Chelsea risk losing Eden Hazard, Thibaut Courtois and Willian as they cannot offer what superstar performers want, says Mario Melchiot.
The Blues have savoured Premier League and FA Cup success in recent years, but will be without elite European competition in 2018-19.
As they could only muster a fifth-place finish in Antonio Conte’s final season at the helm, new boss Maurizio Sarri has fires to fight in west London.
Former Blues defender Melchiot told talkSPORT on the transfer challenges facing Chelsea as they prepare for life in the Europa League: “That’s the problem – those guys want to play in the Champions League.
“They want to play in a team that has enough quality to complete to win the Champions League and Premier League titles.
“Clubs like Madrid or Barcelona, they don’t have that problem.
“And as a player, if you’re at a club like Chelsea and you’re playing at the top of the league, you don’t have to worry about it either.
“But when you’re not, that’s when you have to consider it [joining another club].
“By the end of your career you want to win as many trophies as you can and you do whatever it takes to get there.
“Of course you love the club you’re at, but you also have to understand that as a professional football player you are judged by the number of trophies you have in your cabinet.
“When you’re at a top team and you can deliver that, you don’t have to consider other teams, but when the likes of Madrid and Barcelona come they guarantee you play at that level, so it’s almost impossible not to consider it, especially when you are going through a difficult time with the team you’re at now.”
Hazard has hinted at making a move elsewhere this summer, while Courtois has made no secret of his desire to return to Spain at some stage in the future.
Chelsea may, however, have seen their efforts to retain Willian aided by Barcelona’s stunning signing of Malcom from Bordeaux, with an agreement with Roma hijacked to bring the Brazilian forward on board.