So, Eden Hazard is (probably) leaving Stamford Bridge. ?Losing him is certainly going to hurt Chelsea fans, but the only thing more painful would be replacing him with Barcelona’s Philippe Coutinho.
The Brazilian has been ?linked with Chelsea as the heir to Hazard’s throne, which would have been alright if this was 2017 and the Blues were signing the Liverpool version of Coutinho. But it is not. It’s definitely not.
It is 2019, and ?Chelsea could be signing the ?Barcelona version of Coutinho, who has arguably been one of the most disappointing signings in European history.
He has five league goals to his name this season. Five. That’s as many as ?Alvaro Morata managed at the start of this season (in less games) before he was booted out of Stamford Bridge, but you don’t see many Chelsea fans calling for him to return any time soon.
The Coutinho of this season is barely worth £1, let alone £100m.
Eden Hazard in the Premier League this season:
Goal contributions — 29 ?
Assists — 13 ?
Key passes from open play — 73 ?
Successful dribbles — 122 ?
MotM awards — 13 ?
WhoScored Rating — 7.81 ?
For more player stats — https://t.co/uLO9OOWM31 pic.twitter.com/7KP1NZ8zF8
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) April 25, 2019
Just think who he would be replacing. ?Hazard has carried this Chelsea side for years. His tally of both goals and assists is leagues ahead of any other player in this squad, and Chelsea need a player who can have a similar impact, or at least a player who can quickly establish himself as one of the league’s finest.
Is Coutinho that man? No. No he is not. Is that going to stop Chelsea? Well, it never has done in the past.
This deal has alarming similarities to the £50m signing of Fernando Torres in 2011. The Spaniard was once worth that amount, but endured a shocking season with ?Liverpool before Chelsea bit the bullet and spent heavily on him. Just look how that turned out.
Falcao’s loan deal was another example. Once one of Europe’s deadliest marksmen, he had just suffered through a humiliating spell with ?Manchester United, but that didn’t stop Chelsea from completing their own expensive signing just weeks later.
It’s time for Chelsea to stop living in the past and take notice of where they are in the world. They need a bona fide star to carry them into the future, and this underwhelming form of Coutinho couldn’t be further from that.
The main alternative appears to be Lille talisman Nicolas Pepe. The 23-year-old is full of belief and confidence, and his tally of 19 goals and 11 assists is exactly the kind of output that Chelsea are crying out for.
Not only are those numbers on par with Hazard this season, but they’re incredibly close to the stat line posted by the Belgian in his final season with Lille, before he moved to Chelsea and became one of the world’s elite.
This should not even be a debate. In no world should the Blues shell out for Coutinho over Pepe but, until the summer transfer window closes, Chelsea fans should be fearful that a deal could arise.