Antonio Rudiger has been left out of the Chelsea squad for today’s visit of Liverpool in a move that could raise question marks over his future.
Germany international Rudiger was an unused substitute for Chelsea’s opening Premier League victory over Brighton.
But Telegraph Sport understands that Rudiger will not even be on the bench for this afternoon’s game against the Premier League champions at Stamford Bridge.
With Kurt Zouma and Andreas Christensen partnering each other at Brighton and summer signing Thiago Silva to come in, Rudiger had already been effectively relegated to fourth choice.
But his exclusion from the squad for the Liverpool game could raise doubts over Rudiger’s future and whether or not head coach Frank Lampard is looking to offload him.
Chelsea have delayed a decision over whether or not Fikayo Tomori, who has been targeted by Everton, can go out on loan for the season.
Lampard will want four centre backs at the club and will want to be sure that Rudiger will not be a disruptive influence if he is left out.
The 27-year-old is thought to be relaxed about his Chelsea omission, but will speak to his representatives over the next 24 hours to establish their next move.
Rudiger has under two years remaining on his Chelsea contract, with the club yet to open talks over a possible extension.
Arriving from Roma three years ago, Rudiger has established himself as a popular figure and helped the club land two of their summer signings – Timo Werner and Kai Havertz.
On the role of the man fans dubbed ‘agent Rudiger’, Werner said: “It’s really important to have people who can speak your language and he helped me a lot in my first days here when sometimes I didn’t understand everything if the manager was talking too fast.
“When it was not so clear if I was coming here and I was talking to the manager and members of the club, he was important to me.
“To have a guy who was inside the team, he could tell me a little bit about the club – how are the people, the staff and the players, how is the feeling in the team, is everybody with each other? He told me it is very good and fun to play here, that it’s a very big club that wants to win and that can win because they have the facilities for that. In this part, he was really important.”