New Watford signing Nathaniel Chalobah admits he was left with little choice but to leave Chelsea this summer after being given few assurances over his opportunities this season. The 22-year-old has re-joined the Hornets on a five-year deal after making just 15 appearances in 12 years with the Blues.
The former England Under-21 international was loaned out six times during his time at Stamford Bridge, having spells at Watford, Nottingham Forest, Middlesbrough, Burnley, Reading and Napoli. But having made little progress towards nailing down a regular first team place Chalobah has left on a permanent deal which could rise to £7m, according to Sky Sports.
Chalobah's decision to leave Chelsea came two days before the arrival of fellow-midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko from Monaco, and followed talks with manager Antonio Conte during which he was offered another chance to go on loan as well as a new contract. Twenty-five players have already left the Premier League champions on temporary deals and Chalobah refused to join that list in an effort to reignite his career.
"I wanted to come out and play," Chalobah told BBC Three Counties Radio. "Being at Chelsea, I would have signed a new deal and gone out on loan again and got frustrated. That was the choice I had to make, but it was emotional leaving Chelsea. The conversation I had with the manager Antonio Conte was positive but it was a decision I had to make after being on loan six times."
He added, according to the Press Association: "I was offered a new contract but I decided to leave and hopefully get opportunities here [Watford]. Leaving Chelsea was very emotional because I'd been there since I was a boy. I wanted to be part of [Watford] again and I wanted to feel like I belong somewhere.
"No disrespect to Chelsea but when I was here first time I did feel as if I was involved quite a bit and I did get opportunities. [My England prospects]were part of the reasons. It was just about trying to improve.
"[Marco Silva, Watford's new] manager was also something that was part of that. I'd heard some great things about him and I'd seen his work from last season (with Hull). I felt like he would be the perfect guy to improve me and hopefully teach me some new things.
"Being [at Chelsea] last year, I saw how difficult it was to get in the team. You've got world-class players and all these players got to where they got to by playing games and putting their name out there. It was important for me to try to get that so I can say one day, 'Okay I've been there, got the experience I need and moved at the right time'.''
Twelve players have departed Chelsea on long-term deals this summer including Nemanja Matic, John Terry and Juan Cuadrado. Further exits are expected in the form of last season's top scorer Diego Costa, who has been made surplus to requirements by Conte.
Other young players to depart include Ghana winger Christian Atsu, Alex Kiwomya, Nathan Ake and Dominic Solanke, leading to criticism from Conte over their lack of patience. "Sometimes I think the young players lose their patience very quickly, because of parents or the people around these players," said the Italian. "The advisers are not right. You have to fight with this. The first thing players should have is good patience. Trust the club and work very hard to know that to play at this level you must be stronger."