Eden Hazard, Thibaut Courtois, James Rodríguez and Álvaro Morata. All big names. All linked with one major swap deal.
With Real Madrid’s transfer ban over in the summer, it’s expected they’ll want to show their strength in the transfer market once more.
What’s more, Florentino Pérez has presidential elections coming up, and he’ll want to show his worth with a marquee signing.
All four players have been linked with the move before, so it is no real surprise to see speculation surrounding their future, but talk of a swap deal is unexpected.
Very rarely do swap deals happen any more – and if this comes off, it would be a miracle.
Four players, each trying to negotiate a contract, would never be easy.
Indeed, in recent history, there aren’t many transfers that have gone through that have seen an exchange of players, although Chelsea have been involved in two major ones under Roman Abramovich.
David Luiz joined from Benfica for around £21million plus Nemanja Matić in 2011, while they also brought in Ashley Cole from Arsenal for £5million plus William Gallas in 2006.
But who would do better out of the exchange, and would the players be right for their prospective new clubs? We take a look.
Undeniably, Hazard is one of the most in-demand players in the world.
If he became available, most teams would want him – if Pérez wants a new galáctico, Hazard fits the bill.
And with Chelsea set to win the Premier League, Madrid may feel now is the perfect time.
Back in November, Hazard said he would consider leaving Chelsea only after securing a title.
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“If I ever leave, it’ll be after winning a championship,” he said.
“You need to go out on a high so that people remember you for the right reasons.”
And with Zinédine Zidane trialling switches in formation this season from the 4-3-3 that Madrid have been used to in recent years, the team could be built around Hazard.
With Isco and Rodríguez surely on their way out, Los Blancos want a new No.10 and the Daily Mail claims they are looking for the Belgian to spearhead a diamond, with Casemiro, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos sitting behind him.
Undeniably Hazard thrives in a central role, and with the players that Madrid have playing around him, he would be sensational.
Real Madrid have made no secret about them not being happy with 30-year-old Keylor Navas as first-choice goalkeeper at the Bernabéu.
Courtois seems happier than ever at Stamford Bridge, but Madrid believe they could tempt him back to the Spanish capital, where he was so successful in his time at city rivals Atlético.
“I don’t see myself at Real Madrid,” the 24-year-old said this week.
“I see myself at Chelsea, the club that six years ago saw me playing in Belgium and gave me the opportunity to sign for them.
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“We will see at the end of the season if they offer me something.
“For the time being, there has not been an offer.”
But without a new deal, Courtois is only tied down in London until 2019 – something that would give Madrid huge bargaining power.
And with a move for David de Gea more complicated by his longer contract, Courtois would seem the logical option if they want one of the best goalkeepers in the world.
Indeed, our specially-tailored algorithm found that the Belgian was the best ‘keeper in the Premier League.
And while Navas is a decent option in between the sticks, Courtois is undoubtedly better, and younger.
If Hazard does leave Chelsea, there’s no question that Rodríguez could fill the hole left by his departure.
It looks likely that the Colombian will leave the Spanish capital in the summer, though – he has come out and spoken about wanting to play more.
Under Rafa Benítez and Zidane, he’s been restricted to a role largely on the periphery of the first-team, despite his arrival for €80million back in 2014.
In December, he admitted he could leave, saying: “I’m happy here, but I want to play more.
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“I want to stay at Madrid forever, but you have to think about everything and look at your options.”
And he has been a long-term Chelsea transfer target.
Should Hazard leave, there could perhaps be a switch to a 3-5-2 formation, and Rodríguez could easily form part of a formidable looking midfield, alongside the likes of Matić, N’Golo Kanté and Cesc Fàbregas.
And if Chelsea stick with their 3-4-3, he could easily take up Hazard’s role just behind the forward.
Whatever happens in the summer, it would be no surprise to see him leave the Bernabéu.
With Karim Benzema struggling for form, Álvaro Morata has still been unable to get a regular starting place for Zidane’s side.
And that surely means it’s the end of the road for him at the Bernabéu.
He could work alongside another striker in a 3-5-2 or as the main one in a 3-4-3, and it’s unquestionable that the Blues need another striker when they’re competing on two fronts next season given the lack of faith Antonio Conte has shown in Michy Batshuayi.
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And given that Conte signed Morata for Juventus, you would think he is an admirer of the 24-year-old forward, at least more than he fancies Batshuayi anyway.
But if Diego Costa stays, and it’s a big “if”, you would be surprised if Morata moved to play second fiddle, after his lack of starts this season.
Who would get the better deal?
Given that Courtois and Hazard are guaranteed starters when fit for Chelsea and Morata and Rodríguez aren’t for Real Madrid, it’s obvious who’s strengthening their side.
The Madrid duo are of course good players, and would improve the Blues’ squad, but whether they would be willing to let two of their key players go to bring them in is another matter.
If a swap deal does go through, you would expect Madrid to have to pay a fee plus the two players.
But perhaps what is more likely if the players are to move if for the four players to move separately.
In terms of separate deals, for Real Madrid, you would imagine Courtois to be a slightly easier deal to do than Hazard.
Given him only having two years on his contract and him speaking openly about his love for the Spanish capital, the Madrid hierarchy would hope to be able to complete a deal.
But as Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal know, when Real Madrid or Barcelona want a player, they tend to get them – and Chelsea surely won’t be 100 per cent confident in keeping Hazard.
The Blues would probably see the Morata deal as more likely, given his history with Conte and their search for a striker – Romelu Lukaku has also been linked with Chelsea.