As reported by the Telegraph's Matt Law this morning, Chelsea have decided to give Álvaro Morata and Tiémoué Bakayoko more time to settle at the club, to adapt to the demands of the Premier League, and try to live up to their prospects and respective transfer fees. Recent rumors linked both players with potential exits, back to Juventus and Monaco, respectively, just 12 months after arriving at Stamford Bridge.
While neither are as young as Antonio Conte would have us repeatedly believe during his press conferences, they certainly represent less seasoned options than the players they directly replaced last summer, Diego Costa and Nemanja Matic.
According to the report, the only scenario in which Chelsea would consider a transfer is if either of them explicitly asks for a move — but that’s fairly standard policy at the club these days. Chelsea tend not to put any obstacles in the way of players desiring to leave, understandably preferring to work with those who actually want to play for the club. Matic in fact is a great recent example. Conte successfully convinced him to stay two years ago, but was unable to do so last year. Thus, the midfielder who was supposed to help mentor and guide Bakayoko (i.e. his own eventual replacement), decided to just go ahead and leave already.
That said, Chelsea are said to be “optimistic” that the two will perform more consistently next season and have no intention of making any rash decisions, acknowledging past mistakes regarding Salah or De Bruyne as cautionary tales.
While Morata's been linked with a move back to Juventus, Bakayoko seems to be an option at Monaco, only one year after joining from the Ligue 1 side. Monaco president Vadim Vasilyev recently took a quiz in which he was asked whether he’d prefer Bakayoko to stay at Chelsea or return to Monaco, the Russian owner answering with the latter. This reply was enough for some media outlets to take up the story, though obviously it was just a false choice to manufacture a story.
At this point, Bakayoko putting in such a request seems unlikely. Morata, on the other hand, has mentioned on several occasions that he could imagine returning to his former side for whom he played from 2014 to 2016, the Italian giants also expressing an interest in re-acquiring him. Regardless, Chelsea are said to entertain the hope that this will not pose an immediate problem believing that Morata's initial difficulties will “iron themselves out” and see him as part of the plan for next season.
Realistically, there's very little chance that Morata or Bakayoko are sold this summer. In addition to not wanting to repeat past aforementioned past mistakes, the upcoming transfer window is likely to bring plenty of upheaval elsewhere as Chelsea continue the latest 'rebuilding' process, for which those two are meant to serve as foundations already.
There are still big questions marks over two of Chelsea's most important players in Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois, not to mention question marks over the head coach and the backroom management structure (anyone for director of football?). The far shorter window, which ends before the start of the new season but won’t begin in earnest until after the World Cup, means that all this business will have to be done in about a month. Priority will surely be given to these issues, rather than trying to replace assets to whom the Blues already committed upwards of £100m in transfer fees alone.
Either way, it’s going to a quick, exciting, and possibly the silliest of silly seasons yet, as the World Cup and short transfer window will ensure a highly entertaining summer for all.