Eden Hazard has been a Chelsea player for 2 full seasons now, but it was the last 12 months where he really began to show the form that justified the £32 million price tag from Lille. Initially, his talent was obvious for all to see and he was no stranger to the spectacular, but displays were still wrought with a degree of unpredictability. Hazard was absolutely capable of pulling off a 25 yard strike that would find its way into the top corner, but would also be equally adept at going missing for a game or two. Now though, the awards he picked up for this most recent season are evidence enough that he has grown into a much more consistent performer. Terrorising defences on a weekly basis, he was Chelsea’s main man for the entire campaign, often pulling them out of sticky situations when their striking department simply refused to fire on all cylinders. Notching up 17 goals in 49 appearances in all competitions, along with a hatful of assists and magical dribbles earned him the accolades of PFA Young Player of the Year and Chelsea’s Player of the Year Award.
Despite the massively high regard in which Chelsea fans hold their favourite Belgian, José Mourinho was not at all afraid to criticise him. Seemingly the final straw for the Special One was Hazard’s apparent lack of commitment to the team during Chelsea’s home defeat to Atlético Madrid in the 2nd leg of the Champions League semi-final. Hazard let Atlético’s Juanfran run off the back of him, an act which directly led to Chelsea conceding a goal at a vital time in the tie. While Chelsea’s boss did not withdraw him from the fray at the time, he did publicly lambast him in the media during the aftermath. This came as a shock to many, as Mourinho’s usual tactic is to deflect all criticism away from his players onto himself. Furthermore, he left the flying winger on the bench for their next Premier League game seemingly to send a message. Eden Hazard strikes me very much as a player who needs to be loved and appreciated, and after José claimed that he had retained a season-long issue with him regarding his sacrifice for the team, I can’t imagine the Belgian was delighted.
Eden Hazard could not have failed to attract the attention of Europe’s biggest clubs during his time at Chelsea so far, and it seems that the most impressed of them all is Paris Saint Germain. The French league champions are owned by the Qatari royal family and have more than flexed their financial muscle in the recent past. Despite receiving relatively severe sanctions last month for overstepping the bounds set out in Financial Fair Play, their club President has already announced to say that they are not really taking any notice. “The players that I want, I will have,” stated Nasser al-Khelaifi recently. “This changes nothing of the project, the motivation of the club and the players. We respect and accept this decision. But nothing and no one will stop us, we always dream bigger. We had a plan over five years when we bought the club and that will not change. We have already invested a lot in the last three years and we will continue.”
PSG spent a great deal of money acquiring their current squad, but that is not to say that even their recent arrivals are safe from the exit door. Just in terms of the attacking contingent, Jeremy Ménez seems certain to leave and the places of Ezequiel Lavezzi and Edinson Cavani are not guaranteed. You also have to consider that even Zlatan cannot continue forever, despite what he may have you believe. An acquisition not only of the quality of Hazard, but one who also knows Ligue 1 very well, makes perfect sense for PSG to realise their Champions League aspirations.
All signs say that PSG’s advances for Hazard are not just a pipe dream. The powers that be at Stamford Bridge take a different, more respectful view towards FFP, and have serious desires to soon become completely self-sufficient. This requires, from time to time, players to be sold at huge financial gain. The rumoured figure for PSG’s potential bid is anywhere between 60 and 100 million pounds; masses of money in anyone’s eyes. Chelsea will almost certainly at least receive double the amount that they spent for him just two years ago, therefore making good business sense. Considering other factors as well, this is definitely a proposition to seriously think about. José Mourinho seems to an outsider to be the man for the long term at Chelsea and if he no longer feels he can trust Hazard in the biggest matches, is it worth refusing such a huge bid? We have seen José’s defensive tactics being employed to great effect with this side in the away fixtures at Manchester City and Liverpool where The Blues came up trumps.
On Tuesday, it was announced that Eden Hazard had been assigned the number 10 shirt; his favourite, for Chelsea next season. His tweet about the subject will be reassuring for Chelsea fans, but as we know in football, doesn’t make the situation cut and dry. He stated that ‘I hope it brings me a lot of luck in the future and I look forward to the fans seeing me in it next season.’
Personally, I believe that every top team needs a bit of something special, something different, to make them stand out from the rest and really push for success. Hazard is certainly one of these players, having the rare ability to be able to sway the outcome of every match he plays in. Chelsea did not win a single piece of silverware last season and, despite Mourinho’s public protestations to the contrary, I am sure it aggravates him intensely. He may not want to admit it, but retaining the likes of Hazard sends the right message to your rivals, and keeping such mercurial talent in your squad must have a long term benefit for trophy success. I believe that Mourinho would be a fool to allow Hazard to leave for anything less than a world record fee, not because he is the best in the world, but because Chelsea simply do not need to sell. Parting with the Belgian for a fee in the region of £60 million would mean in my opinion that José’s stubborn nature had got the better of him. In PSG’s view, they will keep spending for sure and I don’t think that any price will put them off. In the end, I see Chelsea’s resolve caving at around the £75 million mark, and José returning home with a secret and triumphant smile on his face.