Carney Chukwuemeka was conspicuously missing when Chelsea launched their new home kit for the 2023/24 Premier League season.
Notably, the club do not have a shirt sponsor for the new season, a move that has rekindled the memories of the 90's when the Blues won the UEFA Cup.
Chukwuemeka joined Chelsea in the summer of 2022 at only 18 years old. But despite being excited about the move, he made just 14 appearances in the 2022/23 season. The player turns 20 in October this year.
Could Carney Chukwuemeka be on his way out of Chelsea?
A lot has been said about Chukwuemeka since he joined Chelsea. And for a player who is highly rated at Stamford Bridge, according to sources, the Blues are said to be reluctant to sell their midfielder.
The recent 2023/23 season Chelsea kit launch where the 19-year midfielder was missing is already causing jitters among Chelsea diehards. Many would have wished to see Chukwuemeka wear the new Chelsea jersey but his absence seems to suggest he could be on his way out of the club.
Chelsea are reportedly willing to loan Chukwuemeka to gain more first-time experience elsewhere but without including a buy option.
Carney Chukwuemeka penned a six-year contract with Chelsea
Chukwuemeka put pen to paper in the 2022 summer transfer window, a deal that would see him stay at Stamford Bridge for six years. Fourteen appearances last season is a fairly good start but with the arrival of Mauricio Pochettino as the new Chelsea manager, uncertainty now hangs over the midfielder, especially regarding his future at the club.
The lack of play-time last season for the Super Eagles-eligible Chukwuemeka means the £20-million Chelsea signing could be on his way out, going by recent reports.
Chelsea are expected to offload at least 10 players this summer. The arrival of Pochettino ahead of the kit launch was timely because the Argentine tactician is expected to hit the ground running in making a raft of changes at Stamford Bridge.
Bringing in experienced players in the 2023 transfer window and improving the squad ahead of the new season are undoubtedly among his top priorities.
Chelsea finished 12th last season. Thus, with making the cut for Champions League football also among Pochenttino's priorities, the question is will Chukwuemeka gain the favour of the new Chelse manager.
Should Pochettino decide to keep the U-20 England international, it could mark the beginning of an exciting stay at Stamford Bridge.
How far is AC Milan's interest in Carney Chukwuemeka?
Before the onset of the 2023 summer transfer window, Chelsea were said to be considering loaning out Chukwuemeka.
The departure of midfielders Ngolo Kante and Ruben Loftus-Cheek must have come as a reprieve for Chukwuemeka, who would wish to make more first-team appearances in the 2023/24 season.
However, AC Milan has reportedly renewed their interest in Chukwuemeka, a player they wanted to buy from Aston Villa in 2022 but were outdone by Chelsea in a deal where the Blues presented a better bid.
Back then, AC Milan wanted to buy the 19-year for €15m but Chelsea's €24m won the race.
Chelsea are unwilling to include a buy option in any Chukwuemeka deal in as much as they are willing to give the player a loan spell.
Lack of buy-option would put off the Rosonneri in as much as the Italian giants are said to be planning talks transfer talks.
Chelsea aren't short of midfielders. Players like Ben Chilwell, Mykhaylo Mudryk, Christian Pulisic, and Enzo Fernandes are all at Pochettino's disposal, with rumours of more to come.
It means Chukwuemeka staying at Stamford Bridge will also come with cut-throat competition for midfield spots.
Recent remarks by the new Chelsea manager regarding Dele Alli mean the Argentine could be mulling a move for the 27-year-old former Tottenham midfielder.
Should Pochettino go for Dele Alli, it would further dim Chukwuemeka's hope of making more first-team appearances next season.
This article was most recently revised and updated 2 months ago