Pochettino sends another player packing as Chelsea team-mates pay tribute

Chelsea head coach Mauricio Pochettino has followed his decision to banish Joao Felix by snubbing the opportunity to sign Denis Zakaria too.

He spent the campaign at the London team on loan from Juventus, but his exit was confirmed by an emotional farewell statement on Thursday.

Pochettino has made his preferences known to Chelsea co-owner Todd Boehly, with Felix sent back to Atletico Madrid as the Argentine coach did not want him in his squad for next season.

It emerged this week that Pochettino had also made his mind up on Zakaria, who came with a £26m permanent buy option at the end of his spell at Stamford Bridge.

The Swiss midfielder had been barely used this campaign, however, and even less so after Frank Lampard was appointed manager.

Zakaria only started five Premier League matches this campaign and Chelsea have chosen to go in another direction with Pochettino’s rebuild ahead.

Addressing Chelsea fans on Instagram, Zakaria wrote: “It’s been a tough time but you guys always had my back. Thanks to everyone who‘s been supporting me! Let’s focus on the beautiful memories.”

And tributes poured in from his Chelsea team-mates, including Reece James, who said: “My big bro man, some great memories!! Ps. Spiderman [laughing face].” Carney Chukwuemeka added: “My big bro.”

Kai Havertz and Loftus-Cheek were also among those players to offer messages of support for Zakaria, who will now return to Turin.

After his return to the club, he now faces an uncertain future, having fallen out of favour with manager Massimiliano Allegri.

Zakaria has the physicality to thrive in the Premier League, standing at 6ft 3in tall, and his experience with Borussia Monchengladbach is supplemented by 47 international caps for Switzerland.

He is unlikely to be the only midfielder leaving the club this summer, with Loftus-Cheek also appearing to wave goodbye to supporters during last week’s game against Newcastle United.


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