Eden Hazard Apart, Is This The Worst Chelsea Squad Of The Roman Abramovich Era?
The average age of this current Chelsea squad is the oldest of any of the traditional 'Big Six' teams in the Premier League and it is clear that a serious overhaul of the playing staff is going to be needed when the transfer window reopens at the end of the current campaign.
With Eden Hazard seemingly on his way out of Stamford Bridge in the summer, it is difficult to see where Chelsea go from here as they face up to life without the man who has played a direct part - either scored or assisted - 22 of their 45 league goals this season. One shudders to think where they would be without Hazard.
They appear to be in decline and Roman Abramovich has a serious decision on his hands - give manager Maurizio Sarri the chance to implement his fabled 'Sarri Ball' style (a style which is yet to win any silverware during Sarri's career it must be noted) or begin yet another regime under a new boss.
Sarri's hands are tied to some extent by the woeful quality of this squad...
Kepa Arrizabalaga has endured a tough introduction to life in England but the 24-year-old has time on his side. It would help if the back-up options extended beyond the veterans Willy Caballero, 37, and Rob Green, 39.
Since Abramovich's takeover of the club in 2003, Chelsea have won the league five times, including in 2016/17 when they secured the crown off the back of Diego Costa's 20 goals. Costa was soon throwing his toys out of the pram and was never the same player before he departed for Atletico Madrid. Chelsea have never been the same either.
Only nine players from the squad that won the league in 2016/17 are still at Stamford Bridge and they include the ageing defenders David Luiz and Gary Cahill, as well as the out-of-sorts Marcos Alonso and Cesar Azpiliqueta.
The fact Willian and Pedro are still prominent members of the first-team squad two years on from their most recent Premier League title is a damning indictment of their recruitment policy. The addition of the £50m Jorginho, who continues to resemble a chess piece that can only move sideways as the opposition closes in on checkmate, and the on-loan Mateo Kovacic hardly inspires confidence for the future. Meanwhile, young talent like Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ethan Ampadu continue to be overlooked.
Eden Hazard is one of two genuinely world-class players at Chelsea (N'Golo Kante the other). Hazard's expected departure to Real Madrid this summer will leave an almighty hole in the squad. Olivier Giroud is 32 years old now and the jury is still out on the on-loan Gonzalo Higuain, who is hardly the long-term answer at 31 years of age.
In truth, it is difficult to see this current crop of Chelsea players returning to the top of the league anytime soon. They currently have the same tally of points at this stage of the season as twelve months ago, when Antonio Conte was plotting his summer departure. They are better off than at the same stage of the disastrous 2015/16 campaign, when Jose Mourinho was on his way out, but they are worse off than they were in 2014, 2015 and 2017.
Little progress has been made in recent times and the Blues have fallen further behind the rest of Europe. The Champions League remains the competition that Abramovich covets above all others, although Chelsea have gone beyond the round-of-sixteen only once since winning the tournament in 2012.
A second Champions League trophy looks further away than ever. Is this the worst squad of Roman Abramovich's tenure? Probably not, but it remains unfit for purpose when it comes to competing with the very best in Europe.