If Chelsea aren’t yet in crisis, they soon could be, with a trio of their top stars rumoured to be leaving.
Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois seems almost certain to head back to Madrid and sign for Real, because it’s an open secret that the Belgian misses his wife and children, all of whom live in the Spanish capital.
Willian hasn’t denied the rumours linking him to Barcelona although the Catalans, already overbooked in midfield, should think twice about spending €70 million, if reports are to be believed, on a player who will shortly turn 30.
The third player consistently in the news is the Blues’ star man, Eden Hazard.
He’s having a reasonable World Cup with Belgium and transfer speculation doesn’t appear to have affected his form, but there’s a reason why his name keeps appearing in the news too, and that’s nothing to do with the tournament.
It’s down to the open courting of Los Blancos as a preferred destination.
Hazard’s father was quoted at the beginning of the year as saying that his son would love to move to Madrid, something that the player himself later denied, though it was more out of embarrassment because of the element of truth.
Chelsea have certainly been put through the wringer since Jose Mourinho returned, and even Antonio Conte’s debut season title triumph has been overshadowed by a poor second campaign.
Further, the way in which the club have conducted their search for a new coach has impacted on Conte himself and club staff.
With the Europa League, rather than the Champions League, to play for in 2018/19, it’s little wonder that some big stars are seeking pastures new.
Roman Abramovich’s visa application issues have only muddied the waters further in terms of the precise nature of any problems at the club, and investment in playing staff doesn’t seem as grandiose as it once was either.
Whether the owner is losing interest or not, some of the players definitely are, but if Chelsea still wish to be seen as one of the ‘go to’ clubs in the Premier League, they can’t afford to let their biggest stars leave.
If Hazard walks, what message does that send out to supporters, team-mates and potential new recruits?
The ‘Kings of the King’s Road’ will be no more and the final nail will be hammered into the coffin if the Belgian talisman isn’t still at Stamford Bridge for the start of the 2018/19 season.
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