TALENT: Hazard is gradually living up to expectation at Chelsea
Cristiano Ronaldo’s refusal to commit his future to Real Madrid could be bad news for Chelsea.
Ronaldo was receiving the Alfredo Di Stefano award (for best La Liga player last season); arguably Madrid’s greatest player of all time, yet the Portugal captain could not be motivated into pledging his future to the Bernabeu outfit.
So what has that got to do with Chelsea? Well Gareth Bale has been touted to be the next Galatico to arrive Madrid, but 22 year-old Eden Hazard’s emerging brilliance and recent blistering form would have attracted the attention of the powerful European outfit. Further doubts over Ronaldo’s future-his contract ends in 2015-will only accelerate Real’s search for his replacement and Hazard will certainly be a target.
Real Madrid legend and one of the club’s advisors, Zinedine Zidane has never hidden his admiration for Hazard, whom he described as a rarity in the modern game and the former French playmaker will certainly be monitoring his progress at Stamford Bridge where he has been the star performer in recent weeks.
“Eden is technically gifted and very fast. I would take him to Real Madrid with my eyes closed. He can become a great footballer. He is a star of the future”, Zidane had been quoted.
Hazard featured alongside Aston Villa’s Christian Benteke for the Belgium side that failed to make it beyond the first round of the 2007 FIFA U-17 World Cup won by Nigeria. Both players have forged a strong relationship and are key members of their country’s senior national team.
Not much was read into Benteke’s revelation last year that Hazard’s ultimate dream is to play for Real Madrid, but Chelsea’s next managerial decision could play a key role in the former Lille forward’s career at Stamford Bridge.
His development and motivation must be enhanced with a more competitive team, and the Blues must be fighting for major honours next season.
Often times football journalists love to romance the word ‘world class’ in describing talented players and many of them have fallen short of expectation. It’s a mantle worn by players of exceptional abilities who are carefully nurtured to attain greatness.
Chelsea’s next manager can build a successful team around the talented Hazard who is gradually taking more responsibilities, the kind that made him a cult hero at Lille where he won the Ligue 1 and Coupe De France double in the 2010/2011 season and became the French League’s best player two seasons on the trot.
His recent performances suggest a player who will thrive if not inhibited in his role on the pitch and suffer if regimented to the wings. He is an intelligent footballer whose prowess surpasses goalscoring flamboyance, a player who makes teammates profit from his grandeur.
The £32m signing has often been criticised for subdued performances in big games yet played key roles in big wins at London rivals, Arsenal and Tottenham. His second half performance which propelled the Blues to comeback draw at Old Trafford in the FA Cup appeared to have even stimulated his desire to lead the Blues to finishing on a high in a turbulent season for the team.
Hazard has adapted well to the physical aspect of the Premier League, acquitting himself quite well against Stoke (scored a goal of the season contender at the Britannia in Chelsea’s 4-1 win) and was also Man-of-Match on Sunday against West Ham, netting a brilliant second goal- two physical teams.
He has played nearly 60 games for club and country since he joined Chelsea last summer and has suffered over 100 fouls. Yet he has not missed a game through injury. Hazard’s temperament is admirable bar his red card over the ball boy incident at Swansea in January.
It might sound too early, but Chelsea must make Hazard feel at home after snubbing Madrid and other European giants. You think Bale is the real deal? Eden is an orchestra whose chimes captivate even the most uninterested audience. Over to you, Roman.
Let me know what you all think. KTBFFH!
Writer: Semiu Osho