Chelsea’s best player has little over a year left on his contract and is attracting Real Madrid’s interest. Chelsea’s teenage England international is in a similar situation. Maurizio Sarri is under pressure with persistent speculation about his future.
Even for a club accustomed to turmoil, the next four months could be messy. A transfer ban looms. Roman Abramovich’s interest in the club is perhaps waning.
Callum Hudson-Odoi will be subject to more bids from Bayern Munich. Eden Hazard is more likely to be a Real Madrid player than a Chelsea player in 2019/20. There could be another different face in the dugout.
Amid all the uncertainty, Chelsea are battling on two fronts with a month left in the season. Okay, it’s not for two trophies, but it’s enough to make all of their remaining matches relevant.
Chelsea have a favourable path to the Europa League final in Baku and are still in with a fighting chance of a top four spot. The Blues are 6/4 favourites to win the Europa League.
If Chelsea are to have any chance of retaining Hazard, qualifying for the Champions League is a must. Only the Belgian knows if doing it through finishing top four or winning the Europa League matters.
Hazard’s future alters what Chelsea can realistically hope for next season and beyond. He splits opinion, but there’s no doubting his ability. Hazard turns it on and Chelsea win.
West Ham suffered one of those Hazard performances earlier this month, Liverpool were knocked out of the League Cup by a moment of Hazard magic. He’s been instrumental in two league titles.
Only a handful of players in Europe’s top five leagues have registered double figures in goals and assists. Hazard is one of them. The Belgian’s productivity has been his greatest criticism, his numbers often insignificant in comparison to players of a similar calibre.
Few footballing mortals can transform a match quite like Hazard. Regardless of goals or assists, Chelsea with Hazard are a threat to any side in world football because of what he is capable of.
Without him, as we have seen on multiple occasions, Chelsea are so-so offensively. However, Chelsea’s dependence on Hazard is natural for a player of his quality.
His inconsistency is what separates him from the very best on the planet, leaving him as a top 10 or 20 player rather than top five. It has hurt Chelsea at times, but transfer ban or not, it’s not as simple as replacing him with one signing.
Chasing names to replace Hazard would be foolish, and it doesn’t fit with Chelsea’s recent transfer policy.
That brings us to Hudson-Odoi, the now England international whose playing time drove a perhaps irremovable wedge between the Blues faithful and Sarri.
Hudson-Odoi, along with Ruben Loftus-Cheek, looks to have played his way into the first team, enhancing Chelsea’s chances of convincing him to sign a new deal in the summer.
He is raw, but with undoubted talent, and is unquestionably ready to play important minutes, as he did from the start at Anfield on Sunday. Hudson-Odoi is 3/1 to join Bayern Munich this summer in 888sport’s football betting.
The prospect of losing Hazard and Hudson-Odoi will send shivers down spines around Stamford Bridge. Hudson-Odoi and Hazard in tandem is the dream, keeping Hudson-Odoi if Hazard departs is a necessity.
A post-Hazard Chelsea with Hudson-Odoi and the soon-to-arrive Christian Pulisic could be exciting, though a long way from competing for major silverware. It gives something to build on.
The transfer ban could yet be a blessing in disguise for Chelsea if they can keep Hazard and/or Hudson-Odoi. Reece James and Mason Mount headline a group of players who could flourish given the opportunity.
Chelsea’s recruitment has been hit and miss in recent years – the ban would force them to consider players like James and Mount instead of investing in squad players who vanish into the reserves.
The range of outcomes just from Hazard and Hudson-Odoi’s futures is vast. That’s before we even consider Sarri, N’Golo Kante or Abramovich.
Next season could start with Chelsea building on the Sarriball groundwork of this campaign with Hazard and Hudson-Odoi ready to take the Premier League by storm.
Or Chelsea could be changing approach once again under a new manager without their homegrown starlet or Belgian sensation and with no new signings.
Chelsea flip from glory to crisis on a frequent basis. The coming months, though, are perhaps the most crucial of the Abramovich era.
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*