How Chelsea could line-up with Eden Hazard and three transfers next summer
Chelsea 3-1 Southampton: Picture highlights
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Chelsea have been linked with the sensational return of club icon Eden Hazard from Real Madrid. The forward would present boss Thomas Tuchel with yet another attacking option, to go with several other recent big-money signings. Here, Express Sport looks at how the Blues could line-up next season if Hazard arrives alongside three other transfer targets.
Goalkeeper: Edouard Mendy
Mendy has solidified his place as Chelsea’s first-choice goalkeeper, pipping Kepa Arrizabalaga to the role under Tuchel.
The shot-stopper has been in excellent form this term. He produced a memorable performance against Aston Villa earlier in the campaign.
Only in the 3-0 victory against Tottenham did Mendy not feature. An injury kept him out and Arrizabalaga performed well.
But Mendy has been back between the sticks for each of Chelsea’s three matches since.
Unless owner Roman Abramovich sanctions a surprise big-money move for a goalkeeper, the 29-year-old Senegalese will sure be No 1 next term.
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Centre-backs: Cesar Azpilicueta, Jules Kounde and Andreas Christensen
Tuchel faces his most pressing issues in defence. Azpilicueta, Rudiger and Christensen are all out of contract at the end of the season.
Christensen is widely expected to pen renewed terms but there has been no news on his defensive colleagues.
Presuming the long-serving Azpilicueta signs a fresh deal, he will take up one of the roles in Tuchel’s back three.
The least likely to agree a new contract of the trio is Rudiger, who is widely understood to be considering his options.
If the German leaves, Tuchel could be forced to go back in for Sevilla centre-back Kounde. Chelsea tried hard to acquire the Frenchman in the summer but had their efforts thwarted.
Wing backs: Reece James and Ben Chilwell
England pair James and Chilwell could stake a claim to be the first-choice Three Lions full-backs for the World Cup by having a good start to the 2022-23 season.
Both have strong competition in Gareth Southgate’s squad, with James competing with the likes of Kyle Walker and Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Manchester United’s Luke Shaw currently seems to be ahead of Chilwell despite the former Leicester man scoring against Andorra on Saturday.
Chilwell has found himself behind Marcos Alonso at Chelsea for most of this season. However, the 24-year-old will be keen to be Tuchel’s preferred wing-back prior to next winter’s World Cup.
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Central midfielders: Aurelien Tchouameni and N’Golo Kante
Tuchel now has several players available in midfield but could seek to refresh his options in the summer.
Star man Jorginho sees his contract end in 2023 while Saul Niguez’s loan from Atletico Madrid seems unlikely to be made permanent given that he has already fallen out of favour.
Each of Kante, Jorginho, Saul and Mateo Kovacic will be above 27 by the time next season begins, so Tuchel might want a fresher face in the middle.
Chelsea are one of several European clubs reportedly interested in signing France starlet Tchouameni.
The 21-year-old has been outstanding for Monaco and impressed in France’s Nations League final victory over Spain on Sunday.
Attack: Ousmane Dembele, Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard
Attacking midfield is another area where Tuchel’s options are stacked. The former Borussia Dortmund head coach has preferred Mason Mount and Kai Havertz in the two roles behind Lukaku.
However, Chelsea have been linked with two more players who could replace Mount and Havertz.
Stamford Bridge favourite Hazard is reportedly of interest to the Blues, who could complete a remarkable return according to El Nacional.
The Belgian has struggled for form since his blockbuster £100m transfer to Real, scoring a measly five goals in 51 appearances. It is a stark contrast on his Chelsea record of 110 In 352 matches.
Another reported target is Barcelona attacker Dembele, whose contract is due to expire at the end of the season.
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