From Chelsea’s superstar to PSG’s love - The story of Eden Hazard so far
On Monday, Belgians were tactically outclassed by Conte’s Italy in the Euro 2016. Chelsea’s prized asset faced off against Chelsea’s incoming manager and unsurprisingly, Belgian Captain Eden Hazard’s struggle on the field continued.
Chelsea miraculously won the Champions League in 2012 under the spirited leadership of club legend Di Matteo and a certain 21-year-old Belgian midfielder took to twitter to announce that he is signing for the champions.
Eden Hazard was a rising star at his former club Lille. He had been voted the league’s Player of the Year two times in a row. He knew he wasn’t going to stay in France forever. Big clubs across Europe were taking note. His ambition combined with colossal potential meant his transfer to one of the bigger leagues in Europe was not a question of if but when.
The long drawn out transfer saga
Constant news and rumblings coming out from France highlighted Hazard as the next big thing in world football. All news outlets linked Hazard to various top clubs across Europe including Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern, Manchester clubs, Chelsea, Arsenal, and Spurs.
One of Hazard’s worry seemed to have been featuring for the first team week in week out and given his rising stature across world football, there were few clubs who couldn’t afford him that.
Chelsea bringing home the Champions League trophy in 2012 tipped the transfer race in their favor and Eden Hazard was signed for a reported fee of 32 million pounds in the summer of 2012.
From PotY at Lille to PotY at Chelsea
Hazard started his Chelsea career in decent fashion, as he turned a Wigan Athletic defender inside out at the half way line before embarking on a pacey solo run to set up Ivanovic for a match-winning goal. His dazzling feet and magnetic ball control attracted comparisons with the likes of Messi and Ronaldo.
This also made him the most fouled player in the Premier League. Defenders simply did not have an answer to his trickery and quick feet. He never complained about the kicks in the shin and carried on with the game every single time.
Also Read: Eden Hazard – The inconsistent peril
He thrived under Jose Mourinho – a manager who once used the press to publicly criticize his star man for not tracking back, later revealed that he had started calling him ‘Eddy’ and that they got along well. Hazard learned important aspects of the game under a manager who had coached some of the best players in the world.
Hazard improved the defensive aspect of his game bit by bit and tactically became a much better player than he was when he had left France for London. Constant tormenting of defenses using his pace, quick feet, trickery, low center of gravity ala Messi meant he won the PFA Player of the Year award for 2014/15 season, scoring 13 goals and assisting 8.
From hero to villain – The decline of Eden Hazard
Chelsea’s problems started even before the season kicked off. Micheal Emenalo failed to capture the signings that Jose Mourinho wanted, and instead delivered few substandard players devoid of Chelsea quality.
Chelsea started the season poorly and the bad run ended Jose Mourinho’s much talked about second stint at his ‘home’. Players were blamed for the sacking of Jose Mourinho and were labeled rats when Chelsea took the field against Sunderland in their next league game. Eden Hazard was at the center of it all.
Even after Guss Hiddink brought a much-needed stability to the gameplay, Hazard found it difficult to get going. The goal drought of previous year’s player of the year was alarming and he soon started looking disinterested during games. The media had a story to tell when his affair with PSG was made public by the player himself, as he did nothing to dump those rumors.
Eden Hazard can still be one of the best in the world. One bad season doesn’t change the potential of a player, just as one good season doesn’t make anyone world class.
How good is Hazard? If he’s really the superstar waiting to explode into the limelight alongside players like Neymar and Pogba, he has a lot more work to do.
Marc Wilmot’s decision to give him the Captain’s armband has only added to his responsibility at EURO 2016, with the whole world and the transfer market biggies watching him keenly.
With Chelsea missing out on a Champions League spot, it will be interesting to see whether Hazard is ready to stay at Chelsea and rebuild his reputation. It is going to be a test of attitude and determination for the potential superstar, one who has the ability to take on the world’s best if he wishes.