Chelsea have identified Barcelona attacker Philippe Coutinho as the ideal man to replace Eden Hazard, as he nears a switch to Real Madrid.
According to Cadena Ser, the Blues are bracing themselves to lose the Belgian winger during the summer transfer window, with the Blancos thought to be readying an offer in excess of £100million.
Such a loss would be devastating for Chelsea given Hazard’s status as one of Europe’s finest players and with an impending transfer ban set to prevent the club from signing any replacement, Maurizio Sarri’s squad may be significantly weakened.
However, the Stamford Bridge outfit are still hopeful of overturning their ban, having already confirmed they will take their appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Cadena Ser report that Chelsea are prepared to reinvest funds raised from the sale of Hazard in Barcelona’s Coutinho, who could be available for around £90million – in the event they are granted a transfer reprieve.
The Brazilian superstar has not yet managed to win over the Camp Nou faithful, coming under intense criticism for his performances since joining the club from Liverpool in January 2018.
Barca are ready to cut their losses and Chelsea are the only club to have registered official interest in the 26-year-old, with Roman Abramovich hopeful he can fill Hazard’s boots in the long-term.
Coutinho was a huge hit during his time at Anfield in the Premier League and he would be a great asset for Sarri heading into the 2019-20 campaign, but there is still a long way to go before any deal can be agreed.
The Brazil international has not yet hit the same heights as Hazard at the very highest level and his time at Barca has raised more questions over his ability to function in a team full of world-class players.
However, being a bigger fish in a smaller pond might actually suit Coutinho better and Chelsea are well placed to land his signature if they solve their legal woes in the coming weeks.
Hazard’s time in the Premier League appears to be coming to an end, but the ex-Liverpool man could end up being a worthy successor after a frustrating spell in La Liga, which makes this story one to keep a close eye on as it develops.