When a Premier League club seems to be doing everything in its power to sign a player in a certain position, and then said clubs best player comes out and bluntly tells the media that he does not believe a player is needed in said position, it really does strike you as something quite strange.
This is exactly what happened at Chelsea this week. The Blues seem desperate to sign not just any striker but a big old fashioned 6ft plus target man, however the club’s star man Eden Hazard has let everybody know that he does not agree with this decision when he said:
“I think we have two very good strikers in Alvaro and Michy. If they are not ready to play I can play striker, so I don’t think we need [another one].
“Football is simple – keep the ball on the ground and try [to play] like we did. Because we are missing chances people are saying we need another striker, but if we are scoring goals, we are the best attack in the League and no-one can say we need a striker.
“It depends on the form of the team and I think we’re happy with the team we have.”
Obviously when a club is heavily linked with a player in a certain position, other players within that squad will of course discuss their thoughts on whether the new addition is needed or not, but for one of them to come out and directly deny that his side need to strengthen in that area is pretty much unheard of.
Interestingly, Hazard’s comments about “Football is simple – keep the ball on the ground,” also seem to be in stark contrast to the type of direct football that would be played to facilitate some of the types of strikers the Stamford Bridge club have been linked with in recent days.
Oh to be a fly on the wall at Chelsea’s Cobham training facility this week when their bunch of technically gifted international superstars heard the club were being linked with the likes of Ashley Barnes, Peter Crouch and Andy Carroll.
Hazard for his part, has been outspoken in the past about his dislike of the defensive work that the left-midfield role he has normally played for the Blues has entailed, and seems to be revelling in the more central role his coach has used him in this season.
However, and this just me reading between the lines, the Belgium international is now saying he – and potentially other members of the squad – do not agree with his managers wish to sign a striker or the brand of football that this new striker will be suited to.
This is of course, comes against the backdrop of Conte’s own battles with his club’s board over transfer funding, and his somewhat begrudging admission recently that Chelsea can no longer compete with their biggest rivals Manchester United and Manchester City in terms of finances.
After such a successful season last season when the Italian coach masterminded a superb run to the Premier League title; the club’s board, their manager and their star player seem to be at odds with each on several issues.
Which all just seems to contribute to the overriding feeling that Conte will no longer be the manager at Stamford Bridge next season.