Hazard leaving Chelsea? – Star set to go after top four failure

After a performance that has been heavily criticised by pundits, Chelsea’s loss to Manchester City has made finishing in the top four look extremely unlikely for the Blues. Champions League football is a must for attracting and keeping top players. Missing out could be a catalyst for Eden Hazard leaving Chelsea.

The Belgian is arguably one of the best players to represent the club. Since joining in the summer of 2012 he has been a key performer for Chelsea. But the possibility of him staying with the Blues for the long haul has been constantly questioned.

Hazard has made no secret of his admiration for current Los Blancos boss Zinedine Zidane and Real Madrid. The temptation for any player to pull on that famous white shirt is enough to worry adoring fans that their current favourites could move at any time.

This summer seems the most likely yet that Hazard leaving Chelsea is a real possibility. Hazard is yet to pen a new deal. Now he may be looking to move on after six seasons in the capital.

When taking a look at Hazard’s Chelsea stats, his potential departure is a major concern for the club.

Is Eden Hazard leaving Chelsea?

It’s easy to see how influential Hazard is for Chelsea. He has been directly involved in 160 goals in his 287 games in all competitions. His two Premier League titles, Europa League and League Cup is an impressive haul of trophies so far.

Hazard has successfully completed 940 dribbles in the Premier League and European competitions since joining Chelsea. That is bettered by Lionel Messi (1045), but not Cristiano Ronaldo (388) or Neymar (861).

Hazard leaving Chelsea – Title defence failure

Although City have taken the league by storm this season, Chelsea’s title defence has been poor to say the least. It’s the second title defence in a row where Chelsea have not been up to the races.

For Hazard to continue his growth as a player and to be recognised as one of the elite he needs to be winning or challenging consistently for a league title every season. That is not happening for him at Chelsea, which will be increasing his frustrations.

Hazard leaving Chelsea – New challenge & Ballon d’Or

A new challenge may be on the Belgian’s mind. As mentioned, he has been with Chelsea for six seasons now. In the modern game longevity is becoming a less frequent feature of a career.

At 27, Hazard is now in his prime years and he arguably has six seasons at left in him at the very top of his game. He will want to be challenging to win the Ballon d’Or year-on-year during that time. While Messi and Ronaldo are still dominating European stats, Hazard is a name that is constantly thrown into the ring for those who are expected to hit the highest levels.

Winning the Ballon d’Or while playing in the Premier League is not a very frequent occurrence. The last time it happened was in 2001. So even with the domination of Messi and Ronaldo from 2008 onwards – it seems unlikely for anything to change any time soon.

Hazard leaving Chelsea – Champions League desire

Winning the Champions League is at the top of the list for every player in Europe. Hazard is facing the prospect of not playing in the competition for the second time in just three seasons. While Chelsea are still in the current round of the competition, they aren’t being backed by many to advance.

His desire to win the competition is natural. It’s all to apparent how difficult it is to win the Champions League while playing with the pressure of what is known as the toughest league in the world.

While doing no discredit to the strength of the remainder of Europe’s top leagues, they are seen as easier routes to having a better chance of winning the Champions League, which may be a factor in Hazard’s decision to move on.

Is Hazard leaving Chelsea this summer?

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Chelsea legend looking to return following MLS spell

Former Chelsea, Arsenal and Roma left back Ashley Cole is hoping for a return to West London after his playing days come to an end in Major League Soccer with LA Galaxy.

In an interview with Soccer AM, Cole revealed he is hoping to work in England after his spell in MLS, with Chelsea his preference: ‘I think I will probably look to go back one day and try to work. I want to work with something to do with Chelsea or scouting or kind of watching the young players develop. In a few years I’ll probably go back to England and try and find a job there.’

Chelsea fans won’t need reminding just how successful Cole was in his eight years at the club, where he arguably became the best left back in European football.

What would Cole bring to Chelsea as a coach?

So let’s have a look at what Ashley Cole could bring to Chelsea as a coach if he returns after his spell with LA Galaxy.

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Winning mentality

Cole is a winner, he has won 16 trophies in his career so far, with nine of those coming at Chelsea.

Chelsea honours:
Premier League – 2009/10
FA Cup – 2006/07, 2008/09, 2009/10, 2011/12
League Cup – 2006/07
UEFA Champions League – 2011/12
UEFA Europa League – 2012/13
FA Community Shield – 2009

He played an integral role throughout Chelsea’s Champions League winning campaign in the 2011/12 season and scored a penalty in their shootout against Bayern Munich.

Cole’s four FA Cup wins with Chelsea give him a total of seven tournament wins overall, including his three at Arsenal. He currently holds the record for the player with the most FA Cup winning medals.

The former England international has won the Premier League three times, twice with Arsenal and he is only one of nine players to reach over 100 caps for the national side.

Defensive positioning 

Cole is renowned for his defensive positioning, notably his clearances off the line. Galaxy fans have already experienced this attribute, with Cole making an incredible goal-line clearance against New York Red Bulls in their last MLS outing, albeit play was eventually bought back for offside. The left back also netted his first goal for the club in the same tie.

Watch: Ashley Cole’s goal-line clearance vs RBNY, credit: LA Galaxy official YouTube.

The former Chelsea man made two game-changing goal-line clearances in their Champions League run in 2012, one against Barcelona and the other against Napoli, both of which probably stopped his side from being dumped out of the tournament they went on to win.

Attacking flare 

Many full-backs are criticised for being too attacking or one attribute overweighing the other, either great going forward and weak at the back or vice-versa. Cole possesses great forward play as well as his defensive quality, an area he would arguably be able to guide upcoming players in.

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In his 337 appearances for Chelsea, Cole netted seven goals and racked up 37 assists. His best scoring season came in their 2009/10 Premier League winning campaign, where he netted four goals, including an incredibly composed strike against Sunderland which saw him win Chelsea’s goal of the season award.

Discipline 

Cole has had his fair share of negative publicity throughout his career, but his discipline on the pitch is exemplary. In his 589 domestic career appearances he has received just five red cards, unfortunately for Galaxy fans two of those have come this season.

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Cole insisted he still has the desire to play on for a while yet and believes the current Galaxy side should be looking at nothing less than winning it all. But at 35 his playing days will soon come to an end and it will be interesting to see where his career takes him from there.

Will Ashley Cole return to Chelsea as a coach? Would this be good for the club?

The Dugout: Why Mourinho will bring instant success to Manchester United

The 2016/17 Premier League season is fast approaching and a number of clubs will start the campaign with new managers. Fans will be expecting more from their team and this time around, ‘The Dugout‘ will assess why Jose Mourinho will bring instant success to Manchester United…

The appointment of Jose Mourinho has excited Manchester United fans on the whole and he has already started his usual antics with the press. The new United manager means business, he has signed some world class players already and more are being linked to the club on a daily basis.

It has always seemed a matter of when rather than if, in terms of Mourinho managing Manchester United, and it looks to have come at the perfect time for the club and the man himself.

In Mourinho’s unveiling as United boss he made a number of bold statements and signalled his intent, saying all the things the fans wanted to hear: “I want everything. I want to win matches, I want to play well, I want to play young players. I want our fans to cheer us defending a lead rather than chasing a lead.”

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So let’s have a look at why United fans can expect instant success with Mourinho

First season silverware…

Mourinho has a brilliant track record of bringing silverware in his first season at clubs.

Porto 2002/03: Primera Liga, UEFA Cup, Taça de Portugal
Chelsea 2004/05: Premier League, League Cup
Inter Milan 2008/09: Serie A, Supercoppa Italianna
Real Madrid 2010/11: Copa del Ray 

Squad revamp… 

Manchester United fans don’t need telling that new signings are a feature of Mourinho’s first season as they have already signed Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Eric Bailly. Negotiations are also underway for a reported world-record £100 million fee for Paul Pogba.

Porto 2002/03: £6.8m – 15 players signed
Chelsea 2004/05: £99.3m – ten players signed 

Inter Milan 2008/09: £43.6m – seven players signed
Real Madrid 2010/11: £62.25m – six players signed

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Consistency…

Mourinho’s consistent ability to win trophies has seen him win at least one trophy each calendar year from 2003-2012. He also retained league titles at Porto (02/03 & 03/04), Chelsea (04/05 & 05/06) and Inter (08/09 & 09/10), while dethroning what has been labelled as one of the best FC Barcelona sides in history with Real Madrid in 2011/12.

The Treble…

Manchester United fans will dream of winning the treble once again and Mourinho has a proven track record of bringing three trophies in a single season. At Porto in the 2002/03 as mentioned above, he won three trophies and in his second season as Inter boss, the historic treble of Serie A, UEFA Champions League and Coppa Italia saw him sign off in style.

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Premier League experience…

Not that United fans will need reminding – Mourinho has won the Premier League three times. He holds the record for the fewest matches taken to rack up 400 points – just 174 games – bettering Sir Alex Ferguson’s 191 and Arsene Wengers 208 games, respectively.

Manchester United fans will be eager for Mourinho to beat the Premier League highest points tally of 95 – a record he achieved in the 04/05 season with Chelsea as he won the league losing just once.

Despite Mourinho’s sour half season with Chelsea in 2015/16, he still boasts the best Premier League win rate of 66% (win rate stats count after 20 or more league games managed).

His current Premier League record stands at 212 games, 140 wins, 44 draws and 28 losses and his overall experience has seen him rack up 513 league games managed with six clubs.

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While there is a huge amount of work for Mourinho to do to bring instant success to United, it is clear enough that he has the ability to return the club to the highest level in his first season. He will be eager to lift his fourth Premier League trophy and bring the Premier League trophy back to Old Trafford for the first time since the 2012/13 season.

Will Mourinho be an instant success at United? Can he win the Premier League?