Premier League • England

Mauricio Pochettino exit: Seven Chelsea players also fighting for their futures at Stamford Bridge

Mauricio Pochettino, Raheem Sterling and Conor Gallagher

Pochettino has left Chelsea, but which players could follow him out too?

For the second season running, Chelsea failed to meet expectations, which has led to Mauricio Pochettino mutually agreeing to leave the club after just one year.

Last season, Chelsea sacked both Thomas Tuchel and his replacement Graham Potter in a turbulent season that culminated in a bottom-half finish under the caretaker guidance of Frank Lampard despite record-breaking investment in the transfer market.

Pochettino was handed the reins over the summer in an effort to usher in a new era for Chelsea, but once again, they struggled to reach their targets, eventually finishing sixth.

It spelled the end for Pochettino, but various players could now be worrying if their futures are at risk too ahead of the transfer window.

Chelsea already know that Thiago Silva will be leaving at the end of his contract, but who else has been fighting for their future and still faces uncertainty?

Conor Gallagher

Pochettino promoted Conor Gallagher to third in command in Chelsea’s captaincy hierarchy, using him in all of the club’s matches apart from one he was suspended for.

Indeed, Gallagher was the most-used player of the Pochettino era at Chelsea, but that never stopped the head coach’s superiors thinking about selling him.

As an academy graduate, Chelsea would make pure profit by cashing in on Gallagher, who has been heavily linked with Tottenham Hotspur.

The midfielder has dug his heels in with his intention to stay and do exactly what this article is about – fight for his place – but since he is approaching the final year of his contract, questions are still being asked about his long-term credentials at Chelsea.

You wonder what level he would have needed to go to in order to stop Chelsea thinking about selling him, but he will be a player to watch over the next few months.

Mykhaylo Mudryk

Chelsea spent an awful lot of money to bring Mykhaylo Mudryk to the club from Shakhtar Donetsk in January 2023, but he has failed to deliver on his price tag.

The winger has only scored seven goals from his first 58 appearances for Chelsea, missing plenty of chances to add to that tally and generally being ineffective.

Pochettino was a believer in Mudryk’s ability, but was also not oblivious about where he needs to improve.

In a press conference before a defeat to Wolves in February, Pochettino explained: “Now he is on the bench.

“Look, it’s about the form during the season – if you keep your form and you are the best during every training session. As coaching staff, we are a meritocracy – we are going to play with the players who are going to do their best on the pitch.

“I think he’s a young guy that arrived here one year ago. We know the circumstances around [the transfer]. Of course, he needs to improve. He has amazing quality and potential, but it’s a [team] game, it’s not tennis.

“We have players that need to perform in a group. If you see him, it’s amazing, but after, you need to adapt and play for the team – he needs to adapt, and all of that needs time.”

Mudryk will have to hope Chelsea give him that time, but you wonder how long they can afford to be patient with someone who cost so much.

Trevoh Chalobah

Like Gallagher, Chelsea were open to offloading Trevoh Chalobah in January, as TEAMtalk constantly reported – and that remains the case ahead of the summer.

Only getting to play 17 times under Pochettino due to injury issues, the defender finds himself below Levi Colwill, Axel Disasi, Benoit Badiashile and Wesley Fofana (when all are fit) in Chelsea’s hierarchy.

There were even doubts about the futures of former Monaco pair Disasi and Badiashile before January, before such speculation was played down.

They have long-term contracts at Chelsea, and while Chalobah does too, it could be the academy product who is ultimately sacrificed.

TEAMtalk has revealed that Fulham could offer him a chance to stay in London.

Reece James

Another player whose involvement under Pochettino was limited due to injury is club captain Reece James.

On his day, the England international is one of the best players in his position in the Premier League, but physical problems have prevented his progress in recent years.

For that reason, it is not unfeasible that Chelsea could look kindly at any offers they receive for the right-back.

James has been linked with Manchester City before and Chelsea might have to carefully consider potential bids for James if he doesn’t become consistently available.

In his case, what he is fighting to prove is not his ability, but his physical reliability, which has been a source of major frustration for him and led to him being left out of England’s squad for Euro 2024.

Marc Cucurella

It has been a topsy-turvy timeline for Marc Cucurella at Chelsea recently.

His first season at the club after impressing with Brighton before was underwhelming and there were rumours he could have gone on loan to Manchester United in the summer, which never came to pass.

Cucurella began to gain some more confidence in the early months of the season, before rumours about a move elsewhere sprung up again ahead of January.

There was nothing to it again, but Cucurella was then sent to the sidelines again due to injury.

After he recovered, he managed to pick up some momentum, but that may have only heightened speculation about other clubs being interested in him.

Noni Madueke

18 months have passed since Noni Madueke became a Chelsea player, but like fellow winger Mudryk, he has struggled to match the hype in that time.

Before the January transfer window, TEAMtalk was told that Chelsea would be willing to sacrifice Madueke if it meant they could reinvest in a star striker.

Finding that elite centre-forward remains on their agenda ahead of the summer window, so Madueke – who has scored nine goals from 46 Chelsea appearances – will have to hope he is still in their plans.

The 22-year-old is still a young player with potential, but Chelsea arguably need more immediate answers in their current predicament.

Raheem Sterling

When Raheem Sterling left Manchester City in 2022, Chelsea proceeded to make him the first senior signing of the Todd Boehly era.

However, Sterling went on to return his lowest goalscoring season since 2012-13, when he was just breaking through at Liverpool – and only bettered it by one in Pochettino’s season in charge.

At the age of 29, there is pressure on Sterling to show he is not past his prime.

He was noticeably booed off by some Chelsea fans when Pochettino replaced him with Mudryk against Wolves in February.

There isn’t a great deal of panic since Sterling’s contract still lasts until 2027, but Chelsea need him to rediscover his form from his Man City days and prove he can stand out in a different environment.

If he can’t, they might be wondering if he is the answer for them.

READ MORE: FIVE players Chelsea must build around after Pochettino exit as manager is confirmed