Chelsea – Who can replace Hazard?

The biggest transfer so far this summer is Eden Hazard leaving Chelsea for Real Madrid for a reported £88m fee, that may rise up to £130m.  A quick cheap plug here, but the size of the upfront fee shows that the valuation of £80m that Crystal Palace have for Wilfried Zaha is insane.  I talked more about that here

Getting back to Hazard, because of Chelsea’s transfer ban they haven’t been able to replace him with a big transfer, so will have to relay on players who are still at the club.  I’m going to have a look at who is capable of stepping up to replace the Belgian or is it more likely that nobody can replace him.

Chelsea’s options as a direct replacement are Pedro, Willian, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Christian Pulisic.  Pulisic of course was signed last January but loaned straight back to Dortmund, now he has the chance to make his mark at Stamford Bridge.

The stats I will be using are supplied by understat.com.  I have also done the stats per 90 minutes play.  The first chart I have is comparing Key Passes Per 90 Minutes and Shots Per 90 Minutes.

As you can see from the chart, the close to the top right of the chart, the better the stat.  Willian actually averaged more KP90 than Hazard, whereas Willian, Hazard, Pulisic and Pedro had a similar Sh90 stats.  Callum Hudson-Odoi struggled to get shots off last season, but was averaging over 2 KP90.

The next chart compares Expected Goals Per 90 Minutes against the Shots Per 90 Minutes

What we can see from this despite Willian having a high number of shots, not many of his shots are of high quality.  Christian Pulisic however is averaging over 0.50 xG90 which is a great rate for an attacking midfielder.  Callum Hudson-Odoi again shows that goals will probably not be a big part of his game.

Up next is time to look more at creativity rather than goals.  While Hazard does bring goals to his game, his biggest asset is creating chances.

The above chart shows Expected Assists Per 90 Minutes and Key Passes Per 90 Minutes.  Callum Hudson-Odoi comes into his own here.  He actually has a higher xA90 rate than Hazard (and everyone else), so the chances he creates are of high quality.  Pedro struggles here, whereas Pulisic and Willian also stand out.

The final chart is going to compare Expected Assists Per 90 Minutes and Expected Goals Per 90 Minutes.  This will see who actually does mix in both creativity and goals.

As you can see, Hazard stands out here, not only as a goalscorer but as a creator.  Christian Pulisic could fill in the gap with the goals, averaging over 0.50 xG90, although he doesn’t create as much as Hazard did.  Callum Hudson-Odoi can be the creative force for Chelsea next season if he is given more of a chance.  There has been talk of a big money move to Germany for him but Chelsea have to keep a hold of the youngster and give him a chance next season.  Pedro and Willian are both more experienced, but as you can see from their stats that they aren’t going to cut the mustard.  If Chelsea continue playing with the front three then both Pulisic and Hudson-Odoi have to be first choice.

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