Chelsea fans’ sagging spirits were lifted on Monday as the club revealed that the likes of Eden Hazard, N’Golo Kante, Olivier Giroud, Gary Cahill and Michy Batshuayi all trained with the squad for the first time since their exertions at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
After two successful but tumultuous seasons with Italian tactician Antonio Conte, the Blues parted ways with the former Juventus manager and hired his compatriot, Maurizio Sarri, in his stead.
While pre-season was encouraging with some positive results, with ‘Sarrismo’ the talk of the town, the Blues faithful were given a dose of reality on Sunday as Manchester City beat them 2-0 to lift the 2018 Community Shield.
Sarri was without several of his senior stars, but crucially the situation was the same for Pep Guardiola and the result actually flattered the Blues, who couldn’t even test City custodian Claudio Bravo over the course of 90 minutes.
The new coach’s philosophy will take time to implement, but keeping in mind Chelsea’s track record with his predecessors, it’s unsure if he will be afforded that luxury.
And while Brazilian winger Willian has ended all speculation linking him with a move away by committing his future to the club, the same cannot be said for Hazard and Courtois.
The diminutive wideman returned to training on Monday, but Courtois effectively went AWOL and was spotted in Tenerife.
There is a high probability that the custodian will get his way and move to Real Madrid, but it remains to be seen if his compatriot Hazard will follow suit.
Blues fans were ecstatic to see their club’s talisman back in action, even if it was a training session:
Great to have you back, lads! 👊 pic.twitter.com/XRhL3MWieJ
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) August 6, 2018
Of course, Giroud and Batshuayi will give Sarri extra options in the forward department but apart from Hazard, it’s presence of Kante that will bring a smile to the faces of the Chelsea faithful.
The indefatigable Frenchman has been sensational in his past three seasons in the English top-flight and was among the standout performers at the World Cup in Russia as well.
The transfer deadline shuts on August 9 and while the Blues can still sell players till the end of the month, they will not be able to make any more additions to their squad.
Despite David Luiz’s insistence that he can pay in a two-man central defence, it doesn’t look like the case and Sarri may be tempted to go in for a young defender like Daniele Rugani.
And if Hazard were to depart as well, then a winger would most definitely be on the top of their priority list.
Anthony Martial (Manchester United) and Nabil Fekir (Lyon) are the two players Chelsea are said to be considering making a late bid for.