A season without trophies is something of a rarity for Chelsea in this day and age, as is a campaign in which Jose Mourinho ends up empty handed. So it is somewhat peculiar that a marriage between the two yielded no silverware over the past 10 months.
Granted, it was Mourinho’s first year back at Stamford Bridge and it’s a campaign the Portuguese boss maintained was part of a transitional phase, per Rik Sharma of the Mail Online, but you would suspect that the Chelsea hierarchy would be a little perturbed were the club to end up potless again next season.
With that in mind, expect a flurry of activity at the club this summer as Mourinho prepares for his second season in his second spell at Stamford Bridge.
Here’s the lowdown on two of Chelsea’s brightest young talents and the latest on the potential return of a club legend.
Paris Saint-Germain Make Eden Hazard Main Target
After Mourinho was openly critical of Eden Hazard following Chelsea’s defeat to Atletico Madrid in the Champions League semi-final, fuel was added to the fire regarding the player's future at the club.
According to L’Equipe, French giants PSG have made the Belgian forward their primary target this summer, as reported by Tom Williams:
Mourinho dubbed Hazard someone who is “not the kind of player to sacrifice himself for the team” in the wake of that crushing semi-final defeat, per Sky Sports, naturally leading to questions as to whether the Portuguese would want Hazard to be part of his future plans.
And, despite the recent sanctions that were imposed on the Parisian outfit for breaching Financial Fair Play rules, per BBC Sport, it seems as though they’ll be willing to test Chelsea’s ability to keep hold of the player this summer with a sizeable offer.
The club’s president, Nasser al-Khelaifi, discussed the sanctions in L’Equipe (h/t ESPN) and was in a boisterous mood when pressed on the club’s transfer plans for the summer:
The players that I want, I will have.
This changes nothing of the project, the motivation of the club and the players. We respect and accept this decision. But nothing and no one will stop us, we always dream bigger.
We had a plan over five years when we bought the club and that will not change. We have already invested a lot in the last three years and we will continue.
Despite their recent tiff, it’s difficult to see Mourinho allowing Hazard to sail off to pastures new. The Belgian was in wonderful form throughout the course of the previous campaign, notching 14 goals and seven assists in the Premier League, per WhoScored.com. He was also named PFA Young Player of the Year.
Here's Hazard with his award, courtesy of Premier League France:
The onus Mourinho puts on defensive diligence is understandable and expected, but every team requires a spark, and Hazard gives Chelsea an incisive streak that is difficult to come by.
Even if the Parisians break the bank—and maybe even a few rules—in an attempt to secure the 23-year-old's services, the Blues must stand firm and hang on to their prized asset.
Thibaut Courtois Wants First-Team Football
After a remarkable campaign between the sticks for Atletico Madrid, Thibaut Courtois looks set to return to Stamford Bridge next season.
The 'keeper has insisted that—regardless of where he plays his football next year—he expects to be a regular starter, per ESPN:
I am not sure yet what happens next season. If I move somewhere, I will play.
At my age, the most important thing for me—and what I want to do—is to play. Petr [Cech] is one of the best goalkeepers in the world and he won the Golden Glove in the Premier League this season. I have a lot of respect for him.
I have two years [left on my] contract with Chelsea, so we will see what they decide.
The 22-year-old stopper has been vital in Atletico Madrid’s stunning exploits this season, which have seen the Rojiblancos win La Liga and come within one game of their first ever European Cup triumph.
Here’s Courtois deservedly enjoying Atletico’s title celebrations:
During his spell at the Vicente Calderon, Courtois has blossomed into one of the world’s finest goalkeepers, with many believing that he is ready to oust Petr Cech as Chelsea’s first choice. According to Pete Jenson of the Mail Online, Chelsea want Courtois back to be their No. 1 next season.
This season he has shown a new-found maturity in his game, which was perhaps no more evident than against Chelsea in the Champions League semi-final. His assertive presence, command of his area and unfathomable agility have impressed and will certainly not have escaped Mourinho's attentions.
Cech is a fine goalkeeper and has been a wonderful servant to Chelsea, but this prodigious young Belgian has surpassed him and would be worthy of a starting berth at Stamford Bridge next season.
Didier Drogba Set For Chelsea Swansong?
After confirming he will leave Galatasaray, Didier Drogba is being linked with a return to the Premier League, with Chelsea reportedly interested in bringing him back to Stamford Bridge.
According to Ashley Clements of the Mail Online, Mourinho would be keen on a reunion with the Ivory Coast international, who scored the winning penalty with his last kick of a ball for the Blues in the 2012 Champions League final.
Here's what Drogba has been up to since leaving Stamford Bridge:
Chelsea’s striking woes were well documented last season, and while they look set to secure a deal for Atletico Madrid’s Diego Costa, per Sky Sports, Drogba could still provide a decent back-up option despite his advancing years.
Off the pitch, he could be a major influence too: Drogba is a legend at the club. He would undoubtedly be a positive figure to have around the place and a personality Mourinho would surely value.