8 players that could leave Chelsea in January as Thomas Tuchel cuts squad

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Thomas Tuchel has enjoyed a fabulous first year in England with Chelsea.

When he arrived 10 months ago, he transformed a stuttering Blues side into one of the hardest teams to beat in Europe, almost overnight.

He then recorded victories over Liverpool, Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur, Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid as his revamped Chelsea side secured a top-four finish and won the Champions League in Lisbon.

And the German has taken them up another gear since then, moulding his squad into ruthless title contenders who find a way to win when they're not at their best.

But while the Blues have a hectic schedule ahead of them, Tuchel is likely to ship a few players out to make space for certain stars who have struggled for minutes.

So with that in mind, here are eight players who could leave Stamford Bridge in January.

Kepa Arrizabalaga

The most expensive goalkeeper in history has reacted remarkably well to playing second-fiddle to Edouard Mendy for the last year-and-a-half.

Sure, Mendy's form has been so good since he arrived from Rennes in 2020 that it's hard to imagine Tuchel dropping him, but Kepa was one of Europe's hottest prospects not too long ago, and it's unlikely he'll be happy to sit on the bench for much longer.

While there might be a million-and-one memes out there about Kepa being rubbish in goal, the 27-year-old is still a perfectly capable top-flight keeper, and if a decent side made a move for him in January, it'd be hard for him to say no.

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Antonio Rudiger

Antonio Rudiger has turned over a new leaf at Chelsea since Tuchel arrived and has grown into one of the club's most important players.

It's unlikely that Chelsea will want to let him leave in January, but with his contract set to run out at the end of the season, their hand could be forced.

The German defender says he has no intention of quitting Stamford Bridge, but everything rides on the next few months and how smooth contract negotiations go.

If Chelsea slip up, plenty of big European clubs will be lining up for Rudiger's signature.

Andreas Christensen

Andreas Christensen is in exactly the same position as Rudiger. His contract expires in June, and while he'd ideally like to stay in west London, Chelsea's next offer needs to be good enough to ensure that happens.

Like Rudiger, Christensen's form has improved dramatically over the past year or so, and the Danish defender played a starring role in his nation's run to the Euro 2020 semi-final last summer.

The 25-year-old appears to finally be fulfilling his potential at Stamford Bridge, but rumours linking the club to Sevilla centre-back Jules Kounde and Juventus defender Matthijs de Ligt continues to cast doubt over Christensen's long-term future at Chelsea.

Malang Sarr

Malang Sarr was the most understated arrival from Chelsea's £250 million transfer splurge in the summer of 2020.

The young Frenchman was loaned out to Porto last season, but failed to make a lasting impact, featuring just 19 times for the Portuguese outfit.

Since returning to England, the 22-year-old defender has failed to properly challenge for a first-team place, particularly since the emergence of Trevoh Chalobah.

Loan moves to France, Germany and Italy all fell through during the summer, but will likely be revisited in January given Sarr's notable lack of playing time so far this campaign.

Saul Niguez

Saul's loan spell from Atletico Madrid has been nothing short of an unmitigated disaster.

While battling the likes of N'Golo Kante, Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic for a space in a two-man midfield is no easy task, more was expected from the Spaniard who not too long ago was linked with mega-money moves to Man United, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid.

The midfielder has played just five times for the Blues since joining, and very much set the tone on his debut with a tepid display against Aston Villa where he was hooked at half-time.

Tuchel's lack of trust in the 26-year-old is all too apparent, and after falling behind Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Ross Barkley in the pecking order, few expect Saul to still be in west London come February.

Ross Barkley

Few people expected Ross Barkley to still be a Chelsea player at this point but the former Everton man has earned more minutes than the aforementioned Saul.

The 27-year-old enjoyed a fruitful loan spell with Aston Villa last season before an unfortunate injury stalled his momentum.

Competition for places is at an all-time high and Barkley will likely have to leave if he wants first-team football any time soon.

Hakim Ziyech

The Moroccan international arrived at Chelsea with such promise, having starred in the Ajax side that reached the 2019 Champions League semi-final.

Despite showing glimpses of brilliance over the past 18 months, Ziyech has struggled to nail down a first-team spot since Tuchel arrived, and rumours of an exit have been circulating for months.

Whether his direct style quite suits Tuchel's counter-attacking system is up for debate, and two poorly-timed injuries really haven't helped, but for whatever reason, it just hasn't worked for Ziyech at Chelsea yet, and time is running out for that to change.

Christian Pulisic

Like Ziyech, Pulisic has arguably been a victim of Chelsea's formation change since Frank Lampard was sacked.

The team longer plays with traditional 'wingers', and the American has had to adapt to inside-forward and wing-back roles since Tuchel took over, and has been struggling for consistency ever since.

There are also concerns on Chelsea's end that Pulisic's persistent injury problems are unlikely to dissipate, so no matter how talented the 23-year-old might be, it could be worth cashing in on him if the price is right.

  • Champions League
  • Chelsea FC
  • Thomas Tuchel
  • Premier League

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