The Londoners' joint-second top scorer of all time, Frank Lampard, looks unlikely to be offered a new deal with the 34-year-old's contract expiring at the end of the season, his agent says.
Media reports have said other fan favourites Ashley Cole and captain John Terry could also be sacrificed in the next two years after Chelsea showed they mean business by letting Champions League-winning hero Didier Drogba leave in May.
"I think it's always easy to talk about the legends and you have to have a lot of respect for them," Benitez told newspapers ahead of Wednesday's Capital One Cup semi-final first leg against Swansea City.
"What they've achieved for this club has been fantastic. But you have to have new players and carry on winning games. That's what the fans are expecting."
The European champions, fourth in the Premier League, also have an eye on big wage earners given the onset of UEFA's Financial Fair Play rules where they have to break even or risk exclusion from European competition.
"Everyone knows the legends who have been here and what they have achieved. That is the good thing about English football, you have good memories and respect people who achieve something for the club, which is very positive," the Spaniard added.
"But at the same time you have to think about the future. You cannot be waiting."