Eden Hazard’s departure last summer left a massive gap in Chelsea’s attack, and while the homegrown youth (and Christian Pulisic!) have done an admirable job of stepping up and stepping in, there is still a sizable void left to fill.
Given time, the likes of Pulisic and Callum Hudson-Odoi could grow into filling that void completely. But whereas last summer that time was available as a consequence of the transfer ban, in the next transfer window, that will no longer be guaranteed — even if the coronavirus pandemic does depress the market.
Accordingly, Chelsea have been linked with various big-name and big-money attacking talent — even after agreeing the transfer of Hakim Ziyech — including Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho (yes please) and Barcelona’s Philippe Coutinho (oh no...). Unfortunately, it’s the latter who seems to be the more feasible target given his failure to impress. It certainly should be easier to secure to deal for the former Liverpool midfielder than engaging in an all-out bidding war for the most in-demand former Manchester City winger, even if that would be the smarter move to try to make.
Or maybe not. Despite the turmoil at his club (or perhaps precisely because of the turmoil ... and the expected negative effect of the pandemic), Barcelona manager Quique Setién wants to see Coutinho back at his club next season.
“Coutinho? I like him very much. He is still a Barcelona player. You have to pay the clause or a transfer fee to Barça [to have him elsewhere].
“I think he can be here at the beginning of next season. I don’t know if he wants to come back or go away again, I have to talk to him to ask him. He is a great player, no doubt about it.”
-Quique Setién; source: RAC1 via Daily Mail
Coutinho just might be the least preferred replacement for Eden Hazard.
So if Setién manages to “save” Chelsea from bringing Coutinho back to England, he will certainly have my thanks.