TODD BOEHLY faces a multi-million pound ‘divorce bill’ this summer as he bids to offload a raft of Chelsea players.
The club’s policy of paying some of the highest wages in football will make it difficult to persuade stars to move on if it means taking a pay cut.
USA winger Christian Pulisic is tipped to go at the end of this season when he will have 12 months left on his £150,000-a-week deal.
It is unlikely any interested clubs will match his £7.8million-a-year salary.
That will pressure Blues chairman Boehly to pay Pulisic to go or take a lower transfer fee.
It is the same situation with several other players. Callum Hudson-Odoi, on loan at Germans Bayer Leverkusen, has a year left on his contract and makes around £180,000 a week. Ruben Loftus-Cheek, on £150,000 a week, is also about to enter the final year of his deal.
Moroccan Hakim Ziyech is under contract until 2025 but is surplus to requirements, as are his £120,000-a-week wages.
First-choice keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga is another set to depart this summer and collects just under £200,000 a week.
He has two years left on his deal and cost Chelsea a world-record fee for a goalkeeper at £71.6m.
The biggest earner is striker Romelu Lukaku — on loan at Inter Milan — with two years left of a £325,000-a-week deal.
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Those six unwanted players’ contracts add up to a staggering £58.5M a year in wages.
Losses of £121m last year make it vital for Boehly to balance the books and keep the Financial Fair Play cops at bay.
The huge wages are referred to as the “Chelsea premium” by club insiders.
Chelsea have run up a bill that could reach £606m, including add-ons and loan fees, on new players since Boehly led an American takeover last spring.
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And boss Graham Potter now has a bloated 31-man squad, according to the club’s official website.
Potter’s team resume domestic action against Aston Villa following the international break, with Reece James fit again after withdrawing from the England squad with hamstring issues.
Midfielder Mason Mount is also ready but Raheem Sterling is being rested ahead of Tuesday’s game with Liverpool.
Potter said: “It is a big squad, a deep squad, a squad with a lot, a lot of players. It has been a challenge to manage them but it has not been a negative challenge from my perspective.”