London: Gary Cahill has revealed he is prepared to quit Chelsea in January, as he grows increasingly frustrated at being frozen out by head coach Maurizio Sarri.
Cahill has not played a single minute since Sarri’s appointment in July and the former England defender is ready to call time on his six-year career at Stamford Bridge.
The 32-year-old has lifted two Premier League titles, the Champions League and the FA Cup since joining from Bolton Wanderers for pounds seven million in January 2012, and was named as club captain last season after John Terry’s departure.
His decision to retire from international football after the World Cup was designed to prolong his career at club level, yet it has been a difficult start for the centre-half since Sarri’s arrival.
Cahill has not been included in any of Sarri’s squads for Chelsea’s five Premier League games and was an unused substitute for Thursday’s Europa League tie with PAOK Salonika.
He has admitted he will consider leaving in January, with Watford and Marseille emerging as potential destinations. When asked if he could leave in the new year, he said: “I don’t want to jump the gun, but as things stand at this time, probably, yes. I’m not a guy who is willing to accept not playing. Your career’s short enough as it is. I’ve got maximum respect for everybody here at the club, for the fans and all the players. But sometimes you have to make tough decisions to keep your career going forward.
“As it is now, I’m not really enjoying things. Having been a big part of things for seven years and played a huge part, not just a squad player, I’m definitely finding it difficult this year to deal with that situation.
“The most important thing here is the team, but I’ve got to look at my situation and my future as well. Everything gradually comes to an end or there’s a new challenge around the corner.”
Cahill will be a free agent at the end of this season, so any deal to take him in January is unlikely to be expensive for interested clubs.
And Cahill has pleaded with Chelsea to “respect” his service and not stand in his way over a move, comparing his situation to that of Petr Cech, who quit the club for -Arsenal in 2015.
“I think with Pete they saw he wasn’t getting the game-time he would have liked and they rewarded his professionalism and his attitude by letting him go and get first-team football,” he said.
“I’m in great condition at the minute, I’ve been training even harder, in the gym. I know I can play week in, week out, not a problem.
“I saw that in him [Cech]. He could easily have played any -moment. He just wanted to push himself to go and continue playing week in, week out. That’s why I used that as an example. I feel I’m in a similar situation.
“I’m proud of my career, of what I’ve done here and what I’ve achieved in such a short space of time. For someone to come and do exactly the same in six years, I’d like to see how long that would take.
“Whatever my future holds, in terms of the club, and the relationship I have with the club and the fans, this will have been a huge part of my footballing life.”
Cahill was overlooked for Andreas Christensen for the 1-0 win over PAOK and is unlikely to be in the squad for Sunday’s game at West Ham United.
He could be in line to appear in the Carabao Cup tie at Liverpool on Wednesday, but Sarri has offered no guarantees.
“It is very difficult. For me, this is the pre-season. In our pre-season, eight players arrived in the week of the Premier League, so this is my pre-season,” said the manager. “In the match against PAOK, I prefer to put Christensen in the starting XI. Next time, maybe Cahill.”
— The Telegraph Group Limited, London 2018