Ex-Chelsea striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink does not feel Christian Pulisic or Callum Hudson-Odoi are capable of replacing Eden Hazard.
The Sun reports that the Blues have agreed on a £115 million fee with Real Madrid over the sale of Hazard, with his transfer to the Spanish capital expected to be confirmed after the Europa League final.
The continental clash against Arsenal on Wednesday night will likely be the Belgian’s last game for Chelsea, as the club faces up to the prospect of losing a prized asset after seven years of service.
Christian Pulisic will arrive at Stamford Bridge from Borussia Dortmund this summer having signed a pre-contract agreement back in January and he has been tipped to make an immediate impact on Maurizio Sarri’s squad.
Meanwhile, Callum Hudson-Odoi will be expected to step up in Hazard’s absence next season, assuming his recovery from injury goes well over the next couple of months.
Both men could combine to help soften the blow of Hazard’s departure, but according to Hasselbaink, Chelsea would be wrong to put their trust in the dynamic duo.
The Dutchman, who earned legendary status for the Blues in the pre-Roman Abramovich era between 2000 and 2004, feels his old club must focus on improving in every area in order to successfully fill a Hazard-shaped void next term.
Hasselbaink told your-promotional-code.co.uk: “For Chelsea to improve without Hazard, it has to be a collective effort. If you look to replace him, it’s the wrong thing to do.
“Nobody is going to be ready to come in and fill his boots. It’s not fair for Calum Hudson-Odoi or Christian Pulisic to step in, it will be too much on their shoulders.
“Chelsea need to strengthen, find a balance in the squad, and focus on the team as a whole; not individuals.”
Sarri managed to guide Chelsea to third place in the Premier League this season, largely due to the fact Hazard enjoyed his best campaign yet in terms of numbers for the club.
The 28-year-old contributed 16 goals and 15 assists in 37 appearances and seemed to thrive in the Italian’s unique set-up, which focuses on quick passing interchanges and movement.
Meanwhile, Hudson-Odoi enjoyed an impressive breakout season for the Blues, but at 18-years-old, he cannot yet be expected to follow in his illustrious teammate’s footsteps.
Pulisic will also add a new dimension to Chelsea’s attack, but he is unlikely to bring the same number of goals and assists as Hazard, which means Hasselbaink’s warning will need to be heeded.
A new era will be ushered in at Stamford Bridge next season and the focus must be on becoming a stronger all-round unit under Sarri, with an over-reliance on individuals unlikely to garner any long-term success.