Maurizio Sarri has given a clear indication that Gary Cahill will be allowed to leave Chelsea in January.
The 32-year-old club captain has only made seven Blues appearances in total this season, with his sole Premier League outing coming as a substitute against West Ham in September.
Arsenal are among several clubs to have been linked with Cahill, who suggested earlier this season the he would seek a move in January if he continued to be overlooked by head coach Sarri.
Sarri regards Cahill as an excellent defender but not suited to the style of play the Italian favours.
Sarri explained: “Maybe he is the best of our defenders inside the box, but our centre-backs usually play about 100 or 110 balls in a match, so I need very technical defenders.
“I respect him very much, then I have to do my job. For every match I have to choose, and for me it’s not easy to put him on the bench.”
Cahill has won every major honour since joining Chelsea in January 2012, racking up 289 appearances during his near-seven year spell.
Sarri added that Cahill’s future will be decided by the player – and Chelsea’s policy of only offering one-year deals to the over-30s may be a crucial factor.
“If he has an offer of three years he can decide on something else,” Sarri said.
“It doesn’t depend on whether I am sentimental or not. It’s not my decision.
“It is up to him and the club, because he is in his last year of contract so he has to decide for a new contract here or with another club.”