Back in 2011 when Lille won the domestic double under Rudi Garcia, there was one influential youngster who had been an undisputed first team player, Eden Hazard. He scored seven goals in Lille’s title winning season, but his importance to the side was far more than that, he played all 38 games in the league but had a 0.9 shots per game average only but he was much better in terms of key passes as he delivered over 2.5 per game and his total of 7 assists meant only that his team-mates were wasteful. In addition to his passing skills, his successful dribbles per game averaged 2.8 more than any other player in the league. That season was definitely an improvement for him compared to the previous one and the one that followed was far better as he reached 20 league goals.
The entire world took notice of that kid, the best clubs sought him and he finally decided to join Chelsea one season after winning the double with Lille. Chelsea knew that they had signed a prodigy, a player who doesn’t only have a bright future but who’s also ready to deliver instantly. In his first season in the Premier League, he settled in quite quickly but he wasn’t playing his best football, he scored only nine goals that season and it was obvious that he was playing in a foreign league. This season he has been able to improve his understanding of the game in England and he tallied 14 goals in the league and two in The Champions League so far. He also provided seven assists to his team-mates. These stats prove that Hazard has become Chelsea’s main man in just two seasons at the club and he’s still 23 years old!
Jose Mourinho’s bold move in benching Juan Manuel Mata was criticized by many, but the Portuguese manager was lucky or perhaps was smart enough to rely on the in-form Belgian winger.Mourinho is a demanding manager and he was the right person to coach Eden and push him to develop his game. The Belgian proved that he was able to stand up for the responsibility when players like Demba Ba, Fernando Torres and Samuel Eto’o failed. His moments of brilliance created scoring chances for Chelsea out of nothing this season and this is all down to Mourinho who gave him more confidence and trust.
The interesting thing about the player is that his average shots per game remained the same compared to last season and in fact he has created more chances per game under Mourinho than he did in the previous season (2.4 to 1.9). This reflects that he hasn’t become a selfish player but rather a better converter of shots as his conversion rate increased by 9%. His body indeed helps him a lot just like Lionel Messi, he’s quite small which helps him control the body better with his feet and forces opposition to foul him in dangerous areas when they attempt to take the ball from his feet, but Eden has something that the Argentine lacks that is power. Eden of course is still far from reaching Lionel Messi but he is a player who has power in his legs and knows how to use it well.
This year, he deservedly won the Young player of the year in the Premier League but at 23, he has plenty of time to match the reputation he had in France that saw him crowned Ligue 1 player of the year in consecutive seasons prior to his big money move to Chelsea. He will only improve next season but the big challenge awaits him this summer with Belgium at the World Cup.