Premier League • England

Chelsea exodus to see £316m worth of signings depart, with England ace’s ‘inevitable’ exit the most shocking of nine

Chelsea stars Reece James and Raheem Sterling

A Sky Sports panel declared no fewer than nine first-team players have no future at Chelsea, with a high profile England international and two homegrown stars among those tipped to depart.

Chelsea’s lavish spending over the last six months has swelled Graham Potter’s side to breaking point. It’s a luxury few managers possess, though inevitably, the Blues will have to trim the fat of their squad, not least to help with balancing the books.

Speaking on Sky Sports’ Soccer Saturday program, a pundit quintet consisting of Paul Merson, Sue Smith, Michael Dawson, Clinton Morrison and Tim Sherwood ran the rule over the Chelsea squad.

The former players were asked one by one if selected Chelsea players named by presenter Jeff Stelling had a future at Stamford Bridge. Of the 11 players mentioned, the panel tipped nine to depart.

Homegrown stars Conor Gallagher and Callum Hudson-Odoi were on the nine-man exit list. However, the other seven are all relatively recent signings who between them, cost a combined £316m in transfer fees.

Joining Gallagher and Hudson-Odoi in the panel’s out pile were Kalidou Koulibaly, N’Golo Kante, Hakim Ziyech, Christian Pulisic, Raheem Sterling, Romelu Lukaku and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Of that list, England international Sterling is perhaps the most surprising.

Many players were given a simple “no” when the pundits were posed the question ‘do they have a future at Chelsea?’

However, the pundits went into detail and explained their reasoning behind the Gallagher, Kante and Sterling calls.

Gallagher, Kante, Sterling exit calls explained

On Gallagher – who has heavily linked with Newcastle in January – Merson said: “Good player but I think they’ll sell him and I only say that because they’ll have to balance the books one way or another.

“He’s an asset where it’s a profit, so I can see him moving on.”

On N’Golo Kante who is out of contract at season’s end, Dawson added: “No, I don’t think he does [have a future at Chelsea].

“I think he’s been magnificent, we saw what he did at Leicester and Chelsea but I think it’s probably time for him to move on.”

Finally, Sherwood assessed £47.5m signing Raheem Sterling who would constitute the most surprising exit on the list.

Sherwood said when posed the future question: “No, I think Raheem still has a tremendous amount of value and there’s a lot of club’s who’d take him.

“It’s matching his wages that’ll be difficult. So if they’re going to offload him they’ll have to subsidise his money so he can go and play somewhere else.”

Sterling regrets joining Chelsea?

When asked if Sterling will secretly regret his decision to ditch Man City for Chelsea, Sherwood added: “Yes, in hindsight.

“When you actually leave a club like Man City and realise how great it is to play always in possession and always on the front foot, scoring goals, enjoying your day-to-day life there, it’s not just about matchdays.

“You have to produce every single day and that drive and what the manager has given you and then you end up at a club with a scattergun approach regarding transfers and collecting players by the numbers, new management, and still have no idea how you’re playing.

“He’s probably played most of his games at left wing-back. It doesn’t suit him, doesn’t play to his strengths and I think it’s inevitable he’ll leave.”

The only two players of the 11 mentioned who do have futures at Stamford Bridge, per the pundits, are Mateo Kovacic and Mason Mount.

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