On Wednesday, the Evening Standard reported that Nathaniel Chalobah is set for crunch talks next week regarding his future at Chelsea. With just a year left on his contract, assurances of playing time are being sought before agreeing to a new five-year deal.
All quite reasonable from the 22-year-old, especially in light of some of Chelsea’s recent moves in the transfer market, both in terms of young players leaving and big-money signings coming in — though for Chalobah, the situation may be a fair bit better than for Aké, especially if Bakayoko’s arrival does signal Matić’s departure.
In any case, those mild rumors have morphed into hot-n-heavy exit rumors in the subsequent 48 hours. The Independent got us started with some journalist speculation.
Chelsea to offer Nathaniel Chalobah a new contract, but I expect him to say no and be sold this summer. My piece: https://t.co/WyfrBuugXR— Jack Pitt-Brooke (@JackPittBrooke) June 30, 2017
Nizaar brought in some cold, hard numbers, adding to Chalobah’s concerns (demands?) about playing time. Chalobah apparently wants the new contract to be on par with Loftus-Cheek and Abraham, both either already on or set to be on £50-60k per week. So not exactly cheap, but still not all that unreasonable, especially as a Chelsea first-team player.
Chalobah Chelsea future in doubt as contract talks stall https://t.co/GqJQejhYRv pic.twitter.com/ZRTOCgcuTP— Goal.com CA edition (@GoalCDA) June 30, 2017
And it escalated from there. Contract talks that haven’t even started turned into panic-inducing ultimatums and suddenly some interest from Watford popped up as well (joining Torino FC in that regard). Chalobah spent some time with Watford many seasons ago — it was his first professional loan in fact — but it sounds like they’d be more than happy to welcome him back. Of course they would, there’s every chance Chalobah will turn into a very good Premier League midfielder.
Does that mean Chalobah is any more likely to leave today or tomorrow than he was yesterday and last week? Probably not. Aké left because he saw Chelsea actively courting a big-money signing in his position without any of the already established starters leaving, and with the current gem of the academy Andreas Christensen returning. Bournemouth’s role in paying a substantial fee and making Aké feel like a star certainly played a role as well. At the end of the day, that was business and if Chalobah leaves, that will be just business as well — there are far more prospects in the system than available spots in the first-team, even before we consider the extra-windy pathway to the first-team at Chelsea.
For now however, all we know is that there are talks coming. Whether they will end in joy or angst ... well, we’ll find out soon enough.