Due to the fact that his brother is regarded as one of the best players in the world, Thorgan Hazard was always going to face an uphill battle to establish himself in football.
Like his older sibling, the Borussia Monchengladbach player is an attacker who likes to run with the ball and create problems for opposition defences.
His family name would have had positives and negatives for him, but ultimately, he has managed to break through and forge a reputation on his own merit during recent years.
The comparisons between the two have been impossible to miss. The 25-year-old has grown used to them as it has happened throughout his career, but he believes that his path in professional football has been more normal than Eden’s.
In an exclusive interview with The Boot Room, Hazard revealed the following:
“I’ve always been compared to him. But I have often said that he is one of the best players in the world at one of the best clubs in the world. He is a genius on the pitch who has skipped several career steps. I, on the other hand, had normal development as a footballer. Although we play in a similar position, we are different players.”
Although he believes his journey has differed to his brother’s, Thorgan was signed by Chelsea shortly after the club paid big money to land Eden.
The attacker was 19 years of age at the time and likely signed to appease his big brother, but it provided him with an opportunity to take his own career to the next level. He didn’t stay long and took the first chance to gain first-team experience through a loan spell.
“I spent only a month at Chelsea. Then I was loaned directly to Belgium and then to Germany. I do not want to say that I learned a lot during the one month, but it was nice to meet the club.”
The Chelsea loan policy has been heavily criticised during recent years as the club was accused of hoarding talent. However, there were benefits for young players as they got a healthy wage and were loaned out to clubs that could give them substantial playing time.
Hazard spent three seasons out on loan before eventually leaving Stamford Bridge without making an appearance in the Premier League. His third season was spent with Borussia Monchengladbach.
It is becoming increasingly common for English youngsters to move to Germany whether permanently or on loan. When asked about for his thoughts on that, Hazard acknowledged the benefits that the Bundesliga provides to a young, developing player.
“A lot of playing time is best for young players to develop. And in Germany, the clubs often give the boys good chances. The Bundesliga is also a very good competition to develop.”
It was in the German top-flight that Hazard really made his name, stepping out of his older brother’s shadow in the process. He went on an initial season-long loan to Borussia Monchengladbach before making the move permanent 12 months later.
During his first campaign with the German club, he started only seven league matches with another further 21 appearances coming from the bench. Despite his limited role, the attacker ended the season with seven assists showing the creativity that he possesses.
Hazard has provided dynamism to the Monchengladbach team since arriving at the club and has played his best football when used in a central role, as his direct style causes problems for opposition teams.
It wasn’t a huge surprise when the Bundesliga side made his deal permanent as they could see his potential and decided they could put the time into his development. He has been an important first-team player since signing, but it has only been this season that he has become an indispensable member of the starting eleven.
Hazard has started 29 times in the Bundesliga and the club have been rewarded with the attacker’s best season in the final third. The Belgian international currently has nine goals and four assists. At the time of writing, he is the team’s top scorer and he has shone in a mixed season for the club as they are currently positioned in 8th.
Monchengladbach are an ambitious club and having played in the Champions League in two of the last three seasons, they will be looking to challenge towards the top of the division. Their current position is not bad, but they will look back on it with some regret.
“I think we had a good first turn, we have achieved good performances and good results. The second half of the season is very difficult.
“We had many injured players and some unfortunate decisions of the referee against us. But that cannot be an excuse. In some cases, we have not shown our best performance. That’s why we are in the middle of the table. Now we want to win the remaining games if possible.”
The team still have an outside chance of qualifying for Europe, but they will require a perfect end to the season and other teams to slip up. They have had problems in both halves of the pitch, but it is their defensive record that has troubled them more. In total, the club have conceded 48 goals, which ranks them as the joint-third worst defence in the division.
In the final third, they have been decent, but they still have the second-worst record in the top half of the table. One player to impress and show consistency has been Hazard. The 25-year-old has scored more league goals than any other player in the squad and he admits that it is enjoying his responsibility in the final third.
“Of course, it’s nice to be the top scorer of his team. But it’s just my job to help the team win games. Being a decisive player also means I’m doing a good job. Whether I’m involved in goals or someone else is not the most important thing.”
Hazard has certainly been a decisive player this season, as he is having his most productive campaign since signing for Monchengladbach. There are a lot of talented players in the squad, but the Belgian international is arguably the standout and it will be important that they keep him if they want to challenge higher up the league next season.
There won’t be a shortage of clubs looking at his as a potential target and this summer could be huge in determining his future. Hazard looks likely to go to the World Cup with Belgium and that will put him in the shop window if he plays and performs well.
Given his brother’s success in England, there could be Premier League interest in the 25-year-old at some point soon. However, he isn’t looking too far ahead of himself.
“Everyone knows the Premier League and it’s an interesting competition. But right now, I have another two years contract with Borussia Mönchengladbach. We will see what the future holds. But I feel very comfortable with Borussia and in the Bundesliga. At the moment I do not think about a change.”
At the age of 25, Hazard has several seasons left at the top level and his gradual improvement until now should offer encouragement that greater things are to come in his career. He has a lot more to give and this season has seen him take his career to the next level.
The Monchengladbach man has gone from decent squad player to leading attacker and he isn’t finished yet.