With it appearing more likely that Eden Hazard’s long-discussed move to Real Madrid is moving closer, many around Stamford Bridge are starting to draw up a list of potential replacements.
Announcing that he has finally made a decision on his future, it is believed that the Belgian winger could make a £100million swap to the Spanish capital in the summer.
However, while one superstar might be securing a route out of the Premier League, another could be making a speedy return.
According to The Independent, Barcelona’s Philippe Coutinho is being touted as one of the options to replace Hazard’s void in West London.
Chelsea are among the clubs monitoring Philippe Coutinho's situation at Barcelona as they prepare for life without star man Eden Hazard (Independent) pic.twitter.com/ztqPCQaIj9
— Simon Phillips (@SiPhillipsSport) February 6, 2019
While Chelsea fans will be heartbroken to see Hazard end his six-year stay in West London, a potential move to Real Madrid has always seemed like an inevitability.
Hazard himself has also previously discussed his hopes of securing a move to Real Madrid after Belgium’s bronze medal finish over the summer.
Despite many in SW6 hoping Hazard would extend his stay at Chelsea, the 27-year-old appeared to end any hopes of that with a simple statement earlier in the week.
In an interview with French radio station RMC, as part of a documentary about his career that will be aired tomorrow night, Hazard made it clear he has made a decision on his future.
“I know what I will do. I have made my decision.”
The interview was carried out two months ago but appears to suggest that Hazard already had his heart set on a move to the Bernabeu, a long-held desire he has made no attempt to conceal as his contract runs down at Stamford Bridge.
The World Cup star will see his current deal with the former champions expire in June 2020.
Chelsea manager, Maurizio Sarri, said in December that it was “time to decide” the issue but also accepts that his star player should leave if that is his wish. “If he wants to go, he has to go,” Sarri said last week.
With Chelsea expected to be handed a substantial amount of money to play with if Hazard should leave over the summer, one man who appears to topping their list of replacements is former Liverpool man Philippe Coutinho.
While the Blues have already secured the signing of USA winger Christian Pulisic from Borussia Dortmund ahead of next season, they are also keeping tabs on Coutinho’s situation at Barcelona.
Despite moving to the Nou Camp last January in a deal that could rise to £142million, the 28-year-old is reportedly struggling to adjust to life under Ernesto Valverde.
Even though Barcelona club president Josep Bartomeu has announced that Coutinho is not for sale, the Brazilian international has been far less certain over his future.
Speaking to beIN Sports last week, he said:
“Nobody knows what will happen in the future, all I have in my head right now is to work hard.”
Although there is no doubt that Hazard has earned his place in Chelsea folklore, would fans around Stamford Bridge be happy to see Coutinho make a return to the Premier League?