Homegrown Chelsea stars fear Champions League failure will lead to FFP chop

Chelsea's Conor Gallagher, Lewis Hall and Omari Hutchinson come on as substitutes - Homegrown Chelsea stars fear Champions League failure will lead to FFP chop - Action Images/John Sibley
Chelsea's Conor Gallagher, Lewis Hall and Omari Hutchinson come on as substitutes - Homegrown Chelsea stars fear Champions League failure will lead to FFP chop - Action Images/John Sibley

Chelsea’s homegrown stars fear the club will be forced to cash in on them if they fail to qualify for the Champions League to avoid further Financial Fair Play scrutiny.

Telegraph Sport has already reported on a planned clear-out at Stamford Bridge that started with Jorginho’s sale to Arsenal at the end of the January transfer window.

But some of Chelsea’s first-team academy graduates believe they will jump to the front of the queue of players the club look to sell if Graham Potter’s 10th-placed team miss out on Champions League qualification.

Experts believe Chelsea’s best way of assuring they avoid the threat of FFP consequences in such a scenario would be to sell academy products, who count as zero cost in Uefa’s calculations.

Uefa put Chelsea on an FFP watchlist of 19 clubs in September, but that did not stop the club taking their spending under the Todd Boehly-Clearlake Capital ownership over £600 million across the summer and January transfer windows.

Breaking the British record by spending just over £106 million on Enzo Fernández has put more scrutiny on Chelsea, amid fears the club will sail close to the wind over FFP even though they are unlikely to immediately breach Uefa’s rules.

Chelsea considered trying to sell the likes of Conor Gallagher and Ruben Loftus-Cheek in the January window, while other academy graduates such as Trevoh Chalobah could face a struggle for game time once all of the injured players return.

Mason Mount is yet to sign an extension on his contract that will have one year to run at the end of the season and offers are likely to be considered for Callum Hudson-Odoi once he returns from his loan at Bayer Leverkusen.

Despite spending so much money, Chelsea have demonstrated an ongoing to commitment to their homegrown academy players, signing Reece James to a long-term contract and promoting Lewis Hall to the first team.

While some of Chelsea’s homegrown players fear they could be sacrificed to meet FFP rules, the club are likely to look to offload the likes of Hakim Ziyech, who is back at Chelsea after his deadline day loan move to Paris Saint-Germain broke down, Christian Pulisic, César Azpiliceuta and possibly summer signings Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang and Kalidou Koulibaly.

Chelsea entertain Fulham on Friday night with the club 10 points behind fourth-placed Manchester United and face Borussia Dortmund in the last-16 of the Champions League on February 15.

The club have not given up hope of still qualifying for next season’s Champions League through either competition, but are aware that they will be under greater pressure to bring in additional revenue if they do not.

‘We need time to gel’

Asked if the club’s January signings could change Chelsea’s ambition for the remainder of the season, Potter said: “There is potential for that. That’s why we’re excited, but at the same time you also have to respect the fact that a team needs to come together, we need to gel, we need to work and go day-by-day.

“But certainly there is an excitement for that. We’re excited with the players we’ve added, excited for the players returning from injury and when you look at the group it’s a really strong, competitive group.”

Until the end of the season, Potter will have to manage a bloated squad. Chelsea’s website lists 31 first-team players, although that does not include Hall, who has started the club’s last four games, new signing Andrey Santos, who is waiting for a work permit, and Omari Hutchinson, who has made two first-team appearances this term.

“Of course, there are challenges when you’ve got that many players,” said Potter. “Of course, there are challenges in terms of what role they play because most players want to play. They want to play, be on the pitch and help the team.

“When they are not, it is a challenge and it is a challenge for lots of reasons at this football club. When you go through a period of transition and the steps we’ve gone through then there are going to be periods when it is going to be tougher than you ideally want – it’s not optimal. I am not complaining about it, it is what it is, and I have to do my best to help support and manage the club. Step-by-step I want to support the club, manage the club, and put the team in a better place than when I arrived.”

Chelsea were waiting for news on a work permit on Fernández on Thursday before deciding whether or not he could face Fulham, while Potter confirmed that James, Ben Chilwell and Raheem Sterling are back from injury.

Potter said Ziyech would be in the squad to face Fulham, saying: “He’s back in the country and he trained on Thursday. These stories won’t be the first or last, but he is a professional player and understands the situation. He is committed to us and is available for the squad for the game. He’ll be an important player for us for the rest of the season.”