Hazard and Sarri’s fate in balance as Chelsea face a very blue tomorrow in FIFA Court


Madness famous Chelsea Cup Final song for the 1987 FA Cup Final, “Blue Day”, contained the line:

“Will there ever be a blue tomorrow?”

How blue tomorrow will be must be a  question that is uppermost in the minds of those running the club as they await the verdict on their appeal against the FIFA Transfer ban on April 11.

They now have a challenge on two fronts; holding on to their top stars and replacing fading talent with fresh blood.

After Eden Hazard scored both goals in Chelsea’s 2-0 win over West Ham, predictably most of the media questions centred on his future.

Immediately grilled by the media on Hazard’s situation, Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri firstly tried to talk about the team performance. But eventually, he admitted, he wouldn’t want to lose the player from a a technical point of view because:

“…it’s’ impossible to find another Hazard.”

Monday morning’s newspapers had practically signed his contract with Real Madrid, saying that the Spanish giants were already talking about who to let go, to make room for him in both the line up and on the payroll.

“I hope that Hazard can stay here. Otherwise we have to try something different.”

Sarri confirmed that the player has made no indication yet of his wishes, and the player himself refused to be pushed by the televised media after the match.

“I am sure the club doesn’t want to sell him. But we all have to respect his decision.”

There is a further complication for Chelsea. FIFA recently banned them from the transfer market for two transfer windows after finding the club guilty of breaching FIFA regulations over signing minors.

Chelsea breached article 19 of the regulations which related to the transfer of players under 18. The club were found guilty of violating this rule on 29 occasions.

The club would still be allowed to sell players but will be forbidden from registering any new signings until the summer of 2020. In addition loan players such as Gonzalo Higuain and Mateo Kovacic would not be allowed to join on permanent deals.

As if replacing Hazard was not difficulty enough, this ban would mean they would have to replace him from within their existing squads. Both Willian and Callum Hudson-Odoi have their best position on the left, but neither is anywhere close to Hazard’s level or quality.

Chelsea have appealed the ruling and the appeal will be held tomorrow on April 11th. Chelsea could have also approached the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) for an interim ruling halting the sanction pending this appeal to FIFA, but they do not appear to have made us of that pathway.

There is also some doubt whether they could have done so until after their appeal, as Under Rule R37 of the CAS Code, Chelsea could apply for provisional measures (i.e. temporarily lifting the ban until the appeals process has been completed), but CAS won’t consider Chelsea’s application until the proceedings at the FIFA Appeals Committee have been completed.


Another consequence of the ban might affect Sarri himself. The ban of bringing in new players would surely deter potential managerial candidates should Sarri be sacked.

That might indeed result in him staying, and the uncertainty might even be the reason he has lasted this far after several embarrassing performances, including a 6-0 defeat to Manchester City.

Should FIFA nor reverse its decision tomorrow, it is hard to see what the Blues can do other than throw so much money to tempt him to stay or risk being uncompetitive until Hudson-Odoi and other internal players such as Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Ross Barkely and Andreas Christensen achieve their full potential.

That in itself also has a risk.

When it eventually leaks out just how much Hazard was offered to stay, there will likely be a knock on effect among his teammates when their contract is due for n-renegotiation. Hudson-Odoi’s contract has just 15 months left to run and Bayern Munich’s interest in him is widely known. Chelsea might be competing with Real to match Hazard’s salary and Bayern to compete for the teenager’s services.

Certainly, the money saved by not retaining Higuain and Kovacic’s services will be freed up, but the squad then begins too look very thin and barely able to compete on four fronts.

Given that they already sit 14 points behind second place and failed to qualify for the Champions League, they thought of being unable to do anything to close that gap must be daunting.


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