Chelsea will see three Cobham products leave the club at the end of their contracts this summer.
The club have announced four players in addition to Antonio Rudiger will depart the club at the end of their contract after the Blues submitted their list of released players to the Premier League. Andreas Christensen, Danny Drinkwater, Jake Clarke-Salter and Charly Musonda will also depart the club.
Christensen had been widely expected to depart the club after no progress agreeing a new deal over the course of the season, while Drinkwater and Musonda had already announced that they would be departing Stamford Bridge. Clarke-Salter spent the season on loan at Coventry City and will now look for a new club.
Denmark international Christensen arrived at Stamford Bridge in the summer of 2012 from Danish side Brondby and spent two years in the club’s academy before earning first-team minutes under Jose Mourinho during the 2014/15 campaign. He then moved to Borussia Monchengladbach on a two-season loan in which he established himself as one of the most promising centre-backs in Europe.
The Cobham product then returned to Chelsea in the summer of 2017 and was integrated into the first-team squad by Antonio Conte. Christensen went on to make 161 appearances for the Blues under five different head coaches, the last of which was Thomas Tuchel.
It was during the first six months of Tuchel’s tenure that Christensen blossomed into the defender many expected when he arrived at Chelsea. Used on the right or in the middle of a back three, he was a composed figure and showcased he was able to handle the most-physical forwards in the Premier League.
He didn’t start the 2021 Champions League final, however, with Thiago Silva was preferred. But in the first half, the Brazilian suffered an injury and Christensen was introduced. He produced a flawless performance to ensure Chelsea were crowned Champions of Europe for the second time.
Christensen’s departure comes after a 2021/22 campaign in which he missed several matches due to illness, including the FA Cup final against Liverpool. “Andreas came in the morning of the match to speak to me and tell me that he’s not ready to play the match, not to start or be on the bench,” explained Tuchel shortly after the Blues were beaten on penalties by Liverpool.
“He had his reasons, they stay private and confidential. But it was not the first time as you can see over the last weeks that we had some of the same situations. That’s why he did not play so regularly in the last times. We thought we were in a good progression and development, but the conversation took place, we had to respect it and we of course respected it. It was very short notice now before the cup final, and not only this match, other matches in the other weeks.”
Christensen is expected to join Barcelona on a free transfer this summer, although the Catalan giants are not currently able to register him in their squad for the 2022/23 season due to La Liga’s salary cap rules.
Drinkwater endured a more frustrating tenure at Stamford Bridge and struggled to break into the first team following his £35 million move. The former Leicester star announced he would be leaving the club in May and provided an honest assessment of his time with the Blues after spending 2021/22 on loan at Reading.
He said: “I’m going to look at positives over the past 5 years, I have played with great players, coached by awesome managers, worked with some brilliant staff, met some fantastic people, lived in some beautiful places, travelled the world and won some more silverware. Footballs a fantastic sport but this for both parties was a business move gone wrong, it’s as black and white as that.”
Likewise, Musonda had also taken to social media to say his farewells to supporters. The Belgian made seven first team appearances for the Blues after joining from Anderlecht a decade ago but saw injury problems delay his progress in recent years.
In a detailed statement, Musonda said: “Seems like yesterday I was arriving at Cobham, and that Chelsea Football Club welcomed me and my family to my new home, it has now been ten years since that day, and today as the season ends, that journey has come to an end.”
Cobham product Clarke-Salter brings an end to his time with the Blues after 16 years, having developed through Chelsea’s age groups. The 24-year-old enjoyed a successful loan with Coventry last season having spent time at Bristol Rovers, Sunderland, Vitesse and Birmingham in previous years.
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