Pre-season is officially underway and we got the first glimpse of Sarri-ball for the first 45 minutes against Perth Glory down under. But there are a few issues that need sorting out before Chelsea and their fans can rest easy.
#1 Thibaut Or Not Thibaut
The goalkeeping situation is something that needs urgent attention. Courtois has supposedly had his car parked in the parking lot outside Real Madrid’s training ground for quite some time now. All he needs now is the go-ahead from Chelsea, once they sign a replacement. And that’s where it gets interesting. Alisson seemed to be at the top of the list of goalkeepers Chelsea were looking at, but he moved to Liverpool without Chelsea even bothering to make a bid. The others on the list are either not good enough (Joe Hart), unattainable (Jordan Pickford) or too much trouble (Gianluigi Donnarumma). Whoever they go for, they need to get this right.
#2 We Need To Talk About Willian
The infuriatingly inconsistent Brazilian has somehow made it on to Barcelona’s shopping list. The Catalans have been steadily increasing their bid, while Chelsea have been inexplicably rejecting each one. Maybe Chelsea hope to use Willian as a makeweight in any deal for Anthony Martial. But there is no guarantee Manchester United or Mourinho would sell to a domestic rival. As news broke last night that Barcelona have made a move for Malcolm, it appeared that Chelsea had made yet another stupid decision when it would have been easier to just take the money and run. The next few days will help us understand if this is a pressure tactic from Barcelona or whether they’ve really decided not to pursue Willian any more.
#3 Forward Thinking
Alvaro Morata is another one always on the verge of a move back to Italy. After Juventus splurged on Ronaldo, they appear to have dropped out of the running for Morata. Recent rumours suggest it is AC Milan who are trying to get the deal over the line. If Morata does not fancy another season in England, there is not much we can do but get the highest possible price from potential suitors. And then, start looking for another striker replacement. Gonzalo Higuain has been mentioned, but we should aim a bit higher (and younger).
#4 Give Youth a Chance
The game against Perth reminded us what Callum Hudson-Odoi is capable of when given an opportunity. It didn’t take long for news to surface that Chelsea plan to offer him a 6-year contract and a spot in the first team. Mario Pasalic also got a run-out and did well, considering he only appears in Chelsea colours in pre-season. Could he do a better job than Danny Drinkwater? Probably. The same could be said about Ola Aina. It’s about time Chelsea stop spending silly money on mediocre backup players and give the youngsters a chance instead.
#5 Hazard Warning
Last but not the least, Chelsea need to decide what to do about Eden Hazard. The Belgian’s comments in the aftermath of his team’s third-place finish in the World Cup suggest he might be looking for a change. The best course of action would be to get him to sign a new contract and stay for at least one more year under Sarri. If he still wants to move next season, Chelsea would get a fair price at the very least. But if a new contract cannot be agreed, Chelsea should sell Hazard this summer to the highest bidder. And they should do it fast. All that money in the bank is useless if the market is closed.