As Big Ben chimed to usher in both the New Year and the winter transfer window, Jose Mourinho was sitting in a pretty good position, all things considered.
Not only were Chelsea sitting comfortably just off of top spot in the league, but, probably more time specific, in contrast to the other teams vying for the title, there really wasn’t much needed to be done with the squad.
Unlike Manchester United, who are in dire need of a squad overhaul, Chelsea can boast a sound presence in virtually all areas of the pitch and, with the exception of strikers who have thus far faltered in finding the net, there isn’t a position Mourinho is likely to lose sleep over.
Aside from the relatively simple issue of Kevin de Bruyne, which looks increasingly like it will be solved by his imminent sale to Wolfsburg, and an unfortunate circumstance wherein Juan Mata doesn’t really know if he wants to stay or go, it’s safe to say that the Special One looked set for a relatively easy transfer period.
Of course all notion of that would have put to an abrupt end when the now irresistible Paris Saint-Germain registered their interest in his star performer.
Not content with casting their insatiable eyes over Mata alone, they appear now to have turned to the only man who can count himself as having been equal to the Spaniard at Stamford Bridge in the last two seasons: Eden Hazard.
Let’s not beat around the bush, the Belgian is of paramount importance for Mourinho. Whilst Mata can leave without causing too much of a kerfuffle in the grand scheme of things and the likes of Ramires and David Luiz- who have also been linked with exits- aren’t going to make or break the Blues’ long-term ambitions, there is only one Eden Hazard.
Fans know this, the players will most probably know this and Mourinho definitely knows this. It’s why he’s valued so highly and, more decisively, why the Blues boss is already trying to convince Roman Abramovich to offer the 22-year-old a lucrative new deal.
But alas, as of yet, Hazard’s future past 2017- when his current contract is up- remains a topic of hot debate. What’s more it means that there is scope for PSG to carry through with their threat of launching a spectacular €60million raid in the summer.
Since their mega-money takeover the Parisian giants have not only targeted some of the biggest names in Europe; they’ve managed to rally them to their cause. The likes of Thiago Silva, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani were all at one point considered indispensable commodities for their respective clubs, but PSG’s financial backing proved too much. If Chelsea aren’t careful, Hazard could quite easily join the list.
The harsh reality is that PSG will not relent in their pursuit until he is either plying his trade on a weekly basis at the Parc des Princes, or has effectively made a transfer away from Chelsea impossible by penning a new deal.
A move for the former Lille man looks highly unlikely this window but in the summer it can be put beyond reasonable doubt that Laurent Blanc and co. will launch a post-season offensive if there remains but a hint of a chance that they could get him.
What’s more, Hazard’s history in Ligue 1 would suggest that he may be open to a return to his old haunts. That’s not even taking into account the financial incentives that the deal would allude do as, somewhat unbelievably given Abramovich’s billions, PSG could probably double whatever Chelsea are prepared to offer him.
Mourinho may have been sitting pretty coming into this window, and a betting man would be wise for banking on him being in a similar position at its end. However, if they can’t tie Hazard down to a long-term deal soon then the summer period could well hit Chelsea where it hurts most.