From hero to zero
This time last year Eden Hazard was the overwhelming favourite to win the PFA player of the year award and done so in convincing fashion. Fast forward 12 months and the Belgian international seems to have done a 360 and seems to be a shadow of the player that tormented defences on numerous occasions last year. His rapid decline has been no more evident than the fact that he is still looking for his first league goal this season, with only 6 games remaining. In fairness, not even the most utopian, open-minded football spectator could have foreshadowed what a tumultuous season we’ve had this year. Leicester are on the verge of winning the title, having been at the summit of the table for the majority of the last campaign and Chelsea who won the title at a canter last year, find themselves in mid-table.
So what are the reasons for Hazard’s fall from grace? You can contribute a number of factors such as lack of fitness that have led to injuries (he has started 21 games for the Blues, with 5 more appearances off the bench), comments to the media (his father included) and his relationship with former manager Jose Mourinho.
On his relationship with Mourinho, cracks started to develop as early as August of last year when the outspoken Portuguese inadvertently called out his no.10 after Chelsea’s shock 2-1 loss to Crystal Palace: “If you are the best player in the league, I think it should be a good responsibility to have a similar season than in the previous season. I don’t want to analyse individual performances. In general terms, it is difficult to have a consistent performance when some of the players are not performing at a good level.”
The relationship between the pair soured, as Chelsea went into self-destruct mode with events coming to a head on 14 December when Mourinho claimed that a number of key players betrayed him in the press conference of the 2-1 defeat by Leicester. That proved to be the nail in the coffin for “the special one” as he was given his marching orders by Roman Abramovich (again).
History repeating itself
As mentioned earlier Hazard has a tendency to tease the media with cryptic messages or ill-advised comments. Let’s reminisce to the summer of 2012. One of the major talking points in the football world was whether Hazard would sign for Chelsea or Man United, in what was a rather long overplayed saga. He finally put a rest to the matter with a simple tweet confirming his imminent arrival to west London. As aforementioned, his father Thierry has also been vocal to the media recently by claiming that Chelsea have been pushing his son to play through the pain barrier.
There has been a never-ending story regarding the diminutive Belgian’s future at Stamford Bridge. The most recent claim by the media was that he has already agreed personal terms with Real Madrid for a £32 million move, however he has quashed this, along with the many other rumours surrounding him. His transfer value has dropped significantly and it is clearly evident that he is bereft of confidence with the stats as a means of confirmation to this. The main question is whether incoming manager Antonio Conte sees Hazard as part of his plans at the Bridge.