Griezmann, Bale, Hazard, Salah, and the modern footballer

I read somewhere that Liverpool are offering £35m for Mohamed Salah. Salah was a teammate of Arsenal’s Elneny and went to Chelsea from Basel for £12m. He impressed me with his ball control in the few starts I saw but he also had a penchant for losing the ball and over elaborating. Salah also fell out with Mourinho over his defensive work so, it wasn’t a surprise when Chelsea sold him for a small loss to Roma a few years later.

But this season he’s been a special part of Roma’s title tilt. He’s scored 15 goals and laid on 11 assists and drove that team forward from midfield. £35m for a 24 year old who can and does run the midfield like that is a good deal and he will make Liverpool stronger.

Meanwhile, Chelsea must be kicking themselves.

Chelsea also have a small problem with Eden Hazard. Yes, I know that Kante won the player of the year award and deservedly so but Eden Hazard is Chelsea’s best player. He’s like Salah, only better, much much better. He dribbles in tight spaces without losing the ball and sets up his teammates, starts counters, and can score the dd goal himself. Losing him means rebuilding the team from scratch.

Chelsea have gotten themselves into a bind with Hazard. See he only has three years left on a £200k a week deal and is making noise about making a switch to Real Madrid. But three years, you say, surely he can’t want an extension. Surely he does and was quoted saying,

Of course I would consider it if Madrid made an offer. I am keen to win trophies. It would be great to win the Champions League. But Chelsea’s goal is to win the Champions League as well. Honestly I do not know what will happen. I only know that I still have a contract with Chelsea for three seasons and that we just had an amazing 2016-17 campaign. We want to continue on this path and want to build on this in the Champions League. I am feeling very well at Chelsea. But you never know what will happen. I have not met the board yet to discuss a new deal.

This is the classic, “come get me” quote from a player who wants to leave for a bigger club and despite their riches, Chelsea are not a big club. Not as big as Real Madrid. And especially not as big as Real Madrid who have won three Champions League trophies in the last four years. For a player like Hazard, a player who is at the pinnacle of his career, a chance to play for Real Madrid (and the lucrative endorsement deals that he would ink) is all powerful.

Zidane reportedly wants Hazard and Hazard would slot right in as a fellow Galactico with Ronaldo, Isco, and others.

I hope Real Madrid do come and get Hazard from Chelsea. Because I see that as potentially starting a sell off from them. Gareth Bale is generating the most speculation probably because, by my count, he has been a failure at Real Madrid this season. Last season he scored 19 goals and 10 assists but in just 300 fewer minutes this season his production fell off a cliff and he scored just 7 goals and provided 2 assists.

Bale has never fit in at Madrid, not really. He’s saying he wants to stay, specifically he has rejected Manchester United (which I believe is because of Jose Mourinho) but the hierarchy at Real Madrid are ruthless and will cut him loose if they think it could fund the purchase of someone better like Eden Hazard. I think he will move this summer.

And one last transfer story I’d like to share: Antoine Griezmann is staying at Atletico Madrid. Griezmann was courted by Manchester United this spring and by courted I mean they backed a dumptruck full of cash up to his house and poured money all over his lawn. But Griezmann has rejected all talk of a transfer this summer because the club he’s contracted to is currently under a transfer ban (plus so many other problems at that club, they don’t even have a stadium for next year) and he knows that if he makes a move, his club will be stuck and probably suffer greatly in la Liga next season.

Griezmann is a throwback to another era. We just don’t see players like this any more. And beyond his obvious footballing talent I appreciate his loyalty even more. He is truly one of the greats in the game and is choosing to stay at a club where he will certainly early a lot less money out of loyalty to that club and their fans.

What a guy.


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