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Todd Boehly is set to repeat Arsenal’s success with three ruthless Chelsea transfer decisions.

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Todd Boehly is set to repeat Arsenal's success with three ruthless Chelsea transfer decisions.

September 10, 2020. A transfer story is posted on Chelsea’s official website. The headline reads: “Michy Batshuayi has today agreed a one-year contract extension at Chelsea and joined Crystal Palace on loan for the 2020/21 campaign.”

August 18, 2021. A transfer story is posted on Chelsea’s official website. The headline reads: “Michy Batshuayi has today extended his contract at Chelsea until 2023 and joined Besiktas on loan for the season.”

July 2022. No Michy Batshuayi transfer story has been posted. Instead, the Belgian is part of the Chelsea first-team squad and has featured in all three of the club’s pre-season friendlies but does not appear to have a long-term future at Stamford Bridge. His contract expires at the end of the season.

Batshuayi is far from the only player in this situation at Stamford Bridge. Kenedy has also spent the summer – and the second half of last season – working under Thomas Tuchel but isn’t expected to be given minutes once the 2022/23 campaign gets underway. And, of course, Ross Barkley is still in the first-team building on a big contract that runs until next summer.

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It’s a problem of Chelsea’s own making. During the final years of the Roman Abramovich era, the club developed a holding pattern that saw unwanted players extend their contracts prior to loan moves being sanctioned. The idea was to protect a player’s value and to ensure the Blues didn’t lose out on a future transfer fee. The reality has proved somewhat different.

Rather than these players excel on loan, many have simply returned to Chelsea after a season away. The process has then been repeated and the end result has been the same. And that is why in the summer of 2022, Batshuayi, Kenedy and Barkley remain Chelsea players.

A change is required; new co-owner and interim sporting director Todd Boehly can ensure it happens. It may prove costly, they may be difficult cheques to write, but as Arsenal have proved over the past 18 months, it is better to take the short-term financial hit for the longer-term sporting benefit.

“When a player is 26-plus, big salary and he is not performing? He is killing you, that kind of player,” the Gunners technical director, Edu, explained during the club’s pre-season tour of the USA, which ended with Arsenal defeating Chelsea 4-0 in Orlando.

“You don’t have a valuation to sell the player. The player is comfortable — Arsenal, London, beautiful, everything is fantastic — and has a good salary. How do you move this player?”

He continued: “Try to avoid one more year with the problem inside, in the dressing room, expensive, not performing. Clean, take it out. Even, I am sorry, if you have to pay. To leave is better. Because that guy is sometimes also blocking someone.

“I know it hurts, I know it is strange when I go to the board and say, ‘Sometimes it’s better to pay a player to leave than maintain them.’ But I consider it an investment. Sometimes people say, ‘It’s expensive’. I say: ‘No, it’s an investment.’ But someone will pay if you sell? No, guys. If the player is above 26, 27 and not performing on a big salary, no chance.”

Tuchel has done his bit, rightly or wrongly, during pre-season to showcase the talents of Kenedy and Batshuayi. Barkley too before he suffered an injury while the squad was in Las Vegas. And if there is interest in any of the trio, Chelsea should do their utmost to sell.

If that doesn’t materialise during the final month of the transfer window, it’s down to Boehly and Clearlake Capital to take the hard decision, to break from the method of old. Tuchel would certainly benefit – there would be no need to keep fringe players content – and it would go a long way to developing a new culture at Chelsea. One that doesn’t continue to reward mediocrity.

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