Frank Augstein/Associated Press
Chelsea stars Eden Hazard and Willian have reportedly informed Barcelona they’re both interested in swapping Stamford Bridge for the Camp Nou.
The pair featured on the cover of Catalan daily Sport:
Diario SPORT @sport
#PortadaSPORT 🗞️ ¡Hola a todos! Esta es nuestra portada de hoy
According to the newspaper (h/t the Mirror‘s Jack Rathborn), amid links with Real Madrid Hazard is said to view the possibility of signing for Barca to be equally appealing, and Blaugrana manager Ernesto Valverde believes recruiting the pair could be decisive for their prospects of winning the UEFA Champions League.
Per Sky Sports News, Barcelona have now made three bids for Willian’s services, with the latest being worth more than £55 million.
Bleacher Report’s Sam Tighe and Alex McGovern are confused by their interest in the Brazilian and Chelsea’s decision to resist their advances thus far:
Alex McGovern @AlexMcGovern11
@stighefootball Better question is why haven’t Chelsea taken the money and run
Indeed, while he had a strong campaign that returned 13 goals and 12 assists in all competitions and he’s a worthy player for Chelsea to have in their ranks, he’ll be 30 on August 9.
The winger can make incisive contributions, but he’s not quite an elite player and at his age, such a fee is an enormous amount to pay even in today’s inflated market.
Hazard is far more worthy of Barca’s interest, though if he does leave Chelsea this summer it will surely be for a fee well in excess of the figures reported for Willian.
After an excellent FIFA World Cup with Belgium, he hinted he would be open to moving on from the Blues:
Hazard not only operates from the left—which would suit Barcelona as he could fulfil the role formerly played by Neymar in their front three—but he’s also an explosive player, as noted by football writer Karl Matchett:
Karl Matchett @karlmatchett
Hazard so strong in the dribble. Incredible ability to hold off defenders while running/changing directions #BEL
In 300 appearances for Chelsea, Hazard has contributed 89 goals and 75 assists.
Barcelona would likely hope for a stronger return than that, particularly if they were to splash out on him, but his numbers probably would improve as he linked up with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez in a mouthwatering attacking triumvirate.
However, if Chelsea have been willing to reject lucrative bids for Willian, one can only imagine the kinds of figures it would take to prise Hazard away from them. Even for a club with Barcelona’s resources, they may not have enough to convince the Blues to part with their star.