Eden Hazard is a modern footballing brilliance without a shadow of a doubt. He is a player you’d pay to watch any day. The last 18 months have surely been among the most testing of Hazard’s career. But the way the Belgian carried himself even after such a complicated starting to his career at Los Blancos; speaks a volume about the player he is. Eden Hazard will come back. It’s not a matter of ‘will he get his form back?’, but a matter of ‘when’. His brief appearances in Madrid jersey oozes talent and joy. Madrid performs drastically well but most importantly with profound fluidity when Hazard plays. Against Inter Milan he started the match and we witnessed a different Madrid on a do or die match. It’s a blessing that he got Zinedine Zidane as a coach, who protects him immensely and loves him so dearly. He has the full backing of a rather very impatient club. Because the club and the whole world knows the quality of Eden ‘Michael’ Hazard.
On 4 June 2012, Chelsea officially confirmed that the club had agreed on terms with Lille for the transfer of Hazard. He played as a midfielder in Lille. Interestingly in 2008 Frenchman Zinedine Zidane personally recommended the player to Real Madrid. Zidane was always fond of him. But the circumstances lead him to Stamford Bridge. Since 2012, Premier League jealously witnessed the charm and influence of Eden Hazard. In this article, we will talk about his career at Chelsea and how he is so important for Chelsea in his last few years there.
He made his league debut against Wigan Athletic at the DW Stadium. In the contest, Hazard provided the assist for Branislav Ivanović's opening goal and, minutes later, won a penalty, which Frank Lampard converted, earning his side a 2–0 victory. It was a dream debut for the Belgian. He introduced himself in style. Hazard would have notable moments in the season including a long-range strike at Stoke, a stoppage-time equaliser vs Sparta Prague to send Chelsea through in the Europa League, a MOTM display in a 2-0 win vs West Ham, and setting up Frank Lampard’s brace vs Aston Villa. He had a very influential starting to his career at Chelsea which saw 13 goals and 24 assists in all competitions and a Europa League winners medal.
A trophy-less season but one where Hazard shone with 17 goals and 10 assists in all competitions. Notable moments included a first Chelsea hat trick v Newcastle and a brace in a 4-3 win at Sunderland as Chelsea finished 3rd and reached the Champions League semi-finals. Jose Mourinho was full of praise that season- “I keep saying he has to improve. He needs to have his feet on the ground. Ronaldo and Messi are Ronaldo and Messi. Eden Hazard is probably the best young player in the world with legs to go there, but give him time.”
But also in a typical Mourinho way, he also blamed Eden somewhat. After Chelsea's Champions League exit against Atlético Madrid, Hazard claimed that Chelsea is only set up to counter-attack. Mourinho responded by saying that Hazard "is not so mentally ready" to help his defense, blaming him for the first goal scored by the opponent.
But without a doubt, Eden learned a lot in this season. Under Jose, players develop at a ferocious rate, especially attackers. We saw that with Ronaldo, Eto’o, Drogba, Lampard, Benzema and now Harry Kane, Hueng min Son. Eden’s style of play evolved in that season. He played as a winger but also played as a second striker on many occasions. It was this season’s performance that set the tone of his phenomenal performance next season under Jose Mourinho.
19 goals and 13 assists in all competitions from him that season helped Chelsea win a first league title in 5 years & win the League Cup. It was a very important season in Chelsea's history. After the Champions League victory, the players were under severe scrutiny. They even had to recall Jose Mourinho the previous season. But Eden Hazard had one of the most productive years of his career. There were so many key moments but non more important than the title-winning goal vs Palace. After missing the penalty on the rebound he scored one of the most important goals of the season. Hazard was recognized as the best player of the season among his peers, winning the PFA Players' Player of the Year (his first). He was considered among the best three players at the time alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Leo Messi. He also won the league cup that year beating Tottenham.
A tough season for Hazard and Chelsea with only 6 goals and 8 assists. It was a year of scrutiny for him. Many blamed him for ‘Title Hangover’. Hazard endured a 2,358-minute scoreless run across 30 matches until 31 January 2016. It was the year, Jose Mourinho got sacked from Chelsea. Eden was extremely crucial for Chelsea’s success. A dry spell from Eden potentially ended Jose’s time at Chelsea. People look away from this 30 matches' dry run, but it was a time of test for Eden. Without this dry spell, we wouldn't have seen the best of him. Every great player goes through rough phases. But how they come back, proclaims their metal.
Redemption for Hazard as his 17 goals and 7 assists in all competitions helped Chelsea win the Premier League and reach the FA Cup final that season. Under Antonio Contee, he was utilized to his fullest potential. His game improved drastically. So many important contributions but perhaps none more so than the fact 6 of those goals came vs Manchester United, Arsenal, City, and Spurs. He was the big game-big man player for Chelsea. Chelsea won the Premier League and Eden Hazard was the main man behind it.
With big expectations, Hazard entered the new season. He was the shining light in Chelsea’s slumping display of football. A disappointing season for the club as they finished 5th in the premier league. 17 goals & 13 assists in all competitions though again showed the importance of Hazard to this team. He scored the only goal in the FA Cup final win against Manchester United. Hazard won a penalty which he converted to win the only trophy that season. It was a complicated season. But Eden Hazard was constantly shinning week after week. Real Madrid flirted with him that season as Cristiano Ronaldo departed that season. But he wanted to stay one more year and end his career on a high note.
The final season of his career was the best among his recent season. He was under the radar of Real Madrid the whole season and he delivered 21 goals and 17 assists in all competitions helped Chelsea come 3rd in Premier League, reach the League Cup final, and win the Europa League. He also scored his 2nd Chelsea hat trick with 3 goals v Cardiff City. He was in the form of his career. Hazard joined Thierry Henry, Matt Le Tissier, and Eric Cantona to become the 4th player in premier league history to record at least 15 goals and 15 assists in a premier league season. On 29 May, Chelsea won the Europa League following a 4–1 win over Arsenal in the final. The match was a testament to his career at Chelsea. He always delivered in big games. Even if doesn’t score he delivers a standout performance. In the final Hazard scored twice, also assisted Pedro's goal. It was a farewell written in the stars for Chelsea. It was time for him to move on from Stamford Bridge and explore new possibilities. Real Madrid welcomed him with wide arms. It’s the place where he will desire to rise a level above. Real Madrid has a void left by Cristiano Ronaldo. It is 2021. Ronaldo left in 2018. But that void is still empty. Eden is still at Santiago Bernabéu. History waits for Eden to touch the glory.
Before concluding my Eden Hazard reverence, here is one interesting statistic which will fancy you.
Man of The Match (MOTM) awards since 2009/10:
Eden Hazard - 62
Harry Kane - 39
Aguero - 39
Van Persie - 34
Eden Hazard joined the PL in 2012/13 and left in 2018. Let that sink in.