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Chelsea exit rumors: Thibaut Courtois, Asmir Begović, John Obi Mikel

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Here are a few stories that have fallen through the cracks over the past day or so, all involving potential exits for Chelsea players.

Let's start with one that is a regular tradition this time of year: John Obi Mikel leaving for a big(ger) paycheck somewhere else.  In year's past, this was Turkey or sometimes Italy, but the last couple transfer windows, it's been China.  And so it is once again.  According to the Evening Standard, Mikel is "weighing up his options" for a summer move to China, where he has at least three suitors all willing to pay him "far more" than his current salary.

Mikel's contract expires after next season, and while there's been a few rumors of Chelsea looking to offer an extension, Mikel's agent has stated that no decision will be made until after the season.  Perhaps the Chelsea veteran is indeed considering his future, especially with yet another new coach coming in (and hopefully with a few midfield reinforcements like Nainggolan or, dare we dream, Paul Pogba).

The other two rumors also come from the Evening Standard and concern our two goalkeepers, both of whom have recently been linked with moves away from the club.  Courtois, supposedly a long-term target of Real Madrid is not exactly the most popular figure at the moment, but that hasn't deterred Chelsea from apparently slapping a massive £73m fee on his head, double the world record fee paid for goalkeepers.

Courtois's backup, Asmir Begović has also been linked with a quick exit — even though he played the vast majority of the first half of the season — with the likes of Everton possibly interested.  But it would appear that Begović might just stick around a bit longer, perhaps spurred on by the cloudy futures of just about everybody else on the squad, including the other goalkeepers.

"(Moving to Chelsea) wasn't as simple as being No1 or No2 — I felt I needed a new challenge."

"Certain things were put in place, conversations sounded good to me and I wanted to be part of a great club and help the team win trophies. It hasn't gone as planned, but hopefully that will change and the future will look a bit brighter."

-Asmir Begović; source: Evening Standard

For me, losing any of the three, but especially young Courtois who has ridiculous amounts of promise despite his slight sophomore slump this season, would be a grave mistake.