Chelsea have lost a “world great” in Eden Hazard, says Pat Nevin, but one of Christian Pulisic, Willian and Pedro is being backed to step up and fill some sizeable shoes at Stamford Bridge.
A move to Real Madrid for a Belgium international forward that had been mooted for some time has finally been pushed through this summer.
Losing Hazard represents an obvious blow to Chelsea, who now find themselves without a forward who has been a talismanic presence in west London over the last seven years.
There is, however, still plenty of creativity on the club’s books, with United States international Pulisic having bolstered those ranks following his arrival from Borussia Dortmund.
Nevin believes the absence of Hazard could actually work in the favour of those left behind, with the former Blues winger telling Chelsea’s official website: “We did also lose a world great in the summer obviously, but just maybe that will allow more opportunities for others to flourish.
“Do not be surprised if one of Pedro, Willian or indeed Christian Pulisic has an unusually productive season.
“Eden understandably was the go-to man when we attacked, but now others will get more service, it will almost certainly have a positive effect on at least one of them.
“They will never say they were happy to see Eden leave because nobody was, but these players in particular will grasp at the positives.”
The likes of Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek will also want to help counter the loss of Hazard once they come into the thinking of new Blues boss Frank Lampard.
Both England internationals are currently recovering from Achilles problems, with Nevin saying of the academy graduates and hopes for 2019-20: “So last season we rightly got excited about Callum and Ruben as they improved incredibly quickly throughout the season.
“It is sad and feels hugely unfair that both have literally been stopped in their tracks by similar injuries.
“When they return it will be like two fabulous new signings, but in the meantime during pre-season there have been a few standout players that might also have huge seasons this time round.
“Taking nothing away from any other players battling to get up to match speed, both Pulisic and Ross Barkley in particular have been quite superb. Both have been fast, positive, confident and played with a real freedom.
“They appear to be mirroring what the new staff want to see and what we want to see, too. If they can play to that level in the Premier League then the ultimate goal of reaching the top four may not be out of our grasp, even with all the odds stacked against us.”