Chelsea have won two Premier League titles, an FA Cup and the Europa League in the last five seasons alone, and that was after players like Frank Lampard had left Stamford Bridge.
“Since I came here, in every season we’ve had players leave – Lampard, John Terry, Didier Drogba, Ashley Cole, Petr Cech,” Azpilicueta told ChelseaFC.com.
“‘At those moments, people couldn’t imagine a Chelsea side winning trophies without those quality players but we tried to keep the level high and every year we’ve had the chance to bring trophies to the Bridge,” the Spanish defender added.
“Eden is gone, we can only wish him the best but it was his choice and now we have to move on. We’re not going to win anything just thinking about the past. We have a great chance already in five weeks to win a European trophy again so we want to work hard and look forward to that.”
It sounds like a plausible reason to be optimistic ahead of the imminent 2019/20 season for Chelsea players and fans alike. Whether it is well placed optimism is another question.
Cynics would point out that Lampard, Terry, Drogba, Cole and Cech all left Chelsea at the end of their careers, when they were winding down, unlike Hazard who has left at his peak.
Equally, all of them could be replaced. In the summer that Lampard left, for example, Chelsea signed Cesc Fabregas. Azpiliceuta himself had already replaced Cole after switching from right-back to left-back. Cech left because he had been replaced by Thibaut Courtois, while Chelsea paid £30m for Antonio Rudiger when a 36-year-old Terry moved to Aston Villa.
There is therefore huge pressure on Christian Pulisic to step up. But with a delayed start to his time at Chelsea because of CONCACAF Gold Cup involvement, it is not an ideal transition.