Gary Cahill’s departure set to begin exodus at Chelsea

Chelsea captain Gary Cahill is considering bringing his six-year career at Stamford Bridge to an end this month as the club close in on a £44.2million deal for Daniele Rugani. Belgium duo Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois have already indicated in post-World Cup interviews that they are looking to leave. But it is understood Cahill is also thinking about departing, having become unsettled last season. The England centre-back, who joined from Bolton for £7m in January 2012 and has won six major trophies with the club, lost his place as a first team regular last term. Former coach Antonio Conte preferred Antonio Rudiger in Cahill’s position on the left-side in the second half of the season and the vastly-experienced 32-year-old was left on the bench for some of Chelsea’s biggest games, including both legs of their last-16 Champions League tie against Barcelona. Cahill vented his frustration in April, telling Standard Sport: “It’s been tough. It has been hard having to sit out massive games, watching us fall by the wayside and not being able to have a huge impact on that. “People can argue that as captain you can still have an impact in the dressing room, but it’s difficult when you’re not playing in those big games.” With results deteriorating, Conte recalled Cahill near the end of the campaign and he helped Chelsea win the FA Cup in May. Cahill is now on holiday, having been away with England in Russia for the past month, but it is believed he will seek talks with new coach Maurizio Sarri on his return. Who is Chelsea’s new manager MaurizioSarri? Sarri may have a tough job convincing him to stay. Cahill has told close friends that he wants assurances that he will feature more regularly than last season, when Conte gave him just 24 Premier League starts. That could be an issue, though, given Chelsea are already closing in on the signing of Juventus and Italy defender Rugani. The club also have a strong interest in Newcastle captain Jamaal Lascelles, giving the indication the Stamford Bridge backline could be freshened up with more than one acquisition. Sarri prefers to play with a back four, rather than the back three employed under Conte, meaning competition for centre-back places is bound to increase. The club still have their Brazil international David Luiz to call upon, while Spain full-back Cesar Azpilicueta has been converted into a right-sided centre-half over the past two seasons. Cahill has only one year left on his contract and if Chelsea consider giving him a new deal, it would only be a 12-month extension, due to their policy regarding players over 30. The club’s main priority, though, will be resolving the futures of Hazard and Courtois, who have two years and one year left on their deals respectively. Moving on? ThibautCourtois and Eden Hazard could leave Stamford Bridge (AFP/Getty Images) Hazard repeated his comments about leaving Chelsea to Standard Sport on Saturday night, following Belgium’s 2-0 win over England in the World Cup third-place play-off. When asked if he would be at Stamford Bridge next season, he replied: “I don’t know, to be fair. I spent six years with Chelsea, I played a fantastic World Cup and maybe it is time to change something. It is not my decision. The club will decide. Now I just want to go on holidays and we will see what happens.” Chelsea do not want to sell their prized asset and will still try to convince him to sign a new deal worth £300,000 a week. Real Madrid are interested but their first-choice targets are either Neymar or Kylian Mbappe from Paris Saint-Germain. Courtois’ situation is even more pressing as Chelsea would not want to run the risk of losing him on a free transfer next year. Real are hoping to exploit that situation, while the Blues have earmarked Brazil’s Roma goalkeeper Alisson as a potential replacement. The transfer window closes three weeks this Thursday and despite the positive arrival of Jorginho from Napoli for £57m, Sarri is already facing a tough task to keep three title winners’ in his squad.