Four further players who have made appearances for our men’s first team are on the list of released players submitted to the Premier League.
These are in addition to Antonio Rudiger, whose signing for Real Madrid was confirmed earlier this month.
Andreas Christensen’s Chelsea contract expires this summer, bringing to an end his 10 years as a Blue, during which he graduated from our Academy and subsequently secured a regular place in our senior squad, playing 161 games.
He would experience success in the FA Cup, Europa League, UEFA Super Cup, FIFA Club World Cup and, most memorably, the Champions League. He came off the bench in the first half of the final in Porto last year and was crucial to our defensive efforts as we overcame Manchester City.
Christensen’s Chelsea story began in 2012 when he arrived from Brondby in his native Denmark. He enjoyed instant success in our Academy, reaching two finals in his first season and then winning two trophies, the FA Youth Cup and the Under-21 Premier League, in his second.
Shortly after his 17th birthday he was named on the bench for the final game of the 2012/13 Premier League campaign, a win against Everton, and he was then involved in a post-season tour to the USA.
His involvement with Jose Mourinho’s squad stepped up in 2014/15, and Christensen was handed his Chelsea debut in a fourth-round League Cup victory at Shrewsbury. He played the full 90 minutes at right-back and performed a similar role in the FA Cup fourth round against Bradford.
Christensen continued to play his part for our Academy teams, excelling as we won the UEFA Youth League for the first time. A good third year at Chelsea concluded with a Premier League bow against Sunderland on the day we lifted the title, and then a senior Denmark debut in a friendly against Montenegro.
To continue his development, Christensen left on loan to Borussia Monchengladbach and enjoyed what would prove to be two very fruitful years in Germany. Having established himself in the side, he got his first taste of Champions League football and was even voted the club’s Player of the Year by Gladbach fans in 2016.
On his return to Chelsea ahead of the 2017/18 season, Christensen did not take long to establish himself in the heart of our defense, impressing with his composure and positioning as we racked up a number of clean sheets that winter.
He continued to be a mainstay at the back that term, with his efforts during a breakthrough campaign at the Bridge earning him the Chelsea Young Player of the Year award. The Dane’s 40 appearances in all competitions would prove to be the highest tally of his Blues career for a single season. He also picked up an FA Cup winner’s medal.
Antonio Conte’s wing-back system had suited Christensen’s ball-playing ability and reading of the game, but when Maurizio Sarri took charge in 2018, he opted for a 4-3-3 shape. David Luiz and Toni Rudiger were his centre-backs of choice.
Nevertheless, Christensen was ever-present in the Europa League as we went all the way, culminating in the dismantling of Arsenal in the final. Christensen starred that night in Baku, and made a fantastic block to deny Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang late on.
He carried that form into the next season with the Blues now under the stewardship of Frank Lampard. Despite the fierce competition for places at centre-back, Christensen enjoyed long spells in Lampard’s line-up. He started all but one of our Premier League and Champions League fixtures during the first two months of the season, forming partnerships first with Kurt Zouma and later Fikayo Tomori.
However, an untimely groin injury disrupted Christensen’s campaign. He had to wait until January to force his way back into the side, when he partnered Rudiger in central defense. That duo remained when football resumed following the suspension of sport owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. Christensen finished the season with 28 appearances in all competitions.
Christensen’s penultimate season at Chelsea did not really get going until an injury to Thiago Silva in Thomas Tuchel’s third game in charge handed him a chance he grabbed with both hands. After comfortably keeping Tottenham at bay to see out a 1-0 win, Christensen started 11 of our next 13 league fixtures, with nine ending in clean sheets. He was especially outstanding against Manchester United, completing all 77 of his passes, and at Anfield, registering a game-high nine clearances.
Christensen was also exemplary as we challenged in the Champions League, keeping Atletico Madrid and Porto quiet away from home, and limiting Real Madrid to very few chances in both legs of the semi-final. There was disappointment, however, when he picked up a tendon injury during our win at Manchester City with just a few weeks of the season remaining.
This meant Christensen missed the FA Cup final but was back on the bench for the final league fixture and the season finale in Porto. Just as in his first appearance under Tuchel, he was brought on for the injured Thiago Silva in the first half. We took the lead shortly afterwards and then Christensen helped in a strong defensive performance to protect that advantage in the second half. As we secured the trophy, he became the first player to have won the UEFA Youth League, the Europa League and the Champions League.
Arguably, the only thing Christensen was missing was a goal for the club, but he put that right in his 137th appearance, opening the scoring in a 4-0 home win over Malmo. Having waited seven years for his first goal, a second followed barely two months later in a 5-1 thrashing of Chesterfield in the FA Cup third round.
Christensen’s final season would finish with us having won two pieces of silverware. He had played in both the Super Cup success over Villarreal and the dramatic extra-time victory over Palmeiras that secured us the Club World Cup for the first time in our history.
Chelsea Football Club thanks Andreas for his contribution to our success in the last decade and wishes him well in his future career.
Danny Drinkwater will leave the club this summer as his Chelsea contract expires at the end of June. He has been with the Blues since 2017.
Drinkwater signed from Leicester, where he had won the Premier League title alongside N’Golo Kante, making his debut in a League Cup win over Everton and scoring his only Chelsea goal in our last match of 2017, as we thrashed Stoke City 5-0 .
In the second half of the 2017/18 season, Drinkwater featured in a 1-1 Champions League home draw with Barcelona and started the first four of our seven FA Cup ties en route to lifting the trophy at Wembley.
In total, Drinkwater made 23 appearances for Chelsea, in addition to time spent on loan in England and abroad, with his most recent competitive match for us coming in the 2018 Community Shield.
Attacking midfielder Charly Musonda is also at the end of his contract. The 25-year-old Belgian made seven men’s first team appearances, five as a substitute, and scored one goal.
He started a scholarship in our Academy in 2013 and was part of FA Youth Cup, UEFA Youth League and Under-21 Premier League winning sides before moving into the senior squad in 2017/18.
He scored on his full debut against Nottingham Forest in the Carabao Cup before loans at Real Betis, Celtic and Vitesse Arnhem. Unfortunately, his recent seasons were hampered by injury.
Jake Clarke-Salter’s 16-year association with the club has also come to an end. The Surrey-born defender is a graduate of our Academy, having progressed through the ranks from the Under-9 age group to make his senior debut at the age of 18 in a Premier League game away at Aston Villa in April 2016.
He was a member of the squad for the first part of the 2017/18 campaign and featured during a Carabao Cup victory over Nottingham Forest in September of that season. However, the vast majority of Clarke-Salter’s 127 senior appearances to date have come while on loan in the Eredivisie, League One and, most recently, the Championship with Coventry City. During his time in the Academy, he won the UEFA Youth League and FA Youth Cup titles, joining a select group of individuals with three winners medals in the latter competition. The centre-back has also represented England through the age groups up to Under-21s, winning the FIFA Under-20 World Cup with the young Lions in 2017. We thank Danny, Charly and Jake for their service and wish them all the best for the future.