Chelsea have not had it rosy this season and have completely disappointed bookmakers in the way they have defended the title they won last season.
When a team is facing a difficult moment like Chelsea is, there is always the big risk of losing one or two of its best legs, and Arsenal can testify to that.
With the London side facing an uphill task of making it into the top four, rumours have again emerged about the possibility of Eden Hazard leaving the club.
“I am happy where I am,” Hazard had said, knocking off speculations linking him with a move away from Stamford Bridge. However, with the way things stand at the moment, will the 27-year old still be “happy” to don the blue colours of Chelsea next season?
No Champions League Football
Like it or not, Hazard is not the type of player meant for Europa League football. The Belgian is 27 years and is looking towards the twilight of his career in another 5 years – this is the time for him to play at the big stage. With Chelsea unlikely to make it into Europe’s big league next season, the temptation for Hazard to leave only grows stronger. As a footballer, you don’t want to return from a World Cup, only to play in the Europa League.
Chelsea’s Lack of Ambition
The whole point of building a new stadium does not excuse Chelsea’s lack-lustre deals in the past two transfer windows. In case you have not noticed, four (Tiemoue Bakayoko, Danny Drinkwater, Ross Barkley, Emerson Palmieri) out of the seven players Chelsea signed this season all came in with injuries. To add to that, none of these players has positively improved the team. That is not the sign of a club that is ambitious, or maybe Roman Abrahimovic has forgotten that Chelsea’s success in the last 10 years has been the product of massive investment in the right players. If Chelsea is nursing the dream of building the team around Hazard, then they have to buy intelligent players that can help him play better.
Conte’s War with the Board
A team divided is hardly going to succeed, and as a player who is at the prime of his career, you wouldn’t want to be in a team where the board and the manager are in constant disagreement over the signing new players. In one interview, Antonio Conte clearly stated that if he hopes to remain at Chelsea next season, then he needs to make up with the board – that is a proof of a deteriorated relationship. Last season when things seem to have their balance, we saw the best of Hazard as he steered Chelsea to the Premier League crown. This season, it has been the Belgian constantly trying to drag the team along at least to make the top four.
He is not a False 9
“We could have played this game for three more hours and in three hours, I will touch zero balls,” Hazard told members of the Belgian media after Chelsea’s loss to Manchester City. That sums up the disappointment of one of the world’s best creative players.
Antonio Conte has to know that playing Hazard as a false 9 limits the Belgian’s qualities and the creativity of the entire Chelsea team. You don’t expect a player of Hazard’s calibre to stick to a team where he is being deployed like an ordinary forward in the English championship. You play long balls towards him and expect him to contest with giant defenders behind him, that’s like asking Tyrion Lannister to slap Ser Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane across the face in Game of Thrones.
The Lure of Real Madrid
If Real Madrid come knocking, there is a ‘real’ possibility to see Hazard switch to the Spanish league. At Madrid, at least he is sure of never being played out of position – especially as a false nine. Then there is the big chance of competing for the honours of the Balon d’Or and FIFA Best with a better pay to go with. If Chelsea keep playing conservatively, especially against big opponents, like Conte sets them up to do, the players with flair will get frustrated. Considering the way things are now at Chelsea if you were Hazard and Madrid came calling, would you say no?
Where do you think Hazard will play next season? Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments section.