Eden Hazard: Mourinho’s Masterpiece In The Making
With Eden Hazard in sumptuous form once again against Manchester City this week, Tom Gatehouse looks at the notable growth of the Belgian under Jose Mourinho.
Chelsea’s magnificent victory over Manchester City on Monday was arguably Jose Mourinho’s greatest achievement since returning as Blues boss, with his team producing a performance worthy of their lofty position in the Premier League.
The Portuguese’ insistence that Chelsea are not in the running for the title this season was in complete contrast to his side’s sheer brilliance against the most feared team in the country, and no-one will argue that the Blues are not capable of beating the odds, and triumphing come the end of the season.
Eden Hazard, Chelsea’s man of the moment, played arguably his best 90 minutes in a Chelsea shirt, and tore at City with a ferociousness that really typified his continued evolution under the hand of Mourinho.
Given the freedom to roam, Hazard completed a game-high 11 dribbles, more than twice the amount of the next-best Jesus Navas. His slaloming-style of attacking, where he dances at pace around multiple challenges, has had fans and pundits alike hailing the 23-year-old as the best winger in the league on current form.
Hazard dragged a shell-shocked City defence all over the pitch on Monday night, teasing and twisting away from challenge after challenge. City’s Zabaleta, arguably the best right-back in the league, had no answer to Hazard’s trickery. Demichelis looked a beaten man right from the off in defensive midfield, with Hazard cutting line upon line across the Argentine’s path, who span like a whirling dervish.
Mourinho is acutely aware of the Belgian’s talent and potential, and has now claimed that his charge is the best young player in the world,
“I keep saying he has to improve. He needs to have his feet on the ground. Ronaldo and Messi are Ronaldo and Messi. Eden Hazard is probably the best young player in the world with legs to go there, but give him time.” [source: ESPN]
While it is quite clear the majority of football fans across the world that Hazard possesses quite extraordinary talent, his true potential was actually lost on the man himself, as he said in January,
“I realise that I can compete with Messi and Ronaldo in the near future, if I put in some more effort,” said Hazard. “I don’t know if I will ever reach their level. It’ll be hard, they have incredible stats, but I accept the challenge. Of course I want to be the best in the world. Previously I was more worried about the game itself: football was just a game for me, I wanted to amuse myself and didn’t bother what the people thought about me. But since I’m here at Chelsea I’ve become more aware of my qualities, I guess. Before I knew I was a good player but not one of the better players in the world.” [Source: Sky Sports]
Following his £32m signing from Lille in 2012, Hazard certainly had an impressive in his debut season, but his was always a special talent that needed expert nurturing,
This type of heavy-handed approach was perhaps needed for a player who was in danger of failing to take the next step in his evolution.
Hazard acknowledged this back in January,
“I’m now important for the team, I give good passes, I score more goals and Chelsea is performing well. Everyone expects more from me. I hear it every day. Maybe I need these little comments, too. When a manager always says, ‘Eden, you’re doing great’, there is a threat that you can snooze. As a professional you have to challenge yourself every day. Put yourself in front of a mirror. The manager is close to his players but when he has something to say, he does to your face, in a friendly way. And he knows how to challenge his players.
“At Lille, in France, I sometimes played on a high level too but I was more focused on the beauty of the game and how I could entertain the audience. I still try to do that but I’ve become more efficient now and have become a real team player. I have the image of someone who doesn’t care. But I’ve been playing professional football for five seasons now, I rarely was injured, I follow a strict diet, I sleep well, I rest and I’m always on time. No one can ever accuse me of not living for my job, because I do.” [Source: Sky Sports]
This season, Hazard has played a part in every one of Chelsea’s Premier League matches, has scored nine goals and assisted a further eight, and is considered one of the very first names on the team-sheet. Not since Arjen Robben have Chelsea had such a scintillating winger at their disposal, and if Hazard and Chelsea can continue to produce displays such as on Monday night, they could catch Arsenal and Manchester City off guard, and become champions of England once again.
What do you think? Is Hazard the best winger in the league? Can Chelsea win the Premier League? Let me know in the comments below…
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