Roman Abramovich has already lost Chelsea's next captain as Thomas Tuchel held at £18m ransom


Chelsea have already lost what could have been a front-runner in the race to inherit Cesar Azpilicueta's captaincy. The 32-year-old defender, who joined the Blues in 2012 from Marseille for just £7m, faces an uncertain future at Stamford Bridge with his current deal set to expire in the summer.

Azpilicueta is yet to have penned an extension with the west London side, and as it stands, he'll be available via a transfer at the end of the season. The Spaniard has been subject to growing interest from Barcelona, who are 'confident' in winning the race for his signature, according to Fabrizio Romano .

 As talks seemingly heat up, Thomas Tuchel edges ever closer to losing his club captain, forcing the German to find an heir to the throne ahead of next season.

Jorginho is, of course, Chelsea's reigning vice- captain, but the Italian's staggered omission from the first-team in recent weeks leaves a door open for somebody to take centre stage.

 The likes of Mason Mount, Thiago Silva and N'Golo Kante have worn the armband on several occasions, which, therefore, throws their hats in the ring. However, Patrick Vieira has already crowned the west Londoners' natural heir to the throne at Crystal Palace.

Marc Guehi, who Chelsea offloaded in the summer for just £18m to fund a deal for Romelu Lukaku, has evolved into an integral piece of the Eagles' puzzle. The 21-year-old's impressive displays have earned him the captain's armband at Selhurst Park, and he is yet to pick up anything less than three points when leading his side out of the tunnel.

Guehi has guided Palace to 4-1 and 2-0 wins over Watford and Wolves in the Premier League this season, translating his leadership qualities from the England under-21s in excellent fashion.

Chelsea included a clause in the centre-back's contract with Palace, stating that the Blues will have the chance to buy Guehi back for the same fee agreed with another club, according to the Guardian.

Had it been a buy-back clause - like Tino Livramento's agreement with Southampton - that has a 'matter of fact' price tag, then Tuchel's side would have some leeway to work with.

However, this is not the case; the reported 'first offerings' clause holds Chelsea at ransom, leaving the club in the dark should they wish to be reactive rather than proactive.

Speaking on his exit in the summer, Guehi noted his desire to play first-team football, labelling his decision to leave as 'easy'. "It wasn't an easy decision for me to leave Chelsea. I was at the club for so long – since I was seven years old," said Guehi.

"I am extremely grateful for everyone who has helped me get so far, and it's because of them that I'm here.

"I felt like it was the right decision for me to move to Palace. I wanted to play regular football at a high level in the Premier League and test myself to see how far I can go. I think I will really improve myself.

"So looking at it that way, I think it was the right decision. My mentality is to get the most out of myself."

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