Juan Mata is the latest Manchester United player confirmed to be leaving Old Trafford this summer. The Spanish midfielder, who was bought from Chelsea in January 2014 to join David Moyes’ side, is only one of a flurry of senior names heading out for free at the expiry of their contracts.
Paul Pogba’s long-drawn-out goodbye was assured on Wednesday, Jesse Lingard too. Striker Edinson Cavani is also now a free agent after a second season featuring less minutes than his first. To United fans, this current exodus might not be the worst thing as Erik Ten Hag aims to rebuild a highly underperforming squad in his image.
However, the financial losses on Pogba, signed for £89million in 2016 leaving for nothing (for a second time), so too with Lingard who could have been sold in 2021 after an impressive loan with West Ham, further signals the muddled thinking at the top of the club.
Todd Boehly walks into a Chelsea squad under Thomas Tuchel suffering from recent departures of their own. Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen were already out for nothing after the club could not agree to a new deal with either defender.
Chelsea are not the only club concerned over major players running down contracts. Liverpool for all their success in the transfer market are sweating over Mohamed Salah, who despite seeming committed to Anfield for one more season, could still leave for free next summer, with reports emerging he would be open to remaining in the Premier League.
Tuchel and Boehly need to make a huge call this window over the futures of N’Golo Kante and Jorginho, two senior midfielders whose deals expire in 2023. Having another key area shrouded in uncertainty for another season would be frustrating. Even if a trend of big players seeing the benefit of pausing on new deals continues to grow, Chelsea under Boehly must adapt to make sure they stay on top of the squad.
In some cases, Chelsea will have to act more decisively with their squad, having to sell players sooner than they would like should it mean gaining a fee on someone you could lose for free. That would not only create new space in the squad to promote academy talent or use the freed-up wages to invest in new players but it would lessen the surgery needed in each window.
With both Rudiger and Christensen gone, the pressure on Chelsea to invest in at least one new defender increases. That could have an effect on the ability to strengthen other areas across the squad. When looking back at United, their workload this summer gets tougher, even if all of those names had naturally reached an endpoint with the club.
Part of how Boehly will be judged will be how he invests in the squad. But also how he sells and who he puts in place below him to correctly manage the squad and ensure another contract crisis does not unfold in the coming years.
Source by Football London