Michael Laudrup Claims Eden Hazard ‘Preparing’ for Chelsea Exit Ahead of Potential Real Madrid Move

?Michael Laudrup has fuelled rumours of Eden Hazard moving to ?Real Madrid, claiming that the ?Chelsea winger told him the deal was nearing completion.

Hazard has previously described playing for Real Madrid as “everyone’s dream”, refusing to rule out the possibility of leaving Stamford Bridge this summer.

His performances for Belgium at the World Cup have seen his stock rise even further, and now former Swansea manager Laudrup has confidently stated that the 27-year-old will be on his way to the Spanish capital in due course.

“I spoke to Eden Hazard a few days ago, he is preparing for a move to Real Madrid and it is a good move both for him and for Real,” Laurdrup told ?S?portske Novosti. “Again in Russia, he proved how good he is.”

New Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri may try to convince Hazard to stay at the club, but the lure of Champions League football might be too much for him to resist.

Speaking before Belgium’s World Cup elimination against France, Hazard seemed interested in the possibility of moving to Madrid, but denied that any approach had been made.

Belgium v France: Semi Final - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia

I think Real is everyone’s dream,” he told ?beIN SPOR?TS. “For now, it’s the World Cup. As I have said at least 100 times, I am at Chelsea and for the moment nobody has made me an offer.”

Hazard has made 300 appearances since joining Chelsea from Lille in 2012, scoring 89 goals. He won the PFA Young Player of the Year award in the 2013/14 season and followed it up by winning the PFA Player of the Year award the following year.

The transfer fee could be as much as £150m, which would be a British record and the third most expensive deal of all time.


Barcelona Make Hefty Player Plus Cash Offer for Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante After Impressive World Cup

Barcelona have stepped up their efforts to sign Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante, making an initial offer of cash plus midfielder Andre Gomes. 

Earlier, it was reported that the Catalan side had joined Paris Saint-Germain in the race to sign  Chelsea’s midfield engine  Kante, with Jorginho’s arrival said to possibly trigger the Frenchman’s exit.


The midfielder is currently at the World Cup with finalists France and has refused to be drawn in over questions on his future. But, of course, given his rise as the best defensive midfielder in Europe, Chelsea are sure to have a few offers for his services before the transfer window shuts this summer.

According to Sky, the player has become the subject of a player-plus-cash offer from La Blaugrana, who are said to have inserted Andre Gomes as the makeweight in question.

The Primera Division champions have already excluded the midfielder from their pre-season tour of the United States and he’s likely to leave this summer. 

Arsenal have been credited with interest and could make a move for the player, yet – per the latest reports – Barca would rather trade Gomes for Kante along with what should still be a hefty sum.

Serie A giants Juventus are also believed to be keen on a deal for the Barca man, who has struggled since his arrival at the Camp Nou in 2016.

Chelsea, who are unwilling to lose Kante at any cost, are unlikely to entertain such an offer, especially given that Gomes is involved. They are also said to be preparing to offer Kante a massive pay rise to keep him out of the clutches of any potential suitors.


Chelsea Finally Ready to Announce Next Manager as Reports Claim Maurizio Sarri Has Penned Deal

Chelsea are gearing up to unveil Maurizio Sarri as their new manager as they look to bring an end to the saga that has shrouded the club in uncertainty for most of the summer.

The Blues announced their parting of ways with Antonio Conte on Friday morning. Sky Italy are now reporting that a deal with Sarri is cut and dried, with the former Napoli coach penning a deal to become the next hot seat occupant at Stamford Bridge.

Sky are also reporting that Blues legend Gianfranco Zola will join Sarri and make a sensational return to the club whose fans he dazzled on countless occasions during the late ’90s and early 2000s.

Sarri, who hasn’t won anything just yet but has made quite the name for himself as one of the best attacking coaches in Europe, should have an easier time dealing with the Blues’ board as he claims to simply coach whoever is put before him.

His playing style contrasts Conte’s and it’s likely that his arrival will see the re-introduction of the 4-3-3 to the squad, who have been playing in a three-defender system for the past two seasons.

Meanwhile, Napoli midfielder Jorginho is expected to join the Italian at Stamford Bridge this summer. Chelsea are reported as having hijacked Manchester City’s transfer for the Brazilian, with Aurelio de Laurentiis echoing as much this week.

Birmingham City v Burton Albion - Sky Bet Championship

So, after quite the stagnant period at Stamford Bridge and Cobham, things should be getting underway, as it relates to transfers, pretty soon.


Grazie Antonio: Why the Italian Was a Better Chelsea Manager Than Jose Mourinho

As Antonio Conte departed ?Chelsea in relative incongruity after a two year stint in west London, the air around the club felt more ruthless than usual. Obviously, modern football is a cutthroat business, and almost no one has profited as much as the Blues in accordance with this fact, but this sacking felt particularly cold.

To start with, there was the insulting nature of the ?statement itself, especially in comparison to previous iterations – as illustrated below. It was as blunt as it gets – 61 words (seven less than the 68 games he won as manager), no thank you, not even a speckle of gratitude. 

Despite outlining the reasons for which the club should explicitly be grateful – “In the title winning season, the club set a then-record 30 wins in a 38-game Premier League season, as well as a club-record 13 consecutive league victories” – there was no parting handshake extended for a job well done. Even Andre Villas-Boas was afforded a more glorifying farewell.

Of course, the circumstances surrounding Conte’s demise are different to any Chelsea manager in recent history. Sure, similar themes have cropped up, but the breakdown in relations that has occurred seems to run deeper than any that has come before, even Jose Mourinho. 

The comparisons with Mourinho are fascinating and plentiful – which is presumably why there is so much needle between the two. They’re cut from the same cloth, and clearly despise that fact. 

They both won the ?Premier League in their debut season, revolutionising English football in the process.While the Portuguese tactician pioneered the 4-2-3-1 system, Conte popularised the 3-5-2 system that has now infiltrated the league, as well as the national team.


Now, generally speaking, I imagine if you were to survey a group of Chelsea fans, they would proclaim Mourinho the superior coach. Fair enough, he is the most successful manager in Chelsea’s history, trophy-wise, and captured the hearts of all those in blue in his two periods in charge. 

But who had the harder job? In terms of a competitive league, Conte had far more rivals for the title going into the 16/17 season, and outwitted the largest compilation of ‘superstar’ managers a league has ever seen. Additionally, Mourinho entered the west London fray in a more fruitful era – the grass was green, the money was flowing, the possibilities were endless and the obstacles scarce. 

Juxtapose that with Conte’s arrival coming off the back of the worst domestic season since 1995-96, and the Financial Fair Play restrictions, combining with Chelsea’s sudden consideration of the purse strings, affecting his outlay possibilities. 

While Chelsea were top dogs in 2004 – admittedly in part thanks to Mourinho’s ‘special one’ demeanor – there were few predicting a Chelsea triumph in 2016. For once, the club were relative underdogs. They had been displaced as the toughest, richest kid on the block and become, if not plucky, the intrepid outsiders. 

Chelsea's Frank Lampard (L) and manager

While Mourinho spent the majority of his tenure feverishly trying to create such a narrative, Conte had it organically, and used it with gusto – the histrionics that followed each and every bulging of the net coming across as charming instead of artificial. 

In light of this, Chelsea’s ensuing title victory in 2016/17 felt different. Maybe this is naive, but it felt like there was an inkling of goodwill directed at this side from the outside world, certainly more than was granted to the grizzled and largely despised outfits that had succeeded before.

In all honesty, though, the argument for Conte over Mourinho rests on the intangible rather than the practical. While Mourinho, save for the Champions League, achieved all he could at Chelsea, the Italian’s reign was one tinged with what could’ve been. 

In the summer of 2017, before the sourness built up, there was a feeling that the Italian could engineer a mentality shift that would put Chelsea at the forefront of European football once more, but with a focus on aesthetics. He had done it the hard way in the season preceding, but he wanted do it the right way in the future.

Crushingly, this opportunity wasn’t afforded to him. The same trust that Mourinho was emboldened with was never on the table for Antonio, and he suffered accordingly. Considering the cash that has already been needed to replace him, and what will be required to provide Maurizio Sarri with a chance in the upcoming season, their trust seems to have been misplaced. 

Perhaps I’m riddled with recency bias, but I fear Conte’s drawn out, bitter exit will be rued more than Mourinho’s ever was. It was an opportunity missed, for all involved.


4 Areas Maurizio Sarri Needs to Address When He Finally Takes Over at Chelsea

?With Maurizio Sarri seemingly set to replace Antonio Conte as manager of Chelsea, questions are being asked of what Sarri could bring to the team and how his tactics would translate to the club.

Sarri will be faced with many tough tasks as Chelsea manager. Immediate success is almost always demanded by Chelsea, but long-term sustainability is becoming more important at Stamford Bridge too.

Negotiations for Sarri have been drawn out over months and Chelsea must believe that Sarri is the man to achieve their goals. So how exactly will Sarri’s tactics work at Chelsea?

1. ‘Sarriball’

‘Sarriball’ or ‘Sarrismo’ are two names given to Sarri’s preferred tactics. Described by French outlet L’Equipe as “vertical tika-taka”, Sarri likes his team to focus on possession, using short passes to advance up the pitch as quickly as possible.

There are a few positions which play a key role in ‘Sarriball’. Central defenders need to be strong passers who can initiate attacks. A deep-lying midfielder is responsible for picking the ball up from the defenders and instantly turning the possession into offence. 

His attackers must be fluid and prepared to move around and draw defenders out of position to create space for others.

On paper, this tactic has potential in England. Guardiola’s Manchester City and Klopp’s Liverpool have highlighted how both possession and attacking fluidity can dominate in the Premier League, and ‘Sarriball’ should be no different.

2. Does Sarri Have the Players at Chelsea?

The first key position for Sarri is his central defenders, who must be calm and strong passers of the ball. At Chelsea, the likes of Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger have both shown that they possess these qualities, whilst David Luiz and even Gary Cahill have both shown their competence with the ball at times. Links to Daniele Rugani of Juventus are unsurprising.

In terms of the deep-lying midfielder, Cesc Fabregas is the most suited candidate for the role, although with Napoli’s Jorginho reportedly following Sarri to Chelsea, it appears as though the midfield is sorted.

His two other midfielders have strict roles. The first is required to have a box-to-box engine and is capable of moving forward, but primarily focusing on regaining possession, which suits N’Golo Kanté perfectly. The second must be creative and willing to drive forward, meaning the likes of Ruben Loftus-Cheek or Ross Barkley would have the opportunity to thrive.

Sarri focused his attack on the left wing at Napoli with Lorenzo Insigne, and Eden Hazard is almost the perfect candidate to take the role. He can create chances with his pace, dribbling and movement and will suit Sarri’s tactics. 

His striker must be fluid and able to move around to create space for his teammates. Alvaro Morata, Michy Batshuayi and Olivier Giroud don’t appear to fit this role, which is the only gap in Sarri’s potential tactics.

3. What Signings Does He Need to Make?

Rather than focus on signings, Sarri’s primary goals should be to keep the majority of the squad together. Thibaut Courtois, N’Golo Kanté and Eden Hazard have all been linked with departures, and would need replacing if they do leave.

Jorginho is perfect for a midfield role, but Fabregas would be a solid alternative if Jorginho does not arrive at Chelsea. Should Sarri be able to keep the squad together, the only glaring hole in his tactics is in attack. 

Dries Mertens was crucial to Napoli’s performances, and Chelsea’s current strikers are of a different ilk. Sarri will either be required to mould Morata or Batshuayi into his perfect striker, or search the transfer market for a replacement. Morata and Batshuayi are both agile and opportunistic strikers who could suit Sarri’s tactics, but that remains to be seen.

4. Where Do the Young Players Fit in?

Sarri comes with a questionable reputation of playing youth players. At Empoli, over ten key members of his squad were under 22 years old, so he clearly has no issue with playing young players if they are good enough.

However, his lack of rotation came under fire at Napoli as his squad burned out towards the end of the season. Youth players were barely given any game time, although Napoli’s youth set-up is nowhere near the level of Chelsea’s.

Chelsea have long been regarded as one of the better youth teams in Europe, and the calibre of players in their academy is much higher than Napoli’s. What is clear from his days in Napoli is that if a player is good enough, they are old enough. This thought process may prove key in the development of Chelsea’s talented youngsters.