It is looking almost certain that next season Maurizio Sarri will have a big Eden Hazard-shaped hole at Chelsea to deal with.
The 28-year-old continues to be linked with a move to Real Madrid, with Sky Sports reporting that the Spanish giants are confident of getting their man.
And should that happen, according to BBC Sport‘s David Ornstein, the west London club could look to Barcelona’s Philippe Coutinho to fill that very large hole Hazard is set to leave behind.
How, though, does the Brazilian compare to the man he could be replacing?
Though Coutinho has probably played the best football of his career as a midfielder, the 26-year-old is still a very capable winger, so it is not a surprise to see Chelsea earmark him as a potential Hazard replacement.
He can dribble, cut inside, pass and shoot, making him ideal for a forward position.
He is not as quick as Hazard, though, while at Barcelona it has not quite worked out for him down that left flank.
Considering that, you can understand any reservations Chelsea supporters may have about signing the Brazil international.
But even so, there is no denying Coutinho’s talent. He is still a world-class player and, as he showed at Liverpool, he can cause absolute havoc down that left-hand side.
TT Grade: A-
It is some boots Coutinho will have to fill should he arrive at Stamford Bridge as Hazard’s successor.
The Belgian was at his brilliant best this season, providing the most amount of assists in the Premier League while also finishing the campaign as Chelsea’s top goalscorer.
With his incredible dribbling, vision and finishing, Hazard managed to drag Sarri’s men to a third-place finish.
Without him, Chelsea probably would have been fighting against the likes of Wolves and Watford for seventh. In his absence, the Blues have been that poor, unable to conjure up anything in attack.
No pressure, Coutinho.
TT Grade: A*
Coutinho alone will not be able to make up for the loss of Hazard. In this Chelsea side, the Belgium captain is both the chief creator and leading goalscorer.
Bearing that in mind, the Blues will probably need to sign a new striker, on top of Coutinho, once Hazard departs.
While he would certainly be a good addition, Coutinho is still an inferior player to Hazard and does not look capable of producing the same numbers as the Chelsea man.
Chelsea fans, can Coutinho replace Hazard if the Blues’ transfer ban is frozen? Join the discussion by commenting below.
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