The swirling rumours regarding Eden Hazard's potential exit from Stamford Bridge this summer are a dreaded fear for any Chelsea fan, but the news of Ezequiel Lavezzi potentially replacing the Belgian can set minds slightly more at ease.
Jamie Anderson of the Daily Star reports that the Blues are interested in cutting a £16 million deal for World Cup-bound Lavezzi, somewhat less than the £21 million paid for his services by Paris Saint-Germain back in 2012.
Of course, a Hazard departure is by no means assured just yet. In fact, the best-case scenario that Chelsea can hope for is to have both talented forwards under their command.
However, it would be difficult to foresee a setup in which both left-sided attackers go satisfied in terms of their first-team expectations, leaving one with the notion that just one of the pair will line up in west London colours next season.
Lavezzi's main priorities may rest in the construction of an attack, but OptaJean points out that the wide man has found a certain scoring touch about his play this past season:
9 - Ezequiel Lavezzi scored 9 league goals this season, his joint-best tally since joining Europe (alongside 2011/12 with Napoli). Blue ?— OptaJean (@OptaJean) May 26, 2014
By no means is this to infer the Argentine international would do the same job that Hazard has done at Chelsea to the same standards. There's a very specific list of players in the world who could boast as much, and at 23 years of age, Hazard is a project the club would undoubtedly be better off keeping in-house if possible.
As detailed by Neil Ashton of the Daily Mail last week, Laurent Blanc is a confirmed fan of Hazard's talents, and after news emerged that the Ligue 1 champions are close to sealing a £50 million deal for David Luiz, the PSG manager was quoted in saying:
Why do I love Eden Hazard? Because he is a player who eliminates. We can discuss all of the systems, or a player's individual or collective qualities.
But a player who can eliminate three, four players at any time in a game is something else. We do not know what to expect with these players. They destabilise the opponent. We know we want plan A. But of course there is a plan B if he doesn’t come. There is also a plan C.
Any fee taking Hazard to Parc des Princes would therefore be expected to be similar, if not superior, to that which sees Luiz moving to the French capital, giving Chelsea a chance to make a return, while also getting a very talented asset in return—and of a very similar style at that.
Lavezzi isn't as impressive a figure as Hazard, nor has he as much potential at 29 years of age. But considering the player is coming into his peak years and financial fair play is beginning to bear an actual threat on Europe's giants, it could be a good chance to get back into UEFA's good books while not taking too much of a blow in the playing ranks.
Therefore, while Chelsea may have to start growing more accepting of the idea that Hazard won't be theirs to marshal next season, it's not all doom and gloom in west London, as Lavezzi could undoubtedly be used as a bargaining chip in the matter.
Attacking midfield is a stacked part of Jose Mourinho's squad, and part of the money recouped could be used to finance acquisitions in other, more malnourished areas of the pitch.
In their ideal world, Chelsea Player of the Year Hazard would be the Blues' to hang on to for as long as possible, but in these modern times, Roman Abramovich is no longer the only one with a chequebook that dictates transfers, and Lavezzi would help in making the best of a bad situation.