Here are your Chelsea morning headlines for Thursday, February 25.
Hazard slammed by Poyet
Gus Poyet has slammed Eden Hazard over his performances for Real Madrid since his big-money move to the Santiago Bernabeu in 2019.
Hazard moved to the Spanish capital in the summer of 2019 but has struggled to make an impact amid injuries and a decline in form, with the Belgium international playing only 47 of a possible 82 matches.
“It hurts me a lot,” Poyet, who signed for Chelsea in 1997 from La Liga side Real Zaragoza, told Marca. “The year Cristiano Ronaldo left was the ideal time to replace him, he had had a great season with Chelsea.
“When Hazard arrived in Madrid, he suddenly looked older. I don’t think the style of play is the problem, neither is the mentality, it’s physically.
“He has paid the price for some physical problems that have not allowed him to return and have meant he has not returned to his best conditions.
“One of my maxims as a coach is to put players on the pitch with minimal or no excuses, and I don’t think Hazard has ever been like that.
“There was always some excuse: he was at 60 per cent, the team was not good… It’s not Zidane’s fault, the player is depending on himself to face this great challenge of turning it around.”
Giroud continues to prove worth
Olivier Giroud was Chelsea’s matchwinner against Atletico Madrid on Tuesday and in a game that was always going to be decided by fine margins, it was a piece of real quality that tipped the tie in the Blues’ favour.
With the clock ticking over the 69 minute mark, it was no real surprise the scoreline was deadlocked at 0-0. Atletico and their uber-cautious approach, effectively playing a 6-3-1 when Chelsea had the ball, was stifling the Blues.
The closest Thomas Tuchel’s side had come was a couple of snapshots from Timo Werner from tight angles that were never going to seriously trouble one of the world’s best goalkeepers in Jan Oblak.
It was a familiar story for Chelsea, too. They had 71 per cent of the ball in the first half and nothing to show for it, then 63 per cent with nothing to show for until Giroud’s moment of genius.
The Blues were passing Atletico to death but they couldn’t find the killer pass or shot in the final third, something that Tuchel has consistently made a point of as being a concern ever since he replaced Frank Lampard at the club.
Door opened for Haaland transfer
Super-agent Mino Raiola has opened the door for Erling Haaland to move to Chelsea when speaking about the ability of his star client.
Haaland is under contract with Borussia Dortmund until 2024 but holds a minimum fee release clause in his contract of €75 million (£64m) which becomes active in the summer of 2022.
The Norwegian international is believed to be the Blues No1 transfer target this summer despite claims he will spend at least one more season in the Bundesliga.
“It is obvious that everybody is looking at Erling as one of those potential new future stars because it’s so difficult to do what he does at his age at his level,” Raiola, who represents Haaland, told the BBC.
“He will be one of the future stars of the next decade because we see that stars such as Ibrahimovic, Ronaldo and Messi are coming to an age where everyone asks themselves: ‘How long can we still enjoy them?’ So everyone is looking for the new generation.
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“Only a maximum of 10 clubs can afford to buy [Haaland] and give the platform you would like after you’ve been in Dortmund… and four of those clubs are in [England].
“I don’t think there’s a sports director or trainer in the world who would say ‘not interested’. It’s like saying: ‘Is there a Formula 1 team who would not be interested in having Lewis Hamilton?'”