A trio of Chelsea contract rebels fear they will be left in limbo as Roman Abramovich attempts to sell the club, with the latest developments increasing their chances of leaving.
The Russian oligarch – who is facing calls to be sanctioned by the UK government – confirmed on Wednesday that he has put the west London club up for sale and is actively looking for a buyer.
Although Abramovich ideally wants to offload Chelsea as quickly as possible, if negotiations drag on it could impact the futures of several key players.
Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen and Cesar Azpilicueta are all out of contract at the end of the season and can leave on free transfers in the summer.
According to The Telegraph, that trio are fearful of what the ramifications will be if Abramovich sells Chelsea while their contract renewals will have dropped down the club’s list of priorities.
Even if Abramovich agrees a quick sale, there are suggestions that the change in ownership could bring a different model for recruitment – and a smaller wage bill.
Rudiger, for example, has been asking for a bumper pay rise worth in excess of £200,000-a-week, as well as a big signing-on fee, but the new owners may be even more unwilling to bow to his demands than the current regime.
For now all three players insist they are only focused on performing for Chelsea, though Abramovich’s decision to sell the club has undoubtedly changed the landscape.
Rudiger has a host of clubs looking to sign him, including Manchester United, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, but has been open to staying at Stamford Bridge and was due to make a final decision in the summer.
Likewise, Azpilicueta is wanted by Barcelona but has yet to decide if he will return to La Liga, while Christensen is believed to be the player closest to agreeing a free transfer with Barca again the club leading the race.
The change of ownership will bring significant uncertainty both in the dressing room and board room over the coming weeks and months, while there have also been claims that rival clubs could be reluctant to do business with Chelsea.