A torrid year for Chelsea Football Club might be about to get a lot worse after FIFA announced the London club has been banned from signing players in the next two transfer windows.
The ban comes after a FIFA investigation into Chelsea’s signing of foreign under-18 players, including former striker Bertrand Traore, with the world governing body claiming it found breaches in 29 cases out of a total of 92 investigated.
The Blues have also been fined £460,000, along with the Football Association (FA) having been fined £390,000.
The Premier League club released a statement that read: “Chelsea FC has today received a decision from the FIFA Disciplinary Committee concerning alleged breaches of the FIFA Regulations that relate to the international transfer of players under the age of 18.
“Chelsea FC categorically refutes the findings of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee and will therefore be appealing the decision.”
However, if their ban isn’t lifted, the Blues can fall back on their army of loanee players that will return this summer including Tammy Abraham, Kurt Zouma and Michy Batshuayi.
Chelsea will also be boosted by the arrival of American winger Christian Pulisic who was signed from Borussia Dortmund for £55million in January and loaned back to German outfit for the remainder of the season.
It remains to be seen whether the ban will be revoked by FIFA, but it has thrown into question the future of both manager Maurizio Sarri and star man Eden Hazard with the 28-year-old being linked with a move to Spanish giants Real Madrid.
Chelsea face a difficult task to keep Hazard to stay at the club with his contract ending in June 2020 and Champions League football uncertain for next season with the Blues currently placed outside of the top four qualification spots.
Hazard has not hidden his desire for a move to the Galacticos admitting it’s his ‘dream’ to move to Madrid and win ‘multiple titles’ there.
Real Madrid are in a strong position since the transfer ban imposed on Chelsea does not restrict the release of players.
With one-year left on his current deal and there being no chance of any incomings at Chelsea, Hazard may decide to jump ship for a larger salary and guaranteed Champions League football next year at the Bernabeu.
Speculation continues to surround Sarri and if he will last the season with doubts being raised about his style of play and managerial methods.
The Carabao Cup final against Manchester City was the latest in the Sarri-saga after goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga refused to be substituted in extra-time with Willy Caballero waiting to come on for the Spaniard.
This incident put into question whether Sarri has lost the dressing room and if ‘player power’ at the club is too strong.
Former Blues boss Antonio Conte reportedly had issues with striker Diego Costa which saw the Spaniard left out of the squad for a run of games after a training ground feud with Conte and his staff – backing up the idea that the current Chelsea squad believe they run the team, not the manager.
The Chelsea fans have voiced their frustrations with Sarri during their 2-0 FA Cup home defeat to Manchester United chanting ‘you don’t know what you’re doing’ and ‘f*** Sarri-ball’.
Despite what was a good performance against Manchester City, with Chelsea fans praising the manager for adjusting his tactics after they were humiliated 6-0 just a week earlier at the Etihad in the league, it was all forgotten once Kepa’s outburst took centre stage.
The 23-year-old managed to save a penalty in the following shoot-out but was criticised further for his attempted save of Sergio Aguero’s penalty which seemingly slipped through his gloves.
Chelsea await to find out the decision of their appeal for FIFA’s ban to be lifted, but with Hazard edging closer to an exit and Sarri’s future looking more unlikely by the day, it may be the beginning of a year of turmoil at the Bridge.