The Hard Tackle takes a look at the key news stories surrounding Premier League leaders Chelsea from the day.
Chelsea continued their charge towards reclaiming the Premier League title as they beat Hull City 2-0 on the weekend to increase their lead on top of the table. Ahead of the visit of Brentford in the FA Cup on Saturday, here’s a roundup of everything happening in and around Stamford Bridge.
Cole: Hazard Will Become Chelsea’s Greatest Ever Player
Former Chelsea player Joe Cole believes that Eden Hazard will go down in history as the club’s greatest ever player. Cole also mentioned that Hazard is, in his opinion, the most talented all-round footballer and a hero for the Chelsea fans.
Cole told CFC Fan TV, “I think he’ll go down as Chelsea’s greatest player. He’s certainly the most talented all-round footballer I’ve played with and he’s already a hero with the fans. I hope he stays there for the rest of his career.”
Hazard has already achieved so much ever since moving to Stamford Bridge from Lille in 2012, winning Chelsea’s Player of the Year twice and clinching the Premier League, EFL Cup and the UEFA Europa League in nearly five years with the Blues.
After a horrible 2015/16 season, the Belgium international looks to be back to his very best in this campaign, having already bagged nine goals and three assists so far. However, it remains to be seen if he can upstage the likes of John Terry, Frank Lampard and Gianfranco Zola to become the greatest Chelsea player of all time.
Begovic Transfer On Hold
The transfer of Asmir Begovic to Bournemouth this month has reportedly been put on hold, with Chelsea sweating over scouting a suitable replacement for their second choice goalkeeper. The Blues are looking for a goalkeeper who will be willing to be a backup to Thibaut Courtois.
It has been a tough season for Begovic at Chelsea as he has struggled to get minutes of first team football under his belt. With Courtois back to his best levels this season, Begovic has been restricted to just three EFL Cup and one FA Cup appearance so far in the current campaign.
With Begovic looking to play more first team football while he is in the prime of his career, a move for Bournemouth looked to be on the horizon. However, despite Antonio Conte’s confirmation that they would let the Bosnian move in January it looks like he could be starting on the weekend while Chelsea secure a transfer for his replacement.
Could Craig Gordon Be The Replacement?
Speaking of Begovic’s replacement and Chelsea might have identified Celtic goalkeeper Craig Gordon to replace the 29-year-old Bosnia international. The Daily Mirror have reported that Craig Gordon is one of the players on Antonio Conte’s shortlist to replace Begovic.
The report also adds that Diego Lopez – who is on loan at Espanyol from AC Milan – and Fernando Muslera of Galatasaray are the other two options that Conte is considering. With Begovic eager to seal a move to Bournemouth in the summer it looks likely that the Chelsea boss will zero in on the Bosnian’s replacement soon.
Meanwhile, Eduardo Carvalho who is keen to play and prove himself for Chelsea in the FA Cup fourth round tie against Brentford on Saturday. However, it looks likely that he will continue to remain the third choice goalkeeper at Stamford Bridge for the foreseeable future.
Keylor Navas on Chelsea’s Radar?
Goalkeepers seem to be the flavour of this roundup, and Chelsea are reportedly interested in making a move for current Real Madrid number one Keylor Navas. But they won’t be alone in their pursuit of the Costa Rican goalkeeper, with Manchester City also hot on the trails of Navas.
Keylor Navas’ time as Real Madrid’s first choice goalkeeper may be coming to an end soon. Los Blancos are reportedly eyeing Manchester United’s David De Gea and Chelsea’s Thibaut Courtois and the Spanish giants are interested in bringing either of the goalkeepers to the Santiago Bernabeu next season.
And Chelsea are looking to get a favour in return, as they look set to make a move for Navas if Courtois goes the other way to Spain. However, they will face some stiff competition, with Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City also interested in the Real Madrid goalkeeper.
Chelsea Call Off Van Dijk Pursuit
Chelsea have reportedly called off their pursuit to land Southampton captain Virgil van Dijk after the Netherlands international was cruelly ruled out for three months with the ankle injury he sustained in Southampton’s 3-0 win over Leicester City on the weekend.
Chelsea were looking to add some more centre-backs among their ranks with club captain John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic reaching the end of their careers at Stamford Bridge, and Kurt Zouma still finding his feet after recovering from a knee injury.
However, it now looks like Chelsea will drop their interest in van Dijk until the summer, or they might turn their attention towards some other central defender if they deem a reinforcement necessary in the winter transfer window.