Chelsea stars Billy Gilmour and Ross Barkley are among those facing an unclear first-team future after being left off the club’s squad number list for the upcoming season.
The midfield duo, full internationals for Scotland and England, were joined by Ethan Ampadu, Kenedy, and Michy Batshuayi in missing out.
Gilmour was loaned to Norwich last season after being an unused substitute in the 2021 Champions League final. Chelsea’s contract with the 21-year-old was subsequently extended in June of this year until the end of the 2023-24 season.
His and Barkley’s first-team prospects, at least in the short future, appear grim. That became even clearer when the Blues signed young midfielder Carney Chukwuemeka this week, handing the England Under-19 international the No30 shirt.
Conor Gallagher’s return from a successful loan spell at Crystal Palace means he leaps the midfield queue at Stamford Bridge, taking the No23 jersey.
Ampadu, 21, has been a peripheral figure in Chelsea’s first-team plans in recent seasons, having spent time on loan with RB Leipzig, Sheffield United, and Venezia.
With Wales qualifying for the World Cup in Qatar 2022, ending a 64-year wait, Ampadu will be looking for first-team involvement before November, which does not appear to be the case at Chelsea.
Belgium striker Michy Batshuayi will want to play frequently before the tournament, with both he and Kenedy aiming to leave on loan before the transfer window ends on September 1.
Highly rated centre-back Levi Colwill was also left off the list, which was released on Thursday, despite reports that he could be part of a deal to move Marc Cucurella from Brighton to Chelsea.
It was already known that new signings Raheem Sterling and Kalidou Koulibaly will take Nos. 17 and 26, respectively, and that both are expected to be key members of Thomas Tuchel’s squad.
Albanian striker Armando Broja returns from a loan spell at Southampton, with the No9 shirt still unclaimed after Romelu Lukaku was loaned to Inter Milan.
Tuchel’s team kick up their Premier League campaign on Saturday against Blues legend Frank Lampard’s Everton.