A string of high-profile players are running down the final few months of their Chelsea contracts, but there’s one freebie-in-the-making who the Blues must strive to keep if they aim to succeed next season.
Ashley Cole, John Terry and Frank Lampard are among the names free to discuss terms with whomever they wish following the conclusion of this campaign, but none of this decorated trio should be tied down before reserve goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer has inked a new deal.
The aged net-minder signed on at Stamford Bridge for a single season following his release from neighbouring Fulham and the drastic demise of the Cottagers in the aftermath paints a portentous picture of the forthcoming campaign for Jose Mourinho’s men should they axe the Aussie.
Schwarzer will be on bench-warming duty for Chelsea’s Champions League first-leg against Paris Saint-Germain this week, a game they’re available at a tasty 11/4 to win.
The ramifications of allowing the 41-year-old to leave have been disastrous for Fulham, who look destined for the drop this season after going down to a 3-1 defeat at Everton last time out.
A measly offering around the 1/10 mark says Felix Magath’s men will fall through the Premier League trapdoor, a feat suffered by Middlesbrough at the climax of the 2008/09 vintage having seen Schwarzer leave for nothing that pre-season.
Bradford, who Boro bought the keeper from midway through the 1997/98 campaign, flirted with relegation from the Championship following his departure, requiring a win on the final day to ensure survival.
Implying an equally miserable feat awaits Chelsea is obscene, but dropping out of the top-four, for example, would be a reasonable equivalent for a club of such financial stature.
Reports have surfaced that Mourinho is keen on Nottingham Forest’s young goalkeeper Karl Darlow, sounding the 23-year-old out as a potential understudy for Petr Cech, spelling the end of Schwarzer’s stint in the role.
Judging from this evidence the Portuguese would be best advised to revaluate this plan, lest Chelsea suffer like Fulham, Boro and Bradford have in the past.