Antonio Conte admits he can't stop sale of €100 million rated superstar
Is the Chelsea boss hinting at a stunning transfer in the works?
What's the story?
Antonio Conte is not a happy man these days, he lost the FA Community Shield to Arsenal (in that new, fancy, ABBA system - relive it right here in case you missed it), but it's the goings-on, or lack-thereof, in the transfer market this summer. They may have gotten their hands on Monaco's highly rated Tiemoue Bakayoko, Roma's promising Antonio Rudiger, and Real Madrid sharpshooter Alvaro Morata, but the loss of Nemanja Matic (when asked about the Serbian's sale, he replied: "You have to ask to the club about this.") and missing out on Romelu Lukaku to Manchester United hasn't sat well with him. It was the response to a query on Eden Hazard that will have raised the most eyebrows.
The Telegraph have quoted Conte as admitting that he won't be able to stop Eden Hazard's sale if the board decides to go ahead with it:
"You know well that I have great consideration for this player because he is a really top player, but I repeat I am the coach and I can give my opinion; the final decision is always the club’s,” he said.
“I expect for Eden to play with Chelsea. We are trying to improve our squad in the quality. It is not the right moment to lose a player.”
“I can have my opinion,” he said, “then it is for the club. The final decision is always for the club.”
By the looks of what he saw on the field yesterday, he'll certainly be hoping to keep his superstar Belgian for the foreseeable future.
In case you didn't know
Hazard is the attacking impetus around which Antonio Conte built his formidable title-winning side: 16 goals and 5 assists from last season do little justice to the sheer quality that the Belgian brings to the field of play.
The heart of the matter
Eden Hazard is a man in high demand, with both Real Madrid and Barcelona reported as being interested in him. While Madrid's interest is long-standing and reached its heights this January, Barca's interest has solidified post the shocking departure of Neymar Jr. to Paris-Saint Germain last week and they are growing increasingly desperate - while it's the likes of Ousmane Dembele and Philippe Coutinho that are being strongly linked with a move to the Camp Nou, Hazard would make for a much better like-for-like replacement.
The beauty of Eden Hazard in full flow:
Magnificent, isn't it?
This feels very much like Conte is getting advance-bail for himself in case the Hazard transfer does happen; he doesn't want the Blues' fans turning on him the same way they seem to have done on Jose Mourinho