From 26 down to 22 - Will it be Mata, Mikel, Ba or other who doesn't make the cut?

Juan Mata

After Jose Mourinho's statement that he wants a Chelsea squad of 22, we consider who won't make the cut.

I want a 22-player squad so if somebody comes, somebody leaves. Do we need to sell? No we don’t. Do we need to loan? Probably yes because I don’t like to work with big squads. I like to work with a small group of players, and I say 22 is a perfect number for our needs in different competitions.”

Those were the words of Jose Mourinho on Friday, and they got me thinking. If 22 is the perfect number, who won’t make the cut?

I cast an eye over Chelsea’s squad list and settled on 24 players you could currently call first-teamers. I then added Willian because, let’s face it, the deal is all-but-done. And finally I added a hypothetical 26th player. Let’s call him Wayne.

So by Mourinho’s own rationale that is four players over. And even if a new striker doesn’t arrive, three current members of the Blues’ first-team are about to say goodbye…either temporarily or for ever.

At first glance those players are likely to be Ryan Bertrand, Victor Moses and Demba Ba. And yet Bertrand has already rejected a move to Liverpool this summer, with his eyes firmly set on one day inheriting the left-back spot from Ashley Cole.

Given the number of games Chelsea will play this season – and with the risk of injury and suspension – I can’t see the 24-year-old bidding a temporary farewell.

I can’t say the same for Moses. And if a new striker does arrive, time is surely up for Ba.

And then there is John Obi Mikel – the most likely to leave as reports continue to link him with a move to Turkey.

So there is your three…hypothetically speaking.

And that would be it if I didn’t have a strong suspicion Mourinho will be successful in not just one of his plans A to C, but two of them. Even if Wayne Rooney doesn’t arrive this summer, a new striker is surely a must for a side who remain weak in that position.

Romelu Lukaku is destined to be a superstar, and he will play his part this season. But if Chelsea wish to compete with sides who can call on the likes of Sergio Aguero, Robin van Persie and Roberto Soldado, another new face will arrive, meaning another old face will depart.

Mourinho may have made it clear he had no intention of losing Mata, but as he said himself last week, “We all say no. But we lie.”

Perhaps he only meant in terms of the players he sought to bring in. But with Willian set to arrive, and with Eden Hazard, Oscar and Kevin De Bruyne having started the season so well, is there really still room for the Spaniard…even if there should be?

Do you agree that these are the men not to make the 22?  Or will the number mean nothing come the end of the transfer window?

images: © Ronnie Macdonald, © Wshjackson

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