Chelsea manager Antonio Conte is reportedly prepared to have a four-man clear-out at Stamford Bridge with Cesc Fabregas, Oscar, Branislav Ivanovic and Mikel John Obi the players likely to make way.
According to the Telegraph’s Matt Law, Conte wants to make way for three new reinforcements—in defence, midfield and up front—over the next two transfer windows to further shape his squad.
Ivanovic and Mikel’s deals run out at the end of the season, so they could either be allowed to leave then for free or perhaps sold cheaply in January if the Blues decide to cash in on them.
Fabregas and Oscar are each contracted until 2019, however.
The former has made just four Premier League appearances this season, prompting much speculation over his future. Phil Cadden of the Sun on Sunday reported he could be a target for Manchester City, while Simon Johnson of the Evening Standard added AC Milan to his list of suitors.
Law reported Fabregas is hoping to remain at Stamford Bridge and get back in the team, but as he’s playing so little, the club believe his wages are "unjustifiable," per the Times’ Matt Hughes (h/t the Sun’s Sam Morgan).
Bleacher Report UK’s Garry Hayes took issue with Chelsea’s reasoning:
If it is the case, just shows how clubs in general can get things horribly wrong. If they don’t want to pay the salary, don’t offer it.
— Garry Hayes (@garryhayes) November 1, 2016
However, the £160,000 weekly wage he picks up will have been offered on the basis of him being a key player starting every game—his salary becomes a more considerable investment when the return is only 87 minutes of Premier League football.
The 29-year-old is still a fine player whose passing and creativity in the final third can be a real asset. As Squawka Football revealed, Fabregas isn’t a midfielder simply content to pass the ball sideways:
Most completed forward passes in the Premier League over the last 3 seasons:
C. Fàbregas (2,996)
A. Williams (2,618) pic.twitter.com/P7vdjsMJY9
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) November 13, 2016
As for Oscar, Chelsea are prepared to hear offers for him and that could see Suning Commerce Group—who own Chinese Super League side Jiangsu Suning and Inter Milan—pursue him again after failing to prise him away from Stamford Bridge last January.
According to Law, Suning could offer him the choice of Inter or China depending on which he finds more amenable.
Oscar’s former Blues team-mate, Ramires, signed for Jiangsu in January—the duo are represented by the same agents, who maintain a "close relationship" with the Chinese company.
Both Fabregas and Oscar have struggled for game time since Conte made the switch to a 3-4-3 formation, which makes use of two holding midfielders.
The pair could perhaps slot in further forward in support of Diego Costa, but those roles are currently occupied by Eden Hazard and Pedro, while Willian might also hope to play there if Victor Moses maintains his place on the right flank.
With the Blues playing fewer games this season due to their lack of European involvement and their exit from the EFL Cup, there will likely be few opportunities for either to impress prior to the January window.
Unless they’re able to get on the pitch during the busy Christmas period and offer a timely reminder of their abilities, their respective Chelsea careers may soon by at an end.