Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has made it clear to Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto'o and Demba Ba that they are all free to leave this summer in search of regular first-team football.
Mourinho resisted the temptation to sign a new striker during the January transfer window, sticking by his strike trio and largely preferring Eto'o to Torres in big matches.
Eto'o has eight Premier League goals this season but Torres and Ba have managed just seven between them, with only wing wizard Eden Hazard reaching double figures in a title bid which is now dangerously close to falling short following successive away defeats to Aston Villa and Crystal Palace.
Mourinho is prepared to spend big on a new star striker this summer, making it clear in the aftermath of a 1-0 loss at Selhurst Park on Saturday that Torres, Ba and Eto'o will have to settle for a back-up role next season or go elsewhere.
He told The Guardian: "What's the future for the other strikers? The ones who are staying are competing with the striker we are bringing [in]. And normally, at the end of the season, players that are not playing a lot or players who are not happy may prefer a change.
"That is also part of the market. We want to improve the team and the players and make some surgical movements in the transfer window."
Torres in particular may hear Mourinho's latest comments and decide the time is right to find a fresh challenge, with the Spanish forward's spell at Stamford Bridge largely viewed as a massive disappointment.
Signed for £50m from Liverpool in January 2011, Torres arrived with a reputation as a proven Premier League predator, but has failed to hit double figures in any of his three seasons with the Blues.
Ba meanwhile is already actively pursuing a summer switch, failing to figure in Mourinho's plans despite not being allowed to go out on loan in successive transfer windows.
Chelsea fans will hope Mourinho's plans will see one of Europe's top forwards arrive to take on the mantle of leading their attack next season, with Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa consistently mentioned as a top transfer target.
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