Chelsea must look to retain the services of Willian, Pedro and Olivier Giroud this summer, with one pundit telling boss Frank Lampard to take a leaf out of Manchester United’s book over the trio.
A TEAMtalk exclusive earlier this month claimed Tottenham were ready to offer Giroud a multiple year deal to quit Chelsea at the end of the season, while manager Jose Mourinho also has a long-standing interest in Brazil winger Willian.
However, Spurs won’t be alone in their pursuit for either player, with Barcelona and Juventus said to be tracking former Shakhtar Donetsk man Willian, while Giroud has admirers in Italy in the shape of Inter Milan and Lazio.
Pedro, meanwhile, also falls out of contract this summer and was quoted recently as saying his time was up at the club.
However, former Blues midfielder turned pundit Joe Cole can still see a role for the trio at Stamford Bridge and believes boss Frank Lampard should look to keep them on and ensure, like Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes at Man Utd, they help smooth the next generation’s path into the first team.
He told The Sun: “Rightly so, we’ve credited the young players at Chelsea because they’ve come through, burst onto the scene and been amazing.
“But Giroud, Willian and Pedro are three top class players who have been really massive for the club, particularly Willian, who’s a club legend, the players and the fans love him.
“I hope they can hang onto that experience – if they want to be part of this new, exciting team that they’re building.
“They can use that experience in the same way that Manchester United hung onto Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Gary and Phil Neville.
“If they can accept that role where they’re coming in – that they might not play as much as they used to but they’re helping blood an era which could be as good as any era in the club’s history – then there’s a role to play for all of them.
“I think they’re all world class players and it would be tough for any club to replace those three.”
Willian admits he could look to leave Chelsea
Sadly for Cole and Chelsea, Willian looks resigned to moving to moving on when the transfer window opens and, speaking to Fox Sports’ Expediente Futebol show earlier this month, he admitted it is ‘unlikely’ he’ll be at Stamford Bridge next season.
“I’ve built something fantastic at Chelsea,” said the winger.
“I’m especially fond of the fans and the people that work there, and I’ve felt very settled.
“Everyone knows my contract is up in a few months and it looks like it’ll be difficult to secure an extension. I think it’s unlikely that I’ll renew, because Chelsea offered me a two-year deal, I asked for three and it ended there.
“There were no more talks or negotiations. Chelsea said that three years would be impossible, so at the moment it seems unlikely that I’ll extend, but nothing is impossible.
“We don’t know what might happen. We might suddenly reach an agreement, but what I can say today is that my contract is up and I’ll be free to negotiate with any club.
“At the moment I’m not thinking about going back to Brazil and my aim is to stay in Europe,” Willian added.
“I think there’s still scope for me to do that in the current market and continue playing at the top level for a few more years – my target is to remain in Europe.”
A surprise switch to London rivals Tottenham to link back up with Mourinho has been touted, though Willian admitted that despite there being “plenty of speculation, there’s not been anything concrete”.
“The last negotiations that I had were with Chelsea. The only offer for me from Barcelona was in 2018 after the World Cup. Chelsea didn’t accept that year as they didn’t want to sell me.”