The proposed swap deal for one of Antonio Conte’s targets would be a record-breaking one, but is it really feasible, likely or even realistic?
Speculation suggests Eden Hazard could be used as a makeweight in a deal for Juventus defender Leonardo Bonucci, though when you put the rumour under scrutiny it appears to fall short.
In fact, the Belgium international has become the second player in a week to be linked with a swap deal, following Cesc Fabregas being linked with a move to Turin in exchange for the 29-year-old centre-back.
Bonucci is undoubtedly rated among the world’s best in his position and Conte is an admirer after working with him at Juventus and with Italy, but the £50 million plus Hazard deal would short-change Chelsea financially.
Conte will be frustrated by recent defensive issues at Stamford Bridge and despite signing David Luiz and Marcos Alonso on deadline day, the club failed to secure their prime targets of Kalidou Koulibaly and Alessio Romagnoli in the summer.
However, Hazard is valued by the CIES Football Observatory at £60 million which is precisely twice as much as they valued Leonardo Bonucci, with the ages of the players and the positions they play in on the pitch hugely affecting their estimated worth.
Swap deals represent a tiny proportion of transfer deals done between clubs as they are seen as hugely complex and can leave a club feeling open to criticism should their end of the deal not work out.
Pep Guardiola and Manchester City’s failures to convince Bonucci to join in the summer, meanwhile, show the magnitude of any club’s task to sign him, with Juventus desperate to win the Champions League and with an unwillingness to sell anyone who can help them to do it.
Bonucci has been offered a new deal to stay in Turin while his two-year-old son, Matteo, is another reason to stay as he attempts to recover from the life threatening illnesses he suffered this summer.
Hazard, on the other hand, is happy and committed to Conte’s cause having started in each of the 47-year-old’s first seven league games in charge, while he also looks notably fitter than he did last season.
The 25-year-old winger’s transfer value remains high for Chelsea, despite a poor year last season, with Euro 2016 and his form on either end of the season proving his immense worth.
In the years to come, and if Chelsea ever wanted to sell him, then they could easily spark a bidding war between Europe’s elite clubs, while he is expected to banish the demons of last season and remind fans that he was the PFA Player of the Year when they won the title two years ago.
His exit feels far from imminent and Hazard even offered an insight into what his Blues departure might look like during Euro 2016.
“I have a contract until 2020, I feel good here and I don’t want to finish on a season like that.” told TeleFoot. “I left Lille [in 2012] as a boss and I’d like to leave Chelsea as a boss, if I do leave one day. But for the time being I’m here.”
Chelsea have been involved in some high-profile swap deals, as they included Nemanja Matic in their £21.3 million deal for David Luiz with Benfica in January 2011, while they controversially secured Ashley Cole from rivals Arsenal in 2006 by offering £5 million plus centre-back William Gallas.
But neither of those deals reached the scale of what has been proposed in the Hazard-Bonucci swap, with only Barcelona’s transfer of £40 million plus Aleksandr Hleb and Samuel Eto’o for, the then-Internazionale striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic coming close to what has recently been suggested.
After Chelsea’s desperate deadline day deals, some fans may suggest their club are silly enough to pursue this deal, but with John Terry and Kurt Zouma both returning from injury any perceived desperation at Stamford Bridge is likely to subside.
Conte has repeatedly said he aims to solve Chelsea’s defensive frailties by working hard on the training pitch and his faith in Hazard can be witnessed by his actions rather than his words.
Taking all that into account, any panicked Chelsea fans should relax about the potential of seeing Hazard at the Old Lady.