Chelsea have scored nine goals this season: Eden Hazard has been involved in seven of them.
That stat indicates how well Hazard is fitting into the Premier League and why he was at the centre of so much interest over the summer. A surprisingly small but elusive player on the ball his performances in the first week have proven he can handle the rough and tumble while adding finesse to Chelsea’s play.
… rise to the European Champions…
Born in La Louvière on 7 January 1991, Hazard’s rise to the European Champions has been a relatively quick one. His youth career was spent playing for Belgium teams (Royal Stade Brainois & Tubize) before being spotted by a Lille scout, preferring the potential training facilities that would aid his development in France than staying in Belgium.
It was, obviously, the right choice, as he slowly made his way through the youth teams at Lille making substitute appearances at the beginning of the 2008-09 season. Like many prodigious talents Lille treated him with oven gloves, easing him into the team without a huge amount of expectation. They were rewarded by performances that suggested he could translate his promise into something more. A first senior goal arrived (the youngest player to score for Lille at the time) followed by his first professional start. Things were looking up and Lille sought to tie him to a longer contract.
Yet you can never tie an emerging talent like Hazard down. Rumours of interest from world-renowned clubs emerged in 2010. Clubs from England, Italy and Spain were interested with Zinedine Zidane recommending him to Real Madrid by saying that he “would take him to Real Madrid with [his] eyes closed”.
The transfer speculation eventually became rampant; a Young Player of the Year Award in 2010 was followed by the Ligue 1 Player of the Year award in 2011 which was then followed by another Player of the Year award in 2012. He was destined for a bigger stage and in the summer of 2012 three clubs vied for his signature.
…stamp his own personality…
That he chose Chelsea over the Manchester clubs may have signalled something of a shift but in reality it plays towards Chelsea’s recent history of glamour signings. Joining Chelsea he has a chance to stamp his own personality on a team. So far he looks to be doing so.