Chelsea have been given a two transfer window ban by FIFA for breaching the rules around the transfer of minors — and it could see Eden Hazard stay at Stamford Bridge.
However, they announced late on Friday morning that they would be appealing the decision after ‘categorically’ refuting the findings of FIFA’s disciplinary committee.
The west London club’s ban relates to the signings of minors, with the investigation sparked by the circumstances surrounding the arrival of former player Bertrand Traore.
They had been found to have breached article 19 of FIFA’s regulations with regards to the transfer of 29 minor players and article 18 regarding two further minors.
They have now been banned from registering new players for the next two transfer windows — the coming summer window and next January. But Sportsmail understands they have been prepared for this eventuality for a while.
They will first appeal to FIFA and then the Court of Arbitration for Sport. That means they will almost certainly be able to get the ban pushed back until after the summer window, in order to do any key business.
They have also been fined 600,000 Swiss Francs (£460,314). The FA have been found to have breached the rules in connection with minors too and have been fined 510,000 Swiss Francs (£391,260) — they have announced they will be appealing that decision.
Chelsea will now be desperate to keep hold of Hazard despite the serious interest from Real Madrid. The Belgian is a long-term target for Real but with Chelsea limited when it comes to signing replacements over the next two seasons, he may have to stay.
Callum Hudson-Odoi may also struggle to move to Bayern Munich, while Ruben Loftus-Cheek could have to stay at Stamford Bridge.
They will have to make decisions over the futures of David Luiz, Olivier Giroud, Gary Cahill, Willy Caballero and Rob Green. Their contracts run out in the summer but Chelsea can renew their deals in lieu of signing new players.
Chelsea are also in a difficult position given the situation surrounding Maurizio Sarri. The Italian manager is under pressure with his side sixth in the Premier League.
They will lose Mateo Kovacic, pending their likely appeal, with his loan to expire in the summer.
Gonzalo Higuain’s future is less clear as Chelsea have an option to sign him on an extended loan or permanent deal as part of his loan from Juventus.
The signing of Bertrand Traore in 2014 sparked the investigation into their business. This took place over three years, from 2015.
They are thought to have signed Traore before his 18th birthday, and have provided misleading information as to when he was signed.
Chelsea paid his mother £155,000 in 2011 to take a first refusal option on him and then £13,000 to the club chaired by his mother, AJE Bobo-Dioulasso.
Traore was sold to French side Lyon in June 2017 for £8.8million, having played a total of 16 games for Chelsea.
A FIFA statement read: ‘The FIFA Disciplinary Committee has sanctioned the English club Chelsea FC and The Football Association for breaches relating to the international transfer and registration of players under the age of 18.
WHO IS BERTRAND TRAORE?
Bertrand Traore is a 23-year-old winger who plays for Lyon in the French top flight.
Chelsea signed officially as an 18-year-old in January 2014. It had been reported previously that he had joined the academy but Chelsea insisted that was not the case in January 2012.
He played a pre-season friendly as a trialist in July 2013 against Singha All Stars.
After signing officially he moved to Vitesse on loan. Traore spent a period in the first-team at Chelsea in 2015-16.
He then went out on loan again, to Ajax, reaching the Europa League final. That season impressed Lyon, who paid £8.8million to sign him in July 2017.
‘Chelsea was found to have breached art. 19 of the Regulations in the case of twenty-nine (29) minor players and to have committed several other infringements relating to registration requirements for players.
‘The club also breached art. 18bis of the Regulations in connection with two agreements it concluded concerning minors and which allowed it to influence other clubs in transfer-related matters.
‘The Disciplinary Committee sanctioned Chelsea with a ban on registering new players at both national and international level for the next two (2) complete and consecutive registration periods.
‘This ban applies to the club as a whole – with the exception of the women’s and futsal teams – and does not prevent the release of players. Additionally, the club was fined CHF 600,000 and given a period of 90 days to regularise the situation of the minor players concerned.
‘The Football Association was also found to have breached the rules in connection with minors.