THIS time next week, Mason Mount will be on a plane with the England squad to the World Cup in Qatar.
And as one of our brightest midfielders departs for the greatest shop window in global sport, Chelsea chairman Todd Boehly’s farewell wave could be way more significant than the American billionaire thinks.
If things go really well, Mount will not be back on English soil until December 19 — leaving him with just over 18 months left on his Stamford Bridge deal.
Talks are meant to be ongoing about a new one but so far there’s been no noise from the Chelsea boys about tying down one of their own for the foreseeable future.
Meanwhile, his boyhood academy pal Reece James was nailed to the colours with a six-year deal at the start of the season.
And incoming manager Graham Potter was handed a five-year deal by Boehly while sacked Thomas Tuchel was still clearing his desk at the training ground.
Mount did not have his best game in a Chelsea shirt during Sunday’s 1-0 home defeat against Arsenal.
But he is not alone in that. Three times in the past month he has been Man of the Match for a team struggling to get to grips with the ideas of Potter.
When players head off to major international tournaments they like their head space to be trained only upon the job at hand.
Which means important negotiations between Mount and Chelsea are likely to be mothballed until the turn of the year at the earliest.
If Boehly is not careful, he will stray into Antonio Rudiger territory.
The club and their fans are still smarting from the ludicrous dithering over a new contract, which ended with their best defender and biggest character leaving on a free transfer at the end of last season.
The German went public and admitted that he would have loved to stay in England but when the terms he wanted failed to materialise, he skipped off to Real Madrid.
And his fellow defender Andreas Christensen was also allowed to leave for nothing, landing Chelsea with a major rebuild job on their defence in the summer.
Settling a contract for Mount should be one of the simplest tasks in Boehly’s in-tray.
The boy has blue blood having been at Chelsea since he was six.
Yet maybe that is what’s holding him back?
It’s only when you threaten to leave that many employers suddenly realise your true value to them.
That’s not exclusive to football.
And it’s not only Mount facing this awkward position under new owners at Chelsea, who consistently trumpet their passion for ‘long-termism’.
Jorginho, currently holding the midfield together in the absence of injured N’Golo Kante, is in an even more uncertain position.
The Italian’s deal expires at the end of this season and there has been total silence so far on progress towards one of the club’s key players signing an extension.
Keeper Edouard Mendy is also in a stand-off with the club as he prepares to head to the Middle East with Senegal.
Mendy will be a free agent next season and there is still no sign of a contract agreement in place.
Potter was talking tactics last week when he admitted that, when trying new things, you must be prepared to look like “an idiot”.
Boehly is not there yet but if he is not careful, history will repeat itself with some of his best players and he won’t look quite the business genius who can make Chelsea great again.