The Daily Star have whipped up a transfer storm at Stamford Bridge after Chelsea's official store refused to print replica shirts for either Thibaut Courtois or Romelu Lukaku.
Both players have been linked with exits from the club over the course of the summer and continue to be so. Lukaku is facing a permanent exit after failing to convince Jose Mourinho of his ability while Courtois could be loaned out again because of Petr Cech's continued presence as first choice goalkeeper.
The Chelsea store told The Daily Star reporters that they could not print the shirts because the players have not yet been issued with squad numbers for the forthcoming season. Fair enough, story over. But looking at the Chelsea website, it remains unclear as to why they have not been given squad numbers.
New signings Felipe Luis, Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa all have numbers, as do Kurt Zouma and Cech. The list of players who have not been given numbers shows a who's who of Chelsea rejects with Victor Moses, Ryan Bertrand and Oriol Romeu all failing to confirm their numbers.
Put Courtois and Lukaku onto that list and it becomes clear that their futures at Stamford Bridge are far from secure.
Since Mourinho rejoined Chelsea last summer few would argue that he does not have a vendetta against the young Belgian striker. Lukaku has had two fine seasons on loan with West Brom and Everton, but still can not find a place in Mourinho's plans. In fact Didier Drogba has been re-signed to add firepower, suggesting Lukaku is being ignored by the Special One.
Everton are obviously keen to sign him permanently but the likes of Real Madrid and Tottenham are also rumoured to be lurking around. Wherever he goes, Lukaku is likely to generate significant cash for Chelsea.
For Courtois, a permanent exit is less than likely. The shot stopper has thoroughly impressed during his three seasons with Atletico Madrid and it appears Mourinho sees him as the future of Chelsea. But with Cech still firmly Chelsea's first choice goalkeeper, a fourth successive loan spell beckons.
Cech has already confirmed he is happy to stay and fight for a place while Courtois has remained quiet. The youngster won't enjoy sitting on the bench when he could be off in Europe further refining his immense talent.
Mourinho may well decide to retain the goalkeeper, but with just two years left on his current deal it will pay to keep Courtois happy.
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