Maurizio Sarri has relaxed his Chelsea predecessor Antonio Conte’s rules on diet and nutrition as well as the stipulation that players had to stay together in a hotel the night before home games, hoping to give them greater freedom as he whittles his squad down to a more manageable size.
The new Chelsea manager has abandoned the practice of the squad staying together at the Chelsea Harbour hotel on nights before they have an evening game at Stamford Bridge the following day, a measure that was introduced by Conte and was unpopular with many of the players. They are now free to stay at home and join up with their team-mates on matchday instead.
Sarri has also permitted a wider choice of food in the training ground canteen and also in hotels when they are away from home to try to create a better atmosphere than that which existed in the previous ten months. Conte was very strict on nutrition, with relatively little choice for the players, and while Sarri also feels that there are gains in that area for any coach, his priority is to get the squad in the right frame of mind.
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The new manager recognises that there will be difficult decisions made and with such a big squad there will be some left on the periphery but has tried to make it as relaxed as possible for his players as they approach another major stylistic change.
Sarri is making decisions on trimming down his first team squad in order that it will be manageable week-to-week, the latest departure being midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko, signed from Monaco for £40 million last summer, who departed on loan to AC Milan. Others expected to leave the club before the Aug 31 deadline include Tammy Abraham and Charly Musonda.
It has been a chastening 12 months at Stamford Bridge for Bakayoko who came in as part of the Monaco team that won the French league title and departs having struggled to make a lasting impression during the turbulent second season of Conte.
Abraham and Musonda are both candidates for loans to the Championship or potentially overseas, with Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion interested in the young English striker who had an indifferent time at Swansea City last season. The 20-year-old cost Swansea a substantial loan fee last season, and now it looks that Abraham will have to return to the Championship where he had a successful year with Bristol City in 2016-2017.
Musonda, 21, poses more of a problem with his stay at Celtic last season proving unsuccessful and his development having stalled over the last year. He has a long term contract until 2022 and is young enough that the club still see plenty of potential but now have to plot a path for him to realise that.
The midfielder Danny Drinkwater is available although unless there is a club in Europe prepared to take the midfielder the likelihood is that he will stay at Chelsea. There was interest from Crystal Palace when the window was still open for Premier League clubs although now the likelihood is that Drinkwater will stay at Chelsea.
His wages are likely to be too expensive for an overseas clubs to take him on. Over recent seasons, Chelsea have asked for significant loan fees for senior players with Drinkwater’s asking price for a loan judged to be prohibitive by other Premier League clubs.
Bakayoko is expected to leave on a permanent deal at the end of the season if his time at Milan is a success with a fee already agreed between the two clubs. Chelsea have opted to keep Ruben Loftus-Cheek for now with the player having been keen to stay and the domestic window having shut. The England World Cup player may yet change his mind about staying this season but he will have to go overseas if he is to take the loan option.
Callum Hudson- Odoi, Ethan Ampadu and fourth-choice Polish goalkeeper Marcin Bulka are expected to divide their time between the first team and the development squads.