After a 2015-16 campaign that has seen Chelsea plummet to the status of a mid-table side, radical change is a necessity over the summer. It’s becoming increasingly clear that squad alterations will be needed ahead of 2016-17.
While marquee signings in the transfer window will contribute to this, removing the dead wood in the squad will also be necessary. The Blues must return to the strength in depth they had displayed in past seasons.
With Antonio Conte arriving over the summer, here are four players he should depose as the first steps in his impending squad overhaul:
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John Obi Mikel
The Nigerian has been a loyal servant to the club for a decade but at 29-years-old, he has run his course at Stamford Bridge. Mikel is now a shadow of the player he used to be and his cutting edge is fading.
Albeit a brief resurgence over winter and his unending effort, Chelsea’s future in the defensive midfield position looks destined to be with Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
Furthermore, if Conte wants to bring fast, flowing football to Stamford Bridge then Mikel would prove the antithesis. With just one league goal in 236 appearances also, he contributes very little to the club’s offensive endeavours.
Mikel still has a lot to give in the Premier League but it’s becoming increasingly apparent that he’s no longer at the level of Chelsea. The Blues need to be positive next season and the Nigerian screams the kind of defensive negativity the club wants to turn its back on.
For a club of the pedigree of Chelsea, aside from Diego Costa, they possess a shockingly inadequate strike force. While Radamel Falcao and Alexandre Pato should also depart, their loan statuses make such moves inevitable.
Remy on the other hand is contracted to the club and with just a solitary league goal this season far from warrants an extension.
The Frenchman is a lethal finisher on his day yet as a lone striker struggles to hold up the ball sufficiently. It’s in the best interests of both parties if the ex-QPR man turns his back on Stamford Bridge after a stale campaign.
The fact Remy has been demoted to fourth-choice striker, below even Bertrand Traore, exemplifies his decline. Conte can do much better and in selling Remy would be freeing up some much needed space in a congested squad.
In recent years, Oscar’s Chelsea career has simply fallen flat. Despite having four seasons to prove himself, the Brazilian has failed to reach the hype that he attracted upon his arrival.
While the 24-year-old undoubtedly has his moments, he’s never truly nailed down a place in the west London side’s starting XI.
His inconsistency has been his undoing and albeit such an offensive position, he boasts just 21 league goals in 120 outings. With his Blues career seemingly heading in no particular direction, Oscar should move on.
It seems harsh to a player who always runs himself into the ground, but at times he is simply bullied in the Premier League. The Blues should turn to someone who can hold their own physically and consistency perform.
The English defender is another Chelsea player who has run his course at the club after four years in a Blue jersey.
With Conte’s arrival bringing with it links to youthful centre-backs such as Kostas Manolas, Cahill’s first-team place looks in jeopardy. While his experience could prove useful, his form has been patchy this season albeit the managerial switch.
Cahill is far from the swashbuckling defender that garnered prominent plaudits in his early Chelsea days. His extraordinary tally of game time last season seems to have drained him this year and it’s proven costly.
With much stronger alternatives on the shopping list, Cahill should bow out of Stamford Bridge before his reputation is tarnished. In addition, it is more than likely that a move will see him handed much more pitch time elsewhere.
Chelsea face a pivotal summer that could make or break their season beyond it. Although many of these stars have been loyal to the club, the Blues must focus on their own future and axe the stragglers. It’s cruel but necessary.
Who do you think Antonio Conte should sell this summer? Have YOUR say in the comment box below!