Chelsea identify Philippe Coutinho as ideal replacement for Eden Hazard

FC Barcelona v Villarreal CF - La Liga

Eden Hazard admitted after the Europa League final that he wants to join Real Madrid after seven years as a Chelsea player.

The Belgian winger, who scored twice in Chelsea’s 4-1 victory over Arsenal in Baku, is now waiting for the two clubs to reach an agreement over his transfer fee.

“I’ve taken my decision already, I've said that two weeks ago,” Hazard told BT Sport. “Now it depends on the club, both clubs. I'm just waiting like the fans wait, we will know in a couple of days.

“I think it's a goodbye, but in football you never know. My dream was to play in the Premier League, I did it for seven years. Maybe now it's time for a new challenge.”

Replacing Hazard with a player of similar quality will be extremely difficult, even for a club with the financial might of Chelsea.

The 28-year-old, who has scored 21 goals in 52 games for the Blues this season, is one of the world’s best footballers - on the tier just below Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Philippe Coutinho was also on the same tier before his move from Liverpool to Barcelona in January 2018, but his reputation has suffered over the past year-and-a-half.


Coutinho became the third most expensive footballer of all time, behind Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, when he joined Barça in a deal worth £142 million.

But the Brazilian has failed to make a significant impact at the Camp Nou and the club’s fans have failed to warm to him, leaving his future with the Catalan giants far from certain.

However, Chelsea have not been put off by his underwhelming performances, according to a new report from Spanish daily Marca.

They understand that the Europa League winners have identified Coutinho as an ideal replacement for the want-away Hazard and are keeping close tabs on his situation.


They are keen on Coutinho due to his proven track record in the Premier League, as well as his similar characteristics to Hazard.

Of course, there is one rather big problem that Chelsea must overcome in order to sign Coutinho this summer.

They are currently banned from making new signings until July 2020 for infringing the regulations on international transfers of players under the age of 18 and are waiting on the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) for permission to make transfers.

Chelsea v Arsenal - UEFA Europa League Final

If their transfer ban is overturned by CAS, then Coutinho’s next destination might well be Stamford Bridge.

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