Chelsea co-controlling owners Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital face growing discontent from players who have major concerns over the club’s direction.
Former Bayern Munich head coach Julian Naglesmann is emerging as the Blues’ preferred option to replace current interim head coach Frank Lampard at the helm for next season – although the club insist their hunt for a new boss remains an open process with no final decisions made on their No 1 candidate.
Moving forward, the club’s next manager faces the difficult task of convincing a group of players, who have grown increasingly unhappy at Chelsea in recent weeks, about the direction the club is headed under the Boehly and Clearlake regime.
Having spent £600million on new signings in the previous two transfer windows there was optimism that the new American regime could replicate the success achieved under Abramovich.
But a disastrous season has left a number of squad members privately questioning their futures at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea were dumped out of the Champions League after a 2-0 defeat by Real Madrid
First team stars are starting to get frustrated over owner Todd Boehly’s running of the club
The Blues are on their worst run in 30 years with interim boss Frank Lampard after four losses
Indeed, Chelsea are set to sanction a squad cull this summer as they look to comply with squad restrictions and Financial Fair Play regulations following their huge outlay on new players since last summer.
In addition to concerns from players about the club’s future, a number of squad members are apprehensive about their first-team chances next season owing to Chelsea’s bloated squad.
The club face missing out on playing European football altogether next season given their lowly Premier League position meaning there will be even fewer opportunities.
Chelsea’s January recruitment business left them with a huge squad of over 30 players leaving many players – worth millions of pounds – completely out in the cold on match-days.
The west London club already have Christopher Nkunku, Malo Gusto and, subject to a work permit, Andrey Santos due to link-up with the squad in the summer while a number of players returning from loans even before any new signings are made.
Boehly came underfire this week as it emerged he addressed the players in the Blues dressing room following last weekend’s loss to Brighton; making a speech in which he is said to have described the club’s season as embarrassing.
And Mail Sport has learned that in a operate visit on January 15, Boehly welcomed £88million signing Mykhailo Mudryk – and his team of advisors – into the team dressing room on the day Chelsea defeated Crystal Palace.
Well-placed sources have indicated the visit took place prior to kick-off when the team was preparing for the game.
Mykhailo Mudryk was unveiled on the day Chelsea played Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge
But Blues stars were stunned when the forward’s entourage was allowed in the changing room
The purpose of the visit was to introduce the squad – who were managed by Graham Potter at the time – to Mudryk, who was unveiled as a Chelsea player on the Stamford Bridge pitch that afternoon.
But along with Mudryk and Boehly, a number of other individuals – understood to be part of the Ukraine forward’s entourage – were also provided access into the team’s inner sanctum.
The changing room area is widely viewed as a sacred place for players, particularly prior to kick-off when they are mentally preparing for matches, with strict rules over who is allowed into the space on match-days.
The culture in American sports is different where those private areas can be much more welcoming; on many occasions written journalists are even allowed access into the dressing rooms.
Nevertheless, certain players and staff were taken aback when Boehly, Mudryk and his advisors were permitted entry into the dressing room on the day of the Palace game.
Boehly once again entered the dressing room following Tuesday night’s 2-0 Champions League defeat by Real Madrid.
But this time he only spent around 10 minutes with the team and didn’t speak collectively to the group.
Naglesmann is understood to have significant support within the Chelsea hierarchy having held face-to-face talks with Blues officials last week.
Boehly has already sacked two managers this season as he seeks a new appointment
Chelsea are looking at Julian Nagelsmann (right) to replace the sacked Graham Potter (left)
Further talks between the German coach and Chelsea are likely to take place soon, however Luis Enrique – who has also been contacted about the vacancy – is now viewed as an outsider for the role.
Mauricio Pochettino is also contender, but Naglesmann has made a strong case to be named next Chelsea boss ahead of next season.
Chelsea’s failure to qualify for next season’s Champions League will cost players millions in wages as the club face growing disillusionment within their squad.
The Blues’ elimination from this season’s competition at the hands of Real Madrid on Tuesday night means the two times winners will miss out on playing in European football’s elite club tournament for the 2023-24 campaign.
And the prospect of missing out on Champions League football will see a host of players sacrifice vast sums of money.
Upon their arrival last year co-controlling owners Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital implemented a bonus structure to player contracts linked to Champions League qualification that would see their wages fluctuate depending on whether they were playing in the competition.
It was a significant move away from the ownership era of Roman Abramovich, who only rewarded players for winning trophies.
Mail Sport understands the club’s most recent signings, or those who have agreed new contracts, will see their earning power slashed by at least 30 percent. Sources have indicated that figure could be as high as 50 percent.
Enzo Fernandez could be among the Chelsea stars hit by wage reductions this summer
It is unclear whether the variable wage scheme will be enforced immediately once Champions League football disappears or if players will be given a grace period.
The decision to enforce an incentivised salary structure was designed to motivate players – but it also provides Chelsea with a degree of protection against the financial shortfall incurred by the failure to qualify for the hugely lucrative Champions League.
In contrast, however, those who signed contracts during the Abramovich era and have not renewed since will continue to be paid their full salaries.
Chelsea have signed 12 senior players on permanent contracts since the Boehly-Clearlake takeover, while seven existing squad members have signed fresh terms since Abramovich’s departure.