Chelsea unconcerned by Willian absence, player flying back Tuesday – sources

Raphael Honigstein joins the FC panel to contextualize Chelsea’s rumoured interest in Christian Pulisic and predict how his immediate future will pan out.
Chelsea’s Maurizio Sarri believes Alvaro Morata showed he had improved dramatically since their match against Perth Glory after a fine display in their win over Inter Milan.
Paolo Di Canio believes Maurizio Sarri must improve his management of world class players, like Eden Hazard, to be successful at Chelsea.

Chelsea have no immediate concerns about Willian despite the Brazilian’s failure to report for preseason training on time, sources have told ESPN FC.

Willian was due to report at Cobham last Friday after enjoying a three-week holiday following Brazil’s elimination from the World Cup, but informed the club ahead of time that passport issues would delay his return.

Sources told ESPN Brasil that Willian had to renew his passport, but the issue is now resolved and he is due to fly back to London on Tuesday night while the rest of Chelsea’s squad travel to Dublin ahead of their second International Champions Cup match against Arsenal at the Aviva Stadium.

While the situation is far from ideal, Willian’s proactive communication is in stark contrast to the actions of Diego Costa last summer. Chelsea were unable to reach their unsettled striker for long periods as he refused to leave his home town of Lagarto in Brazil and pushed for a move to Atletico Madrid.

Willian has been linked with Barcelona and Real Madrid this summer, but the Catalan giants appear to have turned their attentions elsewhere after completing a £36.5 million deal for Bordeaux winger Malcom.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek is available for selection against Arsenal after deciding to cut short his post-World Cup holiday to begin preseason training on Monday.


Transfer news must-reads

– Transfer Talk LIVE: The very latest transfer rumours

Pochettino: Premier League deadline day is a disadvantage

Dortmund likely to sell Pulisic in 2019

Mourinho confident United will sign one more player

Maguire going nowhere this window – Puel

Done deals


Players are entitled to five weeks’ holiday throughout the year of which three weeks may be consecutive in the summer, and there are concerns that some are putting their physical health at risk by not giving themselves enough rest and recovery time after a long season and World Cup commitments.

Clause 14 of the standard players’ contract drawn up by the Professional Footballers’ Association in consultation with the Premier League and EFL states that clubs are not allowed to “unreasonably withhold permission” from a player wanting a break, but Chelsea insist it was Loftus-Cheek’s decision to return early in order to give himself a chance to be fully fit for the new season as well as an opportunity to impress Sarri.

Loftus-Cheek also enjoyed a week off between the end of the Premier League season with Crystal Palace and England’s training camp ahead of the World Cup, where he started three of their seven matches.

Chelsea are adamant that Loftus-Cheek is not for sale despite interest from a number of Premier League clubs, though there is an acceptance that he may have to leave on loan again if Sarri cannot offer him a significant first-team role.