Premier League 2019-20: 3 ways in which Eden Hazard's departure has benefited Chelsea
The Belgian international had been a long-term target of the LaLiga giants and his departure was probably the worst kept secret of the window. Pretty much everybody - from teammates, fans and pundits to the media - were unanimous in their stand that Hazard would join Los Blancos.
The former Lille man had been nothing short of spectacular for Chelsea during his seven-year spell at Stamford Bridge. He was named the Club's Player of the Year on four occasions, while also being voted the PFA Player of the Year in 2015.
In total, Hazard racked up 110 goals and 79 assists from 352 games in all competitions. And upon his departure, there were many who expressed the opinion that Chelsea would struggle in his absence.
However, that has not been the case and The Blues have largely thrived. They currently occupy the 4th position in the Premier League and posted an impressive seven-match winning sequence in all competitions prior to their defeat against Manchester United in the League Cup.
Chelsea's performance despite Hazard's transfer and their inability to sign players has been impressive, to say the least. Their former number 10's departure might have been a blessing in disguise for the West Londoners.
In this piece, we take a look at three ways in which Hazard's transfer has benefited Chelsea.
#3 It has helped the club become a team and not a one-man show
Hazard's status as a bona fide world-class player means that he has the ability to almost single-handedly decide the outcome of games. Not surprisingly, Chelsea won lots of matches with the Belgian's output.
But that also had the knock-on effect of limiting the contribution of other players. They often took their foot off the pedal knowing that Hazard would be there to bail them out more often than not.
For context, last season, Chelsea scored 63 goals in the Premier League and Hazard was directly involved in 31 of those. He weighed in with 16 goals and 15 assists from 37 league appearances.
In other words, the Belgian captain was directly involved in about 50% of the goals scored by The Blues last season. That shows just how heavily dependent on him the club was.
With Hazard's departure, his goals and assists disappeared too. And more than a handful of pundits and fans believed that Chelsea would struggle in front of goal.
However, that has proved to not be the case. Under Frank Lampard's watch, the five-time Premier League champions have been transformed into one of the most coordinated attacking units in the land. The 25 goals they have scored in the Premier League this season are only bettered by Leicester City and unsurprisingly Manchester City.
There is a spread in attacking contributions, and players like Mason Mount, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Tammy Abraham, Michy Batshuayi and Christian Pulisic now have the freedom to express themselves.
In the absence of a genuine world-class forward, Lampard has had to focus on the collective strength rather than rely on Hazard's individual brilliance to lift them. And it is undeniable that Chelsea are the better for it.