Ruben Loftus-Cheek will request a loan move away from Chelsea if new boss Maurizio Sarri does not guarantee a regular starting spot for him at Stamford Bridge.
The England midfielder, who shone at the World Cup and on loan with Crystal Palace in 2017/18, has seen a string of players signed in his place in recent seasons and is considering his future at the club.
Chelsea are adamant they will not let him go summer but the Times say Loftus-Cheek will be forced to ask for a temporary move if he is not given a starting role.
Although the academy product now has less than a week to make the switch to an English club before the window closes early this season, the European transfer deadline is still August 31.
Chelsea have signed central midfielders Jorginho, Ross Barkley, Danny Drinkwater and Tiemoue Bakayoko in the last 12 months, making Loftus-Cheek’s path to the first team complicated.
He returned a week early from his post-World Cup holiday to try and impress Sarri before the season starts.
But with N’Golo Kante and new £53m signing Jorginho likely to hold down two of the three central midfield places in Sarri’s system, and Cesc Fabregas’ creativity preferred for the third role, minutes will be hard to come by.
At Palace last season he played 24 league games and was one of the key factors in the club avoiding relegation.
That also led to a first England call-up in November 2017, roundly praised on debut against world champions Germany in a 0-0 draw.
He was named in Gareth Southgate’s World Cup squad and made four appearances in Russia, including an excellent cameo off the bench against Tunisia in the first game.