LONDON // Senior Chelsea players are attempting to persuade Gael Kakuta to change his mind and remain at Stamford Bridge by agreeing to a new contract at the club.
The France Under 21 international is free to agree to terms with foreign clubs in January. His representatives are eager to arrange a transfer to the French league for a Fifa-mandated training fee of just €360,000 (Dh1.8 million).
Frustrated by a lack of first-team opportunities, Kakuta - who cost Chelsea significantly more than £5 million (Dh29.5m) in wages and compensation after his illegal recruitment from the French club RC Lens - has been urged by teammates to stay in London and establish himself at his current club. Kakuta, 19, may be encouraged by the fact that the relative weakness of Chelsea's squad this season has allowed several of the club's younger players, such as John Obi Mikel and Josh McEachran, greater opportunity to establish themselves in the team.
Mikel, the Nigerian who despite being in his fifth season at Stamford Bridge is still only 23, has been encouraged by Carlo Ancelotti, his coach, to take a more creative attitude to his holding role in midfield this season and play more forward passes.
"Things like this come through age," Mikel said. "The more you get maturity in your game, the more your game changes and I can see changes in my game as well."