Chelsea currently have an excess of players in their first-team squad, meaning several will need to make way this summer.

The West London club had a difficult 2023-24 season and their dealings in the transfer window will need to be spot on if they are to return to the top of the Premier League table in the upcoming campaign.

The Chelsea Chronicle assess whether each of the Blues’ first-team players should be kept, loaned out or sold in the coming weeks.

What should Chelsea do with each first-team goalkeeper?

Djordje Petrovic of Chelsea celebrates his team's fourth goal scored by teammate Nicolas Jackson (not pictured) during the Premier League match bet...
Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

Robert Sanchez – Sell

Sanchez only signed for Chelsea last summer but his name should already be on the transfer list. Having become surplus to requirements at Brighton, the Spaniard was an odd signing for the Blues to make and one they must have been regretting since he lost his place in the starting lineup.

Djordje Petrovic – Keep

The man who replaced Sanchez in goal last season, Petrovic exceeded expectations in his debut campaign at Stamford Bridge. There are concerns that his distribution will not be good enough to succeed under new manager Enzo Maresca but he certainly deserves the opportunity to prove himself.

Marcus Bettinelli – Keep

32-year-old Bettinelli has only made one appearance for the Blues in two seasons, and he may never add to his tally. Though, his only significant contribution is helping to fill the homegrown player quota, that alone makes him worth keeping as a third-choice goalkeeper.

Kepa Arrizabalaga – Sell

There is no more obvious decision for the Blues to make this summer than to sell Arrizabalaga. His loan move to Real Madrid did not work out and it is now time for him to leave the West London club on a permanent deal. If Chelsea are able to recoup 20 per cent of the £72 million fee they paid for the 29-year-old in 2018, they will have worked wonders.

What should Chelsea do with each first-team defender?

Ben Chilwell of Chelsea during the Emirates FA Cup Quarter Final between Chelsea FC and Leicester City at Stamford Bridge on March 17, 2024 in Lond...
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Reece James – Keep

James is not only club captain but he is arguably the Blues’ best player. The 24-year-old’s only issue – albeit an almighty one – is that he cannot keep himself fit. He did undergo surgery to fix a recurring hamstring injury last season, though, so hopefully that will make a difference.

Malo Gusto – Keep

Gusto’s consistently good performances in the 2023-24 season meant that James was not so sorely missed as in previous campaigns. The Frenchman was usually defensively solid, while he also provided an impressive nine assists in all competitions from the right side of the defence.

Tosin Adarabioyo – Keep

Having been signed last week, Adarabioyo could be the least likely Chelsea player to leave this summer. He will spend preseason trying to prove to Maresca that he is capable of starting for the Blues week-in, week-out. And, should he earn a place in the Italian’s starting lineup, the ex-Fulham defender could go down as one of the bargains of the summer.

Axel Disasi – Sell

Disasi was decent for Chelsea in his debut season at Stamford Bridge, so selling him would certainly be a harsh decision. But, the Frenchman is probably the club’s sixth-best defender and, at 26 years of age, he is unlikely to improve. Very much a likeable character, many Blues fans would be sad to see him leave, though they will understand the team’s need to be cutthroat in their pursuit of excellence.

Levi Colwill – Keep

Colwill did not have as good of a 2023-24 campaign as he would have liked for two key reasons. The 21-year-old missed much of the season through injury and, of the games he did play, many of them were at left-back under Mauricio Pochettino. In his preferred centre-back position, Colwill can still have a huge future at the West London club.

Trevoh Chalobah – Keep

To Chelsea fans, Chalobah is the perfect squad player. To the Chelsea board, he is the ideal saleable asset. The 24-year-old has all the attributes of a top defender and it is only through a lack of opportunity that he is not already recognised as such. Just like Fikayo Tomori, Nathan Ake and Marc Guehi in years gone by, he will probably play his best football away from Stamford Bridge, and that is a real shame.

Wesley Fofana – Keep

Once expected to develop into a world-class defender, Chelsea would settle for Fofana becoming a decent squad player at this point. The £70m man has spent over two years on the sidelines due to various injuries in his short career. The sad reality is that his stock has fallen so much that there is no value in selling him this summer.

Benoit Badiashile – Keep

Badiashile arrived from Monaco 18 months ago and impressed in the second half of the 2022-23 campaign. The left-footed central defender lost his way a bit this season but there is definitely an excellent defender in there somewhere. Having only recently turned 23, he is one to reassess next summer.

Alfie Gilchrist – Loan

20-year-old academy graduate Gilchrist made 17 appearances for the Blues in all competitions this season, including five starts. Most of them were filling in at right-back, even though he prefers to play centrally, and yet he managed to with over most Blues supporters. However, the best decision for his career would be to spend next season on loan at a Championship club rather than staying as an emergency backup.

Ben Chilwell – Sell

Chilwell is Chelsea’s vice-captain and he was an integral part of the 2021 Champions League-winning team. The 27-year-old’s sale would raise eyebrows, but that is what the Blues should do before the transfer window shuts. The left-back’s regular injuries have been frustrating and his performances in between setbacks have been even more disappointing.

Marc Cucurella – Keep

Cucurella is lucky to be considered worth keeping. Under another manager, the former Brighton wing-back would also be on the transfer list, but his ability to play as an inverted full-back/wing-back means that he suits Maresca’s system. The Spaniard is as comfortable becoming a third central defender in possession as he is stepping into midfield alongside the ‘number six’.

Ian Maatsen – Sell

In contrast to Cucurella, Maatsen is unfortunate to be given the ‘sell’ tag. He was fantastic on loan at Borussia Dortmund, helping them to reach the Champions League final, and warrants an opportunity at Stamford Bridge, but his winger-like style just does not suit that of the Blues new manager. There is an argument to be made that he is worth holding on to as a different option but Chelsea need to sell players, and the Dutchman could return upwards of £30m.

What should Chelsea do with each first-team midfielder?

Enzo Fernandez of Chelsea during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Chelsea FC at Emirates Stadium on April 23, 2024 in London, Englan...
Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Moises Caicedo – Keep

Contrary to popular belief, Caicedo’s debut season at Chelsea was very good. Of course, he made some costly mistakes, but he was outstanding in several other games. He may have been labelled a ‘flop’ within weeks of signing for £115m but there is actually more chance that he goes down an all-time great than an all-time waste of money, such is his talent.

Romeo Lavia – Keep

Chelsea’s decision to sign Lavia for £58m in the same window as Caicedo can only be described as excessive. The Blues did not have to deal with this problem in 2023-24 because the Belgian could only manage 32 minutes of action, but there are question marks over how to find places for both in the team. If the Blues were not short of players in his position, a Premier League loan would have been a decent idea for the 20-year-old.

Lesley Ugochukwu – Loan

The chances are that Ugochukwu never reaches the standard of a Chelsea first-team player. The 20-year-old’s physicality and ball-winning is impressive, though he is quite limited with the ball at his feet. It makes sense to send him on loan, possibly to Ligue 1 sister club Strasbourg, and reevaluate in a year.

Enzo Fernandez – Keep

Fernandez was terrific in his first few months at Chelsea, showing why it cost £107m to prize him out of Benfica. He has not been able to build on that since, though he deserves the benefit of the doubt as he was playing through a hernia problem for much of this season. The 2022 World Cup winner should flourish under Maresca in the same role that Harry Winks excelled at for Leicester.

Conor Gallagher – Keep

Gallagher, similar to Chalobah, is a player that Chelsea will probably make the mistake of selling this summer. The Englishman falls short of the top players in the Premier League but his exemplary character makes up for most of his technical shortcomings. The 24-year-old loves the club, which you can tell by his passion and work rate, and selling him to Aston Villa or Tottenham, especially, would break Blues fans’ hearts.

Carney Chukwuemeka – Keep

Chukwuemeka’s long-term injury came at the worst possible time. The youngster played 81 minutes against Liverpool on the opening day of the 2023-24 Premier League season and followed that up with a great goal against West Ham in his next start. The attacking midfielder then spent four months on the sidelines and did not play more than 24 minutes in any other game. If Chukwuemeka can stay injury-free in the next campaign, he is one to watch in terms of a potential England call-up.

Cesare Casadei – Loan

Casadei is one of the Blues’ few first-team players with previous experience of working under Maresca. The 21-year-old played 25 times on loan with Leicester before Pochettino’s side made the ridiculous decision to recall him. Casadei did not make much of an impact at Stamford Bridge and needs another loan unless Maresca is a huge fan of his and wants to keep him around.

What should Chelsea do with each first-team forward?

Raheem Sterling of Chelsea during the Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on April 04, 2024 in London,...
Photo by Catherine Ivill – AMA/Getty Images

Cole Palmer – Keep

It is not an exaggeration to suggest that Palmer’s 2023-24 season was up there with the very best individual campaigns in Chelsea’s history. The only thing that holds him back in that debate is the team’s lack of success, though that was not at all his fault. 33 goal contributions in 33 league games is an exceptional return for a striker, let alone for a right-winger/attacking midfielder, and he will do extremely well to replicate that.

Christopher Nkunku – Keep

Nkunku’s injury troubles perfectly sum up Chelsea’s misfortune in that respect in recent seasons. The £52m signing of the France international was supposed to be as close to a guaranteed success as a transfer can be. Yet, the 26-year-old took to the pitch for little over 500 minutes in his debut campaign. He still scored three goals, though, which suggests that, if he can just stay fit, he will be an important player.

Noni Madueke – Keep

Chelsea’s attack is the area of most uncertainty in the squad, with many inconsistent players like Madueke. While the Blues scored plenty of goals this season, unlike in the previous campaign, there were still so many opportunities missed through a lack of cutting-edge. Madueke is part of the problem but the 22-year-old deserves at least one more year to prove himself.

Raheem Sterling – Sell

The key difference between Madueke and Sterling is their age – the former Manchester City winger is every bit as inconsistent as Madueke despite being seven years his senior. It is fair to say that the £47.5m signing has not worked out and Chelsea will be hoping that the wide man is now willing to go to the Saudi Pro League, as that could see them recoup most of the fee they outlaid two years ago.

Mykhailo Mudryk – Keep

Mudryk is one of the most perplexing footballers to grace the Premier League. Now and then, the Ukraine international will produce a moment of quality that leads people to believe that he can become a world-class player. Yet, most of the time, he goes missing in games and you cannot help but wonder what convinced Chelsea to pay an initial £62m for his signature, besides Arsenal’s interest. Next season is make-or-break for Mudryk.

Armando Broja – Sell

Broja is another of Chelsea’s players whose development has been scuppered by injury. He was never likely to become the Blues’ first-choice striker, but the Albanian’s loan spell at Southampton suggested that he would have a role to play for the West London club. However, a cruciate ligament tear in December of 2022 kept him out for almost a year and he now needs a fresh start.

Datro Fofana – Loan

Fofana struggled at Bundesliga club Union Berlin in the first half of the bygone campaign, but he showed signs of promise at Burley in the second. He scored four goals for Vincent Kompany’s poor Premier League side and definitely has significant potential. A full season on loan at a top-flight team would do Fofana a world of good.

Romelu Lukaku – Sell

In the strange case of Lukaku, he is more than capable of being part of Chelsea’s first-team squad yet they should not give any thought to the idea of reintegrating him. The Belgian inexplicably brought controversy to the West London club in his second chance there, and he does not warrant a third. He reportedly has a £32m release clause in his contract and the Blues would be thrilled if someone were to activate it.

Nicolas Jackson – Keep

Like Caicedo, Jackson’s debut season at Stamford Bridge was extremely underrated. He registered 14 goals and five assists in the Premier League and his all-round game was also impressive. The 22-year-old is quick, strong, willing to run the channels and able to bring others into play. Of course, it is a notable one, but the only issue with his game is his finishing.

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