Chelsea transfer ban plan, Part 7 of 7: Wingers and strikers

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 02: Eden Hazard of Chelsea scores his team's third goal past Karlan Grant of Huddersfield Town during the Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Huddersfield Town at Stamford Bridge on February 2, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 02: Eden Hazard of Chelsea scores his team's third goal past Karlan Grant of Huddersfield Town during the Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Huddersfield Town at Stamford Bridge on February 2, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images) /

Chelsea may have to go through next season with only the players at the squad and in the loan army. Which wingers and forwards could pull them through a transfer ban?

On the roster: Eden Hazard, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Pedro, Christian Pulisic, Michy Batshuayi, Tammy Abraham, Olivier Giroud

Wingers Department

Assuming Eden Hazard and Callum Hudson-Odoi stay beyond this season, the summer arrival of Christian Pulisic would mean Chelsea’s winger department would remain one of the strongest in the league despite the transfer ban. With Hazard, Pulisic, Pedro and Hudson-Odoi all in the team, Chelsea’s wide men would simultaneously boast some of the best future and current football stars in the world.

At 28, Eden Hazard is already at the top of his game. He has single handedly dragged Chelsea to league titles and was, without a doubt, the best player at the World Cup. While he may not be the best goal scorer, his phenomenal ability to create chances when on the ball would mean that more often than not, he is the team’s greatest source of creativity and goal scoring opportunities.

Perhaps more significantly, however, the psychological boost Hazard provides for his teammates, as all great players do, truly solidifies his claim as one the best players in the world.

At the end of the day, Hazard’s influence on the team cannot be understated. As dangerous as it sounds, Eden Hazard is Chelsea and Chelsea is Eden Hazard. This season alone has seen Hazard directly contribute to 45% of Chelsea’s total goals in the Premier League, highlighting just how crucial it would be to ensure the Belgian’s continued stay in SW6, especially with a transfer ban in play.

Despite his age, Christian Pulisic is already the youngest ever United States Men’s National Team captain at just 20 years old and he may just become the greatest American football star of all time with Chelsea. Having started to play at the highest levels of European football at just 17, Pulisic’s talents as a football player are undeniable.

His time in Germany has yielded 17 goals and 25 assists so far. While that might not be all that impressive, considering the number of games he has played, Pulisic’s age leaves much opportunity for improvement. Brought in as a like-for-like substitute for the aging Willian and Pedro, Pulisic, together with Callum Hudson-Odoi, could very much become a vital and exciting part of Chelsea’s future.

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Following Callum Hudson-Odoi’s call up into the national team this international break, it has become more than apparent, the talent that the young 18 year old possesses. This season, Hudson-Odoi has seen his play time limited due to the manager’s preference for Willian and Pedro.

This has given rise to huge transfer speculation around the England international. Hudson-Odoi’s ability to remain focused whenever he is on the pitch highlights just how emotionally and psychologically apt he is as a youngster fighting at the pinnacle of English football.

In the limited time he has had on the field, Hudson-Odoi has already recorded five goals and assists apiece. Chelsea would do best to convince him to extend his stay at the club, especially with the transfer ban looming overhead. Hudson-Odoi is the future of Chelsea and this transfer ban would provide a unique opportunity for the manager to find greater use for him on the field or risk losing him for good altogether.

Pedro is the choice when it came to the selection of the final winger to be on the team for the 2019/20 season. His vast experiences and knowledge of the game, having played for one of the best clubs in Europe and with some of the best players of all time, make him the most obvious candidate to serve as a mentor/backup to the two young wingers on the team.

Much like how Willy Caballero would be providing much needed advice and guidance to the next generation of emerging goalkeepers at the club, a similar role would be expected of Pedro on the team.

Moreover, Pedro’s age has to be taken into account when considering the potential transfer fee he could command as compared to Willian. Although Willian’s output does leave much to be desired, Chelsea’s Brazilian winger still has much to offer for most teams in and out of Europe and at 30, could still muster up a final big money move out of the club. As a result, Pedro would emerge as the most likely candidate to fill up the fourth and final winger spot at the club next season regardless of whether a transfer ban does in fact come to fruition.

As for the likes of Kenedy and Charly Musonda, they would never be enough for Chelsea FC. While both are arguably quality players on their day, Kenedy’s career has somewhat stagnated as Musonda’s has regressed with loan moves to Newcastle and Vitesse respectively. At 23 and 22 years old, Musonda and Kenedy have failed to live up to expectations following their breakthrough into the first team picture four years prior.

Put simply, time has already ran out for the duo to prove themselves as future prospects for the club, especially with the emergence of Pulisic and Hudson-Odoi into the first team next season. As such, the club would do best to move them both on.

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With the right mixture of talent and experience, a combination of Hazard, Pedro, Pulisic and Hudson-Odoi would serve as a comfortable source of options in the wider, attacking areas, making it my most preferred selection for the 2019/2020 season.

Striker Department

Now, this is where the going is really going to get real tough. Assuming Gonzalo Higuain cannot be tied down to a permanent contract due to the ban, realistically speaking, Chelsea would only have three striking options next season and truth be told, not any one of them are particularly great.

First up would be Michy Batshuayi. While the 25-year old is most certainly great on social media, the same cannot be said for his performances on the pitch this season.

At Valencia, Batshuayi was only able to find the net thrice in 23 appearances for the club who since terminated his loan from Chelsea. Considering how many fans had touted him to be the “next Didier Drogba” following his transfer from Marseille in 2016, Batshuayi’s career at Chelsea has certainly been a massive disappointment.

The Belgian was then shipped off once more to Crystal Palace in January where he has similarly struggled to score on a consistent basis. While he does offer great movement in the box and does provide moments of brilliance, Batshuayi really is not good enough to be the main man up front for Chelsea, if not for the lack of available options within the club. His touch, hold up play and overall movement are all subpar.

If it really boils down to either Batshuayi, Olivier Giroud or Tammy Abraham next season, things are certainly not looking great for the club up front next season.

Next, would be the “best target man in the world,” Olivier Giroud. Honestly, Giroud is not a striker. His goal scoring stats outside of the Europa League this season, as well as during the latter part of last season under Antonio Conte, have not been fantastic. The primary job of a striker is to score and, much like Batshuayi, Giroud’s inability to find the net on a regular basis would mean he cannot be and should not be the number one up front next season.

Moreover, Giroud has openly indicated a desire for a move back to France, or a “step down” in his own words, in search of more regular game time. He is clear he would not accept anything less than a frequent starting role at the club.

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Once again, Giroud offers no clear cut answer to Chelsea’s striking problem next season and considering the £110 million the club has already spent on strikers in the past three windows alone, questions have to be raised with regards to the quality of business conducted at Chelsea.

Last but not least, would be the local boy, Tammy Abraham. He tore up the championship two seasons ago and is still tearing it up this season with Aston Villa. However, during a season long Premier League loan move to Swansea which was sandwiched in between his two Championship loans in the 2017/2018 season, he genuinely struggled to adapt to the physicality of the Premier League, scoring just five times in 31 appearances.

The step up from the second to the first tier of football in England is not something which everyone can cope with and as of now, Tammy Abraham remains a “there but not quite” player who has not convinced everyone.

The jury is still out as to whether Abraham is even capable enough to deputize for either one of Giroud or Batshuayi and it really is not looking all that bright up front for the Blues.

The striker position should be the main reason for concern among fans next season. They better hope that a transfer ban is not in place come 1 July 2019. The complete lack of options up front within the club would mean that addition reinforcements are a must to ensure the continued competitiveness of the club, especially if Chelsea were to qualify for the Champions League next season.

Moreover, a transfer ban would mean the likes of Nicolas Pepe and Luka Jovic would remain off limits for Chelsea, both of whom could potentially be huge losses for the club should they opt to move next summer.

Next. Chelsea transfer ban plan part six: Fullbacks and centermids. dark

Nonetheless, Chelsea fans should not be all that fazed by the prospect of an impending transfer ban for most of the positions at the club. Chelsea remain in possession of some of the most talented youth team players in world football. The one season ban could be seen as a blessing in disguise and is a clear cut chance for these players to finally showcase their talents, wearing the blue of Chelsea FC.