The way forward for Chelsea Football Club
- With Hazard leaving and the upcoming transfer ban, these are difficult times for Chelsea.
Saying that Chelsea had a roller-coaster of a season this previous campaign, is an understatement. Winning the Europa League and qualifying for the Champions League have masked some of the major issues that this team has undergone – notably the struggle to adjust to the style of football that Maurizio Sarri has tried to enforce. While this style has been effective at Napoli, it's been far from impressive in the Premier League with far more high-press and intense play every single week.
Now with Eden Hazard's transfer to Real Madrid, Sarri's polarizing coaching style and not to forget the potential transfer ban that might be enforced, it is key for Chelsea to make the right decisions to avoid further drama at the club.
Here's what Chelsea need to do in the upcoming summer:
Hiring a Sporting Director
In the past few years, Chelsea has splashed a lot of money in efforts to buy players, a few players not worth the price tag. Kepa Arrizabalaga and Christian Pulisic together cost close to €150 million, a hefty sum for unproven young players. Added to the excessive spending, there is a strong notion that the manager, staff, and team do not have a lot to say in the club's spending.
Hiring a sporting director who is knowledgeable in club internal affairs and the transfer market situation would be very beneficial to the club. This director would open up a line of communication between the Director of Football (Marina Granovskaia) and the team to help improve transfer decisions.
Development of young Chelsea stars
This is the first season in a long time that Chelsea has had a few youngsters get significant playing time through the season. Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi when healthy, were key role players for the team with numerous impactful performances. Once they both recover from their injuries, they would return to be key players for the team.
There are many other young Chelsea players out on loan that deserve similar opportunities. Tammy Abraham (Striker), Mason Mount (Midfield) and Fikayo Tomori (Defender) are three players with immense talent and potential that should be getting more opportunities in the first-team. This is not to say that they would immediately come in and dominate, but it would be a step towards their development long-term.
Change in the footballing culture
The last 5 years at Chelsea has been the "Hazard Show", which with all the great moments and trophies, was not the right way for the team. Chelsea failed to bring stars to the club to support Hazard and this laid the burden on Hazard to create and deliver night in and night out. This also gave an opportunity for other players on the team to avoid taking responsibility and stepping up for games consistently. A prime example of this is Willian. He's a player who's been at the club for more than 4 years and apart from a few moments here and there, he has been virtually ineffective and somehow remains to be a key name on the team sheet.
With Hazard out of the club and no superstar there to replace him, Chelsea would need to adapt to a team style of football involving constant movement and high work-rate. This would help develop Chelsea's attack-minded identity which has been lacking for the past few seasons. If players don't fit this style, they should be replaced with others in the squad who are willing to step up and deliver. This is the modern era of football.
Though some of these moves might impact Chelsea negatively in the short term, the long term prospect would look beautiful. The Chelsea management will need to be patient and trust the process for this to work!