area, so which England players – and some for the future – need to seriously think about leaving the Bridge this summer?
Relative veteran Cahill needs move
Blues centre-back Gary Cahill has been a tremendous servant, winning every major honour going, including the UEFA Champions League, since arriving in West London midway through the 2011-12 season. He is 33 now, however, and out of contract at the end of the season.
Chelsea only give one-year contracts to players over 30 and Cahill has been on the fringes under Maurizio Sarri, who is a strong 1/6 favourite in the Premier League sack race. A change of tactics during the former Napoli manager’s time in charge from a wing-back system to four defenders has also limited the starting places available to centre-halves.
At his age, Cahill needs to be playing regularly and, given his impressive CV, won’t be short of offers at home and possibly abroad. David Luiz’s deal with the Blues is also up this summer, so they could lose two senior defenders in the same transfer window.
While the former Brazil international has played regularly during Sarri’s tenure, Cahill is behind Antonio Rudiger in the Chelsea pecking order. The Blues also have Denmark international Andreas Christensen and Spain’s Cesar Azpiliceuta who can play at centre back on their books.
Bayern still betting favourites to sign Hudson-Odoi
A new trend among English youngsters of going to play in the German Bundesliga has arisen. Teenage winger Callum Hudson-Odoi has seen the likes of Jadon Sancho stealing the show for Borussia Dortmund and has attracted similar interest from Bayern Munich in his services.
The Blues stood firm against their overtures in the January transfer window, however, and Hudson-Odoi remains at the Bridge for now. While he’s had plenty of action in the Europa League – a competition which Chelsea are 4/1 betting favourites to win again after previous success in 2013 – his Premier League career is yet to take off.
Not only is Hudson-Odoi yet to start a league game but he has not even completed a full half. He’s also seen the Blues buy Christian Pulisic from Borussia Dortmund for next season and could be forgiven for wondering if the American talent will block his own path to progress.
Throwing his lot in with Bayern, who are rebuilding their wide options due to the imminent departure of long-serving duo Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben, looks a better prospect. They are favourites to sign Hudson-Odoi at 4/1 and using the best site for free bets for a punt on his next club could prove a smart decision.
Drinkwater frozen out completely
Midfielder Drinkwater has gone from Premier League winning hero at Leicester City to frozen out completely at Chelsea. Having bought France anchor man N’Golo Kante from the Foxes following their amazing against all odds title triumph, the Blues also thought to add his engine room partner.
The pair have seldom played together since, however, which doesn’t make much sense given that was the likely intention. It simply hasn’t worked out for Drinkwater at the Bridge and it’s plain he needs to rebuild his career elsewhere.
West London neighbours Fulham did show rumoured interest in taking him to Craven Cottage but nothing ever really materialised despite former Chelsea and Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri taking over there before Christmas. Perhaps a relegation battle at Craven Cottage, with Fulham as short as 1/14 to go down didn’t appeal,
Drinkwater has found competition for a spot in central midfield somewhat cut-throat. Including Cesc Fabregas, who was sold to Monaco in January, he has been competing with the likes of the Spain centurion, Real Madrid loanee Mateo Kovacic, summer signing and Sarri favourite Jorginho, and Ross Barkley for a berth.
Loftus-Cheek requires regular football to flourish
Another Blues academy product Loftus-Cheek, like Hudson-Odoi, has done his best to take what chances of first-team football have come his way. He hit a hat-trick in a Europa League group stage game but was back on the bench for the next domestic game.
That sent a clear message about where the England midfielder, who showed flashes of potential on loan at Crystal Palace last season and at the World Cup in Russia, lies in the pecking order. Loftus-Cheek, to his credit, came off the bench against Burnley and score again, but he’s still had to content himself with being in and out.
He’s played a full match just once in the Premier League this season. Loftus-Cheek has got more minutes in Europe in half the games and is often restricted to league cameos in the final quarter of matches. If he’s to fulfil his potential and be an England regular, then a permanent move may be needed.
Making the tough decision to leave a big club in search of regular first-team football is a gamble. Loftus-Cheek is 23 now though and has scored Premier League goals for both Chelsea and Palace. His future is of great potential interest to the national game with Euro 2020 looming on the horizon.