Chelsea ‘quietly activate star’s contract clause’ in bad news for Barcelona

Chelsea have secretly activated a clause to extend Ian Maatsen’s contract at the club, according to reports. Barcelona were reportedly keen on signing the versatile star but their chances have been made a whole lot harder by the Blues’ latest move.

Maatsen returned to Chelsea in the summer following a successful loan spell at Burnley last season. He featured 39 times in the Championship as the Clarets were promoted back to the Premier League as champions.

The Dutchman was hoping to push his case in pre-season and become a prominent part of Mauricio Pochettino’s plans. However, he played just 13 minutes across the first three league matches of the campaign.

Maatsen has entered the final year of his contract and rejected an offer of renewal in August. That saw Chelsea accept a £31.5million bid from Burnley for him on transfer deadline day in an attempt to bring in a large fee for a player whose contract is expiring.

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Maatsen turned down the move and decided to stay and fight for his place at Stamford Bridge. That, according to the Standard, has now seen Chelsea quietly activate a one-year clause to extend his contract until 2025.

Barcelona were said to be keen on negotiating a free transfer as Maatsen was able to speak to foreign clubs in January and strike a pre-contract agreement. But Chelsea have now ensured he won’t be leaving for free for at least another 18 months.

Barca’s financial situation means they may struggle to come up with a similar offer to what Burnley had accepted at the end of the summer window. Maatsen has been forced to settle for substitute roles in the Premier League since the window shut and the Standard says he has rejected two more offers of a new contract in the last few weeks.

Chelsea also accepted an offer for Trevoh Chalobah late in the summer but, like Maatsen, he also stayed. Pochettino explained why the club chose to accept both bids, hinting the players were open to leaving if the move suited them.

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The Argentine said in September: “What I can tell you is that there is there are two sides [to the situation]. If an offer appears, it is because another part of the club accepted that they move or they were trying to find a solution for a player that wanted to leave.

“You cannot only blame the club. But it is always easy to blame the club. In the same way, maybe the player was thinking in pre-season or before the season to move in one direction.

“If after that didn’t happen, then I am fair with the player. I will give them a chance to perform and play here. Maybe the player decides to stay after but that’s the business.”

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