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Is Yuri Zhirkov on his way out?

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Top football players want to play.  Yuri Zhirkov hasn't seen much time since joining Chelsea in the summer of 2009.  When asked about possibly returning to Russia to get back into regular first team action, Yuri had this to say:

"I do think about ­returning to Russia, but it will all depend upon how it goes at Stamford Bridge," he said. "Any footballer needs to be ­playing regularly in the first team. If I still do not have it at Chelsea, why not get back to Russia? To sit on the bench, even in such a great team, does not make sense."

It sounds like Zhirkov is a bit unhappy with his role, and bringing in Fernando Torres certainly won't help his situation.  An impending departure with the Russian international could help to explain the club's interest in Steven Pienaar, Dmitri Payet (whom we've bid 7 million pounds for), and Pedro Leon.

I like Zhirkov quite a bit, but his role with the team if we switch to a 4-4-2 is likely strictly as a reserve.  Florent Malouda fills the same niche, and Gael Kakuta is a much younger alternative.  There is also Yossi Benayoun next season.  I think it would make good sense for the club to cash in on either Zhirkov or Malouda this summer, as both are getting up there in years and they fill the same role.  Due to his age and history of injuries, I can see why many would prefer to sell Yuri.  Let's just hope he gets back to good health soon and makes this a very difficult decision for both the club and himself.

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