A Contribution Post via Waleed Ibrahim.
One thing must be made clear before tackling this topic; Eden Hazard is irreplaceable.
To say there is a viable option in the transfer market that can come in and regularly do what Eden does for us is a very misplaced claim.
Signing Pulisic was definitely not an attempt to directly replace Eden. If anything, it was to help refresh the age gap Willian and Pedro current leave in the squad.
Having said all that, Chelsea may be able to tackle his absence in a different way. Instead of relying on a single player to fulfil Eden’s duties, it should instead become shared across the team.
Chelsea scored a total of 63 goals this season, of which Eden influenced 31 of them. If Chelsea want to maintain the same level of success, they need players to step up and fill in for the gaping hole. If we can spread the responsibility over to say 6 goals/assists more per Chelsea player, we stand a much better chance of attaining goals and therefor a better positioning in the Premier League.
All this may not be possible next season however. It is important to realise that losing a key player like Eden, serving a transfer ban and manager doubts will have a severe backlash to our squad next season.
It would be foolish to believe that Chelsea have any chance of attaining any silverware next season given the above predicaments. Instead, Chelsea should look at this as a long term process. This is a unique chance for our club to nurture youngsters and set plans for a long term squad thanks to the lowered expectations of next season. It gifts us ample time and opportunity to sort our problems and devise a plan on how to not only fill in for Eden’s absence but instead build on it.
As massive as Hazard has been, his biggest strategical fault was that he held the ball for too long and would sometimes outrun his own teammates. This was usually not a huge problem for us as it would be the only hope we had to conjure a proper attacking chance, but not having this provides us with a chance to rectify this fault. Players not having the failsafe option of passing to Eden and reorganising means they will be required to keep their focus for longer and play without that safety net. It pushes our players to become better in their roles.
Although initially troubling, this situation can bring out the best (or worst) in our players. It will provide us with a clearer indication of who is worthy of playing successfully in this ‘modern attacking football’ era.
This information will be invaluable to building a long term squad. Although there are clear disadvantages to Eden leaving, I firmly believe that if handled properly Chelsea can use this to their advantage. Its all about how they deal with his absence, making it a key point to look out for next season.