Pochettino told Chelsea target can be ‘next Eden Hazard’, with Blues facing Newcastle battle amid Ballon d’Or comparison

Mauricio Pochettino celebrates

Mauricio Pochettino celebrates goal

A European football expert has made an exciting comparison about a player rumoured to be on Mauricio Pochettino’s shortlist at Chelsea, with Eden Hazard and Karim Benzema named as potential inspirations for him.

Chelsea have had an eventful summer so far. After spending huge sums of money in the previous two transfer windows, they have had to offload a host of players to balance the books. Mason Mount, Kai Havertz, Mateo Kovacic, Christian Pulisic and Kalidou Koulibaly are just some of the players who have left so far. And they could soon be followed out of Stamford Bridge by Romelu Lukaku, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Callum Hudson-Odoi.

Chelsea have confirmed the arrival of Christopher Nkunku, a deal which was done in June, while they have also brought in winger Nicolas Jackson from Villarreal.

Pochettino is also thought to have an eye on Lyon’s Rayan Cherki. The France U21 international, who plays as a central attacking midfielder or as a winger on either flank, has established himself as a regular in the Lyon first team. Last season he impressed and managed five goals and six assists in 39 games, despite the fact he is only 19 years old.

Unfortunately for Pochettino and Chelsea, they are not alone in liking the teenager. On July 11, Newcastle were backed to launch a ‘major attack’ to sign him first.

Ligue 1 journalist Jonathan Johnson has now given his verdict on Cherki amid the Premier League rumours. Chelsea fans may start to get excited after hearing how Cherki is similar to Blues hero Hazard, while he is also following in the footsteps of 2022 Ballon d’Or winner Benzema.

READ MORE: Chelsea, Crystal Palace to battle for wantaway Serie A star; €35m required to tempt Mourinho into sale

“Rayan Cherki continues to attract speculation and the latest is that Chelsea are in for him,” Johnson said in an interview with CaughtOffside. “He’s a very exciting talent, somebody who looks to have a great career ahead of him. Similarly to Eden Hazard when he first established himself in Ligue 1, he looks very technically skilled, versatile, and he’s probably the best young player to emerge from Lyon’s youth academy for many years, possibly even since Karim Benzema.”

However, Johnson went on to cast doubt over whether Lyon would be up for selling Cherki. While they are in financial difficulty, they would rather lose just one young player in Castello Lukeba than sell all of their exciting talents.

Chelsea will have to deal with Lyon stance

“The only problem with players at Lyon at the moment is the club’s current financial situation – they’ve had limits imposed on them by French football’s financial watchdog. Lyon now have to raise funds, but they’re also very reticent to cash in on some of their young talent,” the reporter added.

“Castello Lukeba is of major interest to RB Leipzig now that Josko Gvardiol is nearing a switch to Manchester City, so it’s hard to imagine a situation where OL risk cashing in on Lukeba, Cherki and also Bradley Barcola, who is of major interest to a number of clubs in Europe, especially PSG.

“It’s going to be an interesting and potentially challenging summer for Lyon where all those players have major interest and I think it makes it trickier for any one deal such as Cherki to Chelsea to come off, especially as Lukeba is the one who’s furthest along in sealing a move away at this moment in time.”

It seems Chelsea will have to put some big money on the table in order to convince Lyon on selling Cherki. That would have been impossible earlier in the transfer window, due to potential Financial Fair Play restrictions, but Chelsea might now be able to do this after letting a plethora of players leave.

Meanwhile, Pochettino has hinted at how Nkunku will be used at Chelsea after he scored his debut goal in the friendly win over Wrexham.