Chelsea started the season with three attacking midfielders in Juan Mata, Oscar and Eden Hazard. Just a few months into the season it became very clear that Mourinho didn’t fancy Mata because the Spaniard didn’t do his share of defensive work. As good as Hazard was, the only reason the Belgian was in the starting lineup was because of his offensive output. And Oscar had become Mourinho’s favorite among the three because the Brazilian was more than happy to do the dirty work in defense.
Fast forward to the January transfer window, Mata was moved on, Oscar had been transformed into a more defensive option and Hazard was the only attacking midfielder at their disposal. Although Hazard was in the starting lineup, it looked as though Mourinho was just looking for the Belgian to make a wrong move to remove him from the lineup.
And, as per Mourinho’s master plan, the Belgian did commit a crime. After being responsible for two of the three goals conceded by your side and being one of the main reasons why your team exited from the Champions League in the semi-finals stage, it is perhaps not the best time to criticize your manager’s tactics. But the Belgian did just that and finally Mourinho could justify dropping the club’s most creative player.
So, what exactly did the reigning PFA Young Player of the Year say that could have angered Mourinho so much? After the semi-final defeat to Atletico, the former Lille winger said:
“Chelsea are not made to play football. We are good on the counter-attack, a bit like Real against Bayern Munich. Often, I’m asked to do it all by myself and it’s not easy.”
What followed was a public criticism of the player by Mourinho, which fuelled rumors that the pair had fallen out. Although Hazard claimed otherwise in an interview with the in-house magazine, it looked as though Mourinho had made up his mind. With PSG reportedly interest in Hazard and willing to pay £50m to secure his services, things don’t look so good for Hazard. Especially given the fact that Mourinho had already sold one player who didn’t fit in to his plans.
One thing Mourinho has been saying ever since he signed for the club has been that, he doesn’t have any real strikers. Although Chelsea are reportedly close to signing Diego Costa, Mourinho is still on the lookout for another striker. And his love for PSG’s Edinson Cavani might mean that Mourinho would be interested in swapping Hazard for Uruguayan hitman. Now, the question remains, will Mourinho be proven right?
While it is certainly true that Chelsea really need strikers, is selling their best player of the current season to fund the arrival of a striker the best way to go about it? As good as Cavani might be, he will still need service from midfield, so as to flourish. If Hazard leaves, Chelsea will be left with just Oscar, Willian and Mohamed Salah as his attacking midfielders. The latter has just arrived in England and the former two have, under Mourinho been more effective than entertaining.
Although the presence of two world class striker will finally stop Mourinho cringing about his strike force, the attacking midfield would be laid bare, with the departure of Hazard. Especially, if either of the three pick up an injury. Even if Mourinho decides to go for another attacking midfielder, just to make up the numbers, the fact is, they don’t cc cheap. And if he wants someone of the quality of Hazard, then that is certain to make his job all the more difficult, especially with FFP in place.
More pertinent than that, one thing Mourinho has going for him thus far has been the support of the fans. Even though he sold the two-time Chelsea Player of the Year (Mata), he still had the fans’ support, but selling Hazard, the club’s current Player of the Year might be a decision that might not go down well with the fans. Neither the fans, nor the owner, who wants his side to play free-flowing attacking football will be too happy about the prospect of the club’s most creative player being shown the door, just because Mourinho thinks he doesn’t defend enough.
All things considered, selling Hazard will certainly be a mistake on Mourinho’s part, one that won’t go down well with the players, owner or the fans. And whilst the arrival of a quality center forward in Cavani is certainly good news, if that comes at the cost of Hazard, then it might not seem as much, for Chelsea.