5 Chelsea players who could be heading for a Stamford Bridge exit

The wheeling and dealing before the transfer window closes will have a major impact on the Premier League betting odds , with little to...

The wheeling and dealing before the transfer window closes will have a major impact on the Premier League betting odds, with little to separate the top six clubs in the market for the 2016/17 English Premier League title as things stand.

There’s plenty of speculation as to incoming transfers under new Chelsea manager Antonio Conte, but the Italian is also going to have to trim his squad to make room for new recruits.

So who could be heading a Stamford Bridge exit?

Diego Costa

Diego Costa had an excellent start to his Chelsea career, but there was a noticeable dip in form before the end of his initial season at Stamford Bridge.  Always somewhat combustible, last season Costa’s disciplinary issues often overshadowed his performance.

It does appear that Costa was (along with many of his team mates) unhappy at the club last term and with Conte seemingly in the market for a top class new striker (or two), it would appear that the Spanish international could be surplus to requirements.

With Costa’s former boss Diego Simeone opting to stay at Atletico Madrid, a reunion at the Vicente Calderon is a definite possibility.

Branislav Ivanovic

Branislav Ivanovic is now 32 and struggled for form much of last season.  The Serbian international has the versatility to play at right-back or in central defence, but isn’t really suited to playing as a wing-back in what would appear to be Conte’s preferred system.

With only a year left on his contract, Conte might deem it worth cashing-in now on one of Chelsea’s longest serving players, rather than keeping him for what would appear to be little more than a back-up role next season.

Abdul Baba Rahman

The Ghanaian 21-year-old left-back or wing-back Abdul Baba Rahman has only been at Stamford Bridge for one season since his big-money move from FC Augsburg, but his days could already be numbered.

Much could depend on where Conte intends to deploy the versatile Spain international Cesar Azpilicueta (himself rumoured to be a target for several clubs in La Liga).  Should Conte see Azpilicueta’s best position on the right-flank, then Baba Rahman could have a role in the Italian’s plans for the coming campaign.  Should Azpilicueta be used on the left, then Baba Rahman’s opportunities could be limited.  Lazio are reportedly keen on a deal.   

Juan Cuadrado

The Colombian international winger/wing-back Juan Cuadrado only made 13 appearances (of which just four were starts) after joining from Fiorentina on a big-money deal before he was shunted out on loan to Juventus last term.

Cuadrado’s future will largely depend on Conte’s plans.  It’s widely anticipated that the Italian will opt for a back-three with wing-backs, which could see Cuadrado deployed on the right-flank.  However, Conte could also use him as a bargaining tool if shopping for new recruits in Serie A.

Eden Hazard

PFA Player of the Year in 2014-15 and a major factor in Chelsea’s title-winning campaign, it would be a massive understatement to say that Eden Hazard had a season to forget last term.

Unlike some of his colleagues, the Belgium winger’s form didn’t really pick-up after Jose Mourinho’s departure and it appeared at times to be manoeuvring for an exit.

Hazard looked back to his best against Hungary at Euro 2016 and that will reignite interest in his services.  He would certainly fit the bill as a Galactico as far as Florentino Perez is concerned at Real Madrid and could be seen as a long-term successor to Cristiano Ronaldo, while Paris Saint-Germain could see him as the marquee replacement Zlatan Ibrahimovic.  

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