Could transfer ban be a blessing in disguise for Chelsea

By George Davis, Brent Sancho and Lance Whittaker February 22, 2019

Chelsea have been banned from signing players for two transfer windows after being found guilty of breaching rules about signing minors by FIFA.

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    Paul Pogba and Eden Hazard joining Real Madrid is possible because great players are always welcome at the club, says Raphael Varane.

    Madrid have been linked with big-money moves for the Manchester United midfielder and Chelsea winger as Zinedine Zidane looks to rebuild the squad following a disappointing 2018-19 season.

    Pogba has struggled to stamp his mark on United since returning in 2016 for a then world-record £89million, while Hazard appears set to leave Stamford Bridge with just one year remaining on his contract.

    Varane, who has vowed to remain with the club next term despite links to the likes of United and Juventus, believes players of such calibre will always have a place at the Santiago Bernabeu.

    "I can't say what I talk to [Pogba] about, but any great player has a place at Madrid and he is one," Varane told Marca.

    "In Madrid there is a lot of competition. It is a possibility, there is a lot of noise around and we will see in August where he is."

    On Hazard, he added: "I've known him since I started at Lens. He is a top player and it's like I said to explain the case with Pogba, he could also play at Madrid.

    "He is in the best moment of his career with the age and quality he has. When we [France] faced [Belgium] in the World Cup semi-finals we knew we had to have a special plan to stop him."

    Madrid have long been expected to sign a new striker to replace Karim Benzema, but the former Lyon man hit 30 goals in all competitions this season – his best since the 2011-12 campaign.

    "To play for Madrid for 10 years and also being the number nine you have to be very good and have a huge mental strength. He is very talented and has reached a moment of fulfilment," said Varane.

    "He knows himself very well, he knows what he has to do to be at his best level and he has had a very good season.

    "It may be the best of his career, and it is true that I have seen him very comfortable in his role as leader of the attack. I am very happy for him."

  • Pulisic keen to match Hazard impact at Chelsea Pulisic keen to match Hazard impact at Chelsea

    Chelsea recruit Christian Pulisic is eager to reach the same heights as star Eden Hazard at the Premier League giants.

    Pulisic, 20, agreed to a reported €64million move from Borussia Dortmund in January before finishing the season on loan at the Bundesliga club.

    The United States international may get a chance to play alongside Hazard, although the Belgian star is linked with a move away from Stamford Bridge.

    However, Pulisic said he wanted to match Hazard, who has helped Chelsea win two Premier League titles, an FA Cup, an EFL Cup and a Europa League.

    "It is incredible to see what Eden can do. He is a guy to look up to and what I would love to become," he told the BBC.

    "It is definitely a goal. Any player would be dumb not to want to be in the same team as him."

    Chelsea, who face Arsenal in the Europa League final on May 29, finished third in the Premier League, but they were 25 points behind second-placed Liverpool.

    But Pulisic believes his team can close the gap to Liverpool, and champions Manchester City.

    "We are a confident group of guys," he said.

    "Liverpool and City are two great teams who had great seasons but I have seen Chelsea compete against big teams and do well against them this season.

    "We want to go in with a winning mentality and compete with them right away."

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