Who is Chelsea’s Player of the Season?

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The Europa League final is still to come but the Blues have already qualified for the Champions League - here, Goal selects their top three performers

Chelsea have had a peculiar season.

They may have suffered their worst-ever Premier League defeat, to Manchester City, as well as several other embarrassing results but they still managed to secure a third-place Premier League finish, and reach two cup finals.

City beat Chelsea on penalties in the Carabao Cup final, but the Blues have another chance at glory with a Europa League final against Arsenal in Baku on May 29.
So, 2018-19 has hardly been a disaster for under-fire coach Maurizio Sarri, who arrived at Chelsea last summer alongside his key man at former club Napoli, midfield metronome Jorginho.

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They were then joined at Stamford Bridge in August by Kepa Arrizabalaga – for a world-record fee for a goalkeeper – and Mateo Kovacic, who was signed on loan from Real Madrid.

Alvaro Morata left and Gonzalo Higuain arrived in January, as Sarri attempted to aid his implementation of a revolutionary new style of play at the west London club with another familiar face.

However, two popular home-grown stars have emerged during the season, in Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi – with Chelsea having had to fight hard to resist Bayern Munich's January advances for the latter.

So, after much deliberation, Goal has selected Chelsea's top three performers of the 2018-19 campaign. Let us know how you feel about the choices in the comments section below!


3. JORGINHO


Jorginho Chelsea 2018-19

One of the most fascinating stories of the Premier League season has been the introduction of Jorginho to English football.

Pundits and analysts have derided Jorginho over his lack of physicality as Sarri replicated a version of his Napoli formation at Chelsea. Jorginho has played in the middle of a three-man midfield, with N'Golo Kante in a more advanced, box-to-box type role on the right.

Another midfielder would play left of them in the 4-3-3 system but Jorginho has been singled out by the English media for his inability to track back – particularly when Chelsea’s form took a downturn in the winter period.

However, Chelsea's team has been built around the deep-lying playmaker from day one and he has grown into the league after a weak middle period to his campaign.

With an incredible 3,118 passes, he has been the central figure in Sarri's system. This has meant the team has consistently suffocated lesser opponents through possession – and those who criticise him for a lack of goals or assists misunderstand his role.

Sarri is just one of many figures from within Chelsea to come to the defence of the ever-present midfielder, who has shown signs he has adapted to the league. In a season of very few standout performers at Chelsea, Jorginho deserves his third spot here.


2. N'GOLO KANTE


N'Golo Kante Chelsea

For the first time during his spell in English football, N'Golo Kante has occasionally faced some negative feedback for his performances.

A title-winner with Leicester City and then with Chelsea, Kante has been a revelation since he came to the Premier League, winning the PFA and FWA Player of the Year prizes in 2016-17.

However, this season he has been asked to become a complete midfielder under Sarri and there were some initial teething problems.

With Jorginho selected in the centre of the midfield three and Kante shifted to a right-centre role, the Frenchman has been asked to add goals and assists to his game – having previously been more of a destroyer and runner in counter-attacking teams.

Kante has proven this season, though, that he can adapt and has shown outstanding technical ability, performing well in some of Chelsea's best moments of the season.

Five goals and four assists have been a significant contribution from a player who has sacrificed and adapted his natural game to help his team.


1. EDEN HAZARD


Eden Hazard Chelsea POTS

It is no mystery who Chelsea's best player has been this season. With 19 goals and 16 assists in all competitions, the Belgian has enjoyed a truly phenomenal personal campaign.

No other Chelsea player managed to reach double figures for goals in the Premier League this term and Hazard's contribution has been crucial to Sarri's side qualifying for the Champions League by finishing third.

Hazard has been involved in 49.2 per cent of Chelsea's league goals this season. He has primarily played from the left, but in the biggest games he has filled in as a centre forward, with the likes of Gonzalo Higuain, Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud too often failing to convince as viable alternatives up front.

At Chelsea, Hazard was voted Player of the Year by both fans and his team-mates, and he has scored several beautiful goals, most notably his solo effort against Liverpool in the Carabao Cup at Anfield.

Unfortunately for Chelsea, though, Hazard looks likely to move to Real Madrid this summer. As Chelsea's undisputed best player, he will be sorely missed.

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