We have all heard of the phrase ‘saving the best until last’. Well, Eden Hazard might be doing just that for Chelsea. With a dream move to Real Madrid seeming more and more likely by the hour and Hazard having put up some outrageous numbers so far this season, has he saved his brilliant best for his final season at the Bridge?
Since joining in 2012, Hazard has consistently been one of the best in the league, with plenty of accolades to show for it. He has made the PFA Team of the year in 4 out of his 6 seasons in England, and looks set to feature in it again this year. The Belgian was also player of the year in 2014/15 and has a goal of the month and two player of the months to his name. But it’s not just his personal accolades that are impressive. In his time with the London club he has won one FA Cup, one League Cup, two League titles and a Europa League. So there is no doubt that he is a top class player, but is this his best season to date?
After his breakout out season in France where he helped Lille to a first league title since 1954, Chelsea picked up the highly sought-after 21 year-old for £32 million. At the time that was a seen as a high price for such a young player, but looking back that seems like a bargain. In his debut season for the Blues he scored nine league goals and registered 11 assists. As well as this, he netted three times in domestic cups and a crucial equaliser against Sparta Prague on the way to Chelsea winning the Europa League and it adds up to a pretty impressive first season in London. The next year was a year of firsts for Hazard. In October he appeared in the 23 man shortlist for the prestigious Ballon d’Or for the first time. In February he scored his first Premier League hat-trick
against Newcastle and come April, he had won the PFA Young Player of the year for the first time as well. With one more goal contribution in the league than last season, and more influence in Europe, his second season was arguably better than his first.
Unsurprisingly, he continued his incredible into the 14/15 season. After Juan Mata’s departure, Hazard was awarded the number 10 shirt and he took to it well. He scored another 14 goals in the league and set up a further nine. He also helped the Blues win some silverware in the form of the League Cup and Premier League title. At the end of the season he wrapped up the Chelsea player of the year for the second year running and won the PFA player of the year. It was, once again an incredible season but by now Chelsea fans had come to know nothing less from the Belgian.
Then came Hazards Ill-fated 15/16 season. This season is the main reason that many people don’t think Hazard is a world class player. They see one poor season from him and suddenly he becomes ‘inconsistent’ and ‘doesn’t do it often enough.’ In all honesty it was poor season from him, only contributing to 7 goals in the league and scoring two more in other competitions. However it wasn’t just Hazard who had a bad season. The Blues finished in 10th that season, so one to forget for fans and players alike.
However the next year Hazard quickly put his bad form behind him, and had equalled the previous season’s goal tally by October. He also put in numerous man of the match performances during Chelsea’s famous 13 game winning run on the way to the title and featured in the PFA team of the year for the fourth time in five seasons. Whilst he had a good season, it was still not his best at the club, as he failed to replicate the form that won him the Player of the Year in 2015. Despite still picking up 16 goal contributions in the league, 17/18 was a below par season for Hazard as Chelsea finished a lowly fifth in the league. He did, however score the only goal in the FA Cup final which won his fifth trophy with Chelsea. An impressive haul in only six seasons.
After a managerial shake-up, this season has been the first season Hazard has played under an attacking manager whilst wearing Chelsea blue. He has been set free of defensive duties by Maurizio Sarri and it shows. In 33 appearances he has netted 16 times and notched up 12 assists in a Chelsea side who are inconsistent to say the least. And it’s not just the quantity of the goals, but the quality has been out of this world. Hazard is known for his mazy defender-beating runs but this season has scored top class goals against Liverpool, Brighton and West Ham to name a few. He also leads the league for dribbles, and chances created yet is still not being considered for POTY due to impressive seasons from Virgil van Dijk and Raheem Sterling.
For me, this has been Hazards best season as he has been let loose under Sarri and appears reborn. He has already beaten his previous best return for a season in terms of goals and assists with four games still to play. He has also shown professionalism by maintaining top form even whilst the rumours linking him to Real Madrid become more and more prevalent. He has often stated his desire to just do his best for the team and help win the Europa League in what could be his final season.
Throughout his seven years at the club Eden Hazard has become the clubs star man in the 2010’s era and almost any fan you ask will say he deserves his dream move to the Spanish capital to have a shot at winning the Ballon d’Or wearing the white of Real.