Who is Eden Hazard?
Eden Hazard is Belgian International who plays for French Club Lille. Having played as a young prodigy in Belgian clubs, Royal Stade Brainois and Tubize, he was taken up by Lille in 2005. He made his French Ligue 1 debut at a mere 16 years of age. He gradually went from being a substitute to a star who ran the show last season, scoring 20 goals and providing 16 assists in 38 games last season. He collected the Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year award and was named the Ligue 1 Player of the Year, thus rendering his transition from a precocious talent to an established star complete.
Why is every top club after him?
He has all the qualities that a top footballer today has. Sudden burst of pace, amazing trickery and supreme play making skills make him the kind of player that every top European team would want to have in their squad.
Arsenal, Manchester United and Manchester City wanted to sign the 21-year old Lille youngster. His age explains the behaviour which many irate football fans in England and the world over have termed petulant.
Chelsea entered thebidding late, presumably after they won the Champions League. Eden was shown around by City and Alex Ferguson had attended a few games for Lille to see how he performed.
Zinedine Zidane, the French genius footballer has been said that he believes Hazard is so good, he would sign him eyes closed and top managers like Ferguson and Mancini have praised his style of playing.
Hazard: Chelsea bound
Tweets from Eden himself kept fans guessing as to his ultimate destination untilMonday afternoon when he tweeted that he was joing the Champions League winner
Many fans have not taken to Eden's manner of announcing his decisions regarding which club he seeks to play for this summer. Some have even say he is hated in England already, even before he has barely ever kicked a football in the country. Manchester United fans have branded him a mercenary for choosing Russian roubles while City fans have been less vitriolic, partly because they consider his not joining United a better thing than losing out to Chelsea.
However, the criticism directed at Eden is unfair. He is a 21-year old young man being courted by current Barclays League Champions, the Champions League winner and a historic club from Manchester. It is enough attention to make anyone's ego a little bit bloated. Ont he plus side, he has not advertised his scoring prowess or declared himself the next Messi or Ronaldo himself. He is just being his age, visibly excited at the opportunities being offered to him.
Coming to irate United and City fans, some of them have labelled him a mercenary and some have called him a megalomaniac. Let us not forget that the managers of these very clubs were so eager to sign him before he 'declared' his willingness to go to Chelsea. They obviously saw enough in him to agree to a transfer fee of about 32 million pounds with Lille, a figure all three clubs offered and accepted.
Eden wants playing time at the club he signs with. It is no crime, considering he is a raw talent and more playing time could only do him good. City cannot offer him that, considering the wealth of attacking talent they have in their squad. United certainly can afford him the playing time as they need a creative spark in their midfield which Eden can provide. But, they also have a wage structure to maintain, which does not allow for egregious demands to be made by the Hazard camp.
Alex Ferguson believed the history and culture of United does not support mercenaries like Eden and they would not offer him wages beyond what they considered appropriate. One must consider Rooney's theatrics about how the United squad was incapable of winning trophies and all seemed well after his wages were hiked to astronomical levels. But even accepting his argument would lead Eden to a point where he has to choose between Chelsea and United.
Chelsealet Drogba go and it seems that Kalou and Malouda are on their way out too. They have signed bright youngsters like Marko Marin and Lucan Piazon, who are hungry to prove themselves at the highest level. So, Eden not only gets his playing time at Chelsea, he also gets the chance to get wages closer to his expectations. Let's not forget that Chelsea will also save on the astronomical wages already being paid to Drogba and relatively high wages being given to Kalou and Malouda respectively.
Now, the only point for Eden to consider is if Chelsea offer the same level of ambition that United does. I would argue that they certainly mirror the aspiration United has. In the past 8-9 years, Chelsea is the only team that hasn't come close to winning the Barclays Premier League consistently, other than United themselves. Besides, they will be playing in Champions League next year too. Therefore, he has the option to join the team that plays at the higest level, win trophies and it can offer him the wages he seeks. we wil have to wait and see whether or not this is a match made in heaven.
Chelsea: the right fit for Eden?
Let me put things into perspective. Chelsea is not a side that always plays the boring type of football that so many purists scoff at. If any team had a powerhouse like Drogba, who could keep defenders occupied while creating space for others to work with, would probably do the same. But Drogba is gone now and Torres is going to stay. With Hazard, Chelsea get pace and flair, much like a Mata twin in action on the pitch. Ita lways seemed like Mata was lonely on the pitch and because he did not have the ball more often. He is player of the highest calibre and with Eden playing right behind Torres, Mata can switch places with Eden during the game to devastating effect. With Marin or Sturridge in the flanks, you get a team that has pace and can launch a counter attack with telling precision. Torres himself prefers the ball played ahead of him and with Eden and Mata, there should be no shortage of that.
Of course, it remains to be seem whether Eden can fit into the rigours of the Premier League so early into the season. After all, Drogba is a sterling example of such a successful French Ligue import into English football but for every Drogba, you have Chamak who did not make the grade, despite his talent. But then they say the same stuff about Brazilians too. Ramires and David Luiz at Chelsea have proved the naysayers wrong.
Finally, one must feel elated at the prospect of watching such a talented player grace the Premier League. As for his attitude, Rooney was no saint either when he began what can be described as a trophy-laden stint at United. Hold your breath and watch him strut his stuff. Will he make the cut in the toughest league in the world. My guess is as good as yours.