Gary Cahill's future at Chelsea has been thrown into doubt with club officials setting themselves on a collision course with the centre-back, according to the Times.
The club have been negotiating a contract extension with Cahill since 2014 but they have yet to reach a resolution. As his contract does not expire for another 18 months, there is no immediate concern, but the mood will change dramatically if talks continue past December 19.
That is the day Cahill will turn 30 and Chelsea have warned their star player that he will fall under a controversial club policy if he has not signed a new deal by then. That policy dictates that players over 30 will only be offered one-year deals and the Blues plan to enforce it on Cahill even though negotiations have been active since he was 28.
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But Cahill still has several seasons at the top left in him and is of the opinion that he is worth one more long-term contract. As a result, he could choose to force his way out of Chelsea next summer if another team is willing to offer him what Jose Mourinho is not.
The situation is further complicated by the emergence of Kurt Zouma, who has threatened to take a regular starting spot from either Cahill or John Terry. Naturally, Cahill still has ambitions that require a guaranteed spot in the first-team and that is something a number of top clubs could offer him.
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The policy has seen top first-team players leave in the past. Didier Drogba is the most notable star to reject a one-year contract, instead choosing to leave on a free transfer following Chelsea's triumphant 2012 season. Michael Ballack also left the club under similar circumstances in 2012.
And there is an ongoing battle with Branislav Ivanovic. The Serbian is out of contract in the summer and has so far demanded more than a solitary season on any new deal.
He would be allowed to leave the club for free. On the back of his form so far this season, Chelsea fans may not be so concerned about that.
But Cahill is a key figure in the Chelsea dressing room and also counts towards the team's homegrown quota. Mourinho would be loath to lose him, especially to a Premier League rival.
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