No Hazard, no problem? Chelsea’s Brave New World

Another excellent youngster to emerge recently from what has been one of the world’s best talent factories has been Ola Aina. The 22-year-old joined Torino in an £8.7m ($10.6m) deal this summer following a successful loan spell, having earlier spent eight years in Chelsea’s academy.

Like Sammut, Aina has been very positive about the future of Chelsea’s young charges.

“I think the young ones can come in [to the first team] and show what they are about,” Aina told Goal. “It would be good for them because I don’t think there will be as much pressure on them due to the transfer ban.

“Chelsea have to make do with what they have, which has been a talented bunch of guys out on loan and in the academy. I think a lot of the guys are ready. Mason Mount, Fikayo Tomori, Tammy Abraham and even young Reece James.

“Reece has only had one season on loan but if you throw people like that into the deep end, then they will come out for you. We already know Callum Hudson-Odoi can handle the pressure of playing for Chelsea.”

Not since John Terry’s emergence the best part of two decades ago have products from Chelsea’s academy been allowed to prosper in the first team.

The big question now, though, has been are the current batch – along with £58m ($70m) American signing Christian Pulisic – good enough? And, specifically, are they good enough to replace the outgoing Hazard?

The world-class Belgian attacker has been Chelsea’s undoubted superstar for most of the seven glorious seasons he spent at Stamford Bridge.

This summer, he joined Real Madrid in an £88m ($107m) deal – and he takes with him an incredible 21 goals and 18 assists that he contributed last term.

Hazard’s brilliance will not be easily substituted, as outlined by another Chelsea icon in Didier Drogba.

“He has been a legend, look at what he achieved at the club,” Drogba told Goal. “He won the league twice, won the FA Cup, was named Player of the Year. We are talking about Eden Hazard. Please!



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