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360 Verdict: Eden Hazard

360 Verdict: Eden Hazard
Eden Hazard is someone that every football fan in the world is familiar with. The transfer saga surrounding Hazard was one of the most dramatic ones in football history. At the end of it all though, Chelsea was the club that Hazard chose to join. So why was it that almost every top club in Europe was seeking to sign Hazard? Let’s take a look.
Eden Hazard is a 21 year old Belgian international footballer. He primarily plays as winger or an attacking midfielder. Chelsea signed Hazard this season from French side LOSC Lille for a reported fee of £32 million on a weekly wage of around £170,000.

Some would say that a fee of that magnitude is too much for a player untested in the Premier League. But considering what Hazard brings to the table, this might well turn out to be a bargain for Chelsea over the years. He was the first non French player to win the Ligue 1 player of the season award. This was a memorable feat in itself. However Hazard went on to do something that even the likes of Zidane and Thierry Henry had not managed to do. He won the award for two consecutive years.
Being 5 feet 8 inches tall, Hazard’s main skill is his pace and dribbling skills. He has a low centre of gravity which helps him move faster. The speed with which he breezes past defenders leaves many astonished. He also has the ability to dribble at a speed and beat players one on one. This is one of the most important things for Chelsea and something that we were severely lacking last season. Hazard also has a vision and the creativity to set up goals for others.
Last season Hazard was one of the very few players on the earth who had more than 15 goals as well as assists. His statistics of 20 goals and 17 assists in 42 appearances for Lille last season and certainly very impressive. These statistics clearly show that Hazard is not selfish and creates plenty of opportunities for others. His performances last year impressed everyone and due to his speed and passing skills he was said to be like Lionel Messi and Christiano Ronaldo.
Hazard has an impressive passing rate of 82.2%. His average key passes per game are 2.2 which is certainly an important skill. He is skilled at finding spaces and delivering those crucial passes. Also Hazard has shown that he is not prone to injury and he was not at all injured last season despite being one of the most fouled players in Ligue 1. This, particularly, is important as Chelsea will be playing in many tournaments next season and would be needing him to be fit. Hazard’s one drawback is that he does not dive into tackles and hesitates to challenge for the ball. But playing as an attacking midfielder would nullify this.
Positionally speaking, Hazard was a winger earlier. He can play on both wings and is a success too. However, he was shifted to a central attacking midfield position this season and his performance improved drastically. Playing in the hole behind the striker, Hazard was the provider of many crucial assists. Also, being in the centre of the field gave him more space and freedom to use his creativity. Hazard even prefers this spot and he mentioned in earlier interviews that he wanted to play in this position itself at his new club. But even though this position suits him, Hazard is a drifter and is continuously moving around the field. So, playing him on the wings wouldn’t be a problem. As the position in the hole behind the striker is currently occupied by Juan Mata at Chelsea, we can expect Hazard to play on one of the wings. Mata and Hazard would switch positions during the game. This would give both of them a chance to create opportunities and score goals. It would also confuse the defenders and make it difficult for them to mark these two.
However despite all his abilities, Hazard has one huge flaw- his ego and his attitude towards authority. We all saw his ego when he put forward huge personal demands for the club that wanted to sign him. He also insisted that he would be the one to announce which club he had signed for via his twitter account. This in itself is an indicator that he is a person who is certainly not among the most humble players. Hazard’s attitude has harmed him in the past too. At the start of the 2010-11 campaign, Hazard was severely criticized by Belgium football team coach Georges Leekens, who accused him of being lazy in training. Thereafter, he was also dropped by Lille coach Rudi Garcia and did not start a league game again for Lille until November 2010. Since then however, he reestablished himself as an integral part of the team.
His attitude, although problematic, can be expected to be handled well by Roberto Di Matteo at Chelsea. RDM showed that he is a great people manager last season. When he took over, the dressing room was full of hurt egos and was divided. RDM united all the players, restored the seniors and brought the team together. We can expect that he will similarly subdue Hazard’s ego and integrate him into the team.
Along with Hazard, Chelsea have also signed Marko Marin. Marin possesses similar skills as Hazard. But Hazard has proved himself and is certain to be in the first team for most of the matches unlike Marin who will have to prove that he can play in the top division. At only 21, Hazard still has a long way to go and can be expected to reach great levels of success. What he does of his talent is yet to be seen but what we can surely say right now is that Chelsea have signed a truly promising player.

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