The 2014-15 season was a memorable one for Chelsea as they successfully captured the title in emphatic fashion, and the name on everyone’s lips was Eden Hazard.
The diminutive Belgian was the driving force behind Chelsea’s push for the title with his 20 crucial goals through the course of the season. His form ensured that Chelsea didn’t feel the pinch of Diego Costa’s injury or Oscar’s inconsistent form in attack. Having arrived in the summer of 2012 for a massive fee of 32 million pounds from French side Lille, Hazard was always pinned for bigger things. Fulfilling all expectations, he has not let the Stamford Bridge down.
Blessed with mesmerising pace, surreal ball control, incisive passing and accurate shooting, Hazard has all the weapons in his armoury to gun down oppositions, be it large or small. His performances this season have drawn comparisons with the two biggest stars of World Football namely Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, with many claiming that he is already very close to the level of these megastars. Let’s have a look at his chances of winning the prestigious Ballon d’Or award.
If there was any format of the game in which Ronaldo and Messi have massively underperformed, it has to be the International arena. Ronaldo has failed to win any major silverware with Portugal in all these years, majorly due to poor squad selection and constant managerial changes. Messi, on the other hand, has very few excuses for not winning much with his star-studded Argentina squad that boasts of some of the biggest names in Europe.
If Hazard can guide the Red Devils of Belgium to victory in Euro 2016, there would be no greater testimony to his ability. The current Belgium squad is brimming with young talented stars like Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku, etc. who have the hunger and determination to win trophies for their country. Their performance in the recently concluded World Cup didn’t go unnoticed and were probably a sign of things to come.
Another key area that probably decides a player’s chances of getting his hands on the prestigious Ballon D’or is his team’s ability to win silverware and his contributions in title-winning seasons. There have been seasons where Ronaldo was statistically mindboggling but United/ Real Madrid’s failure to win silverware ensured the crown went to Messi. Chelsea has just reclaimed the English crown, but a European crown with Hazard in the lead would make Eden a genuine contender for the coveted crown.
Centre of attraction
Often in the past Barcelona and Real Madrid had become a one-man club. A common spectator often equates the club with the player. Such is the ability of theses legends to garner eyeballs with the spectacular performances week in and week out. Hazard is currently far from being the whole and soul of Chelsea, but he has often shown glimpses of it this season. Whether or not he eclipses his teammates on the pitch will probably be seen in the coming years.
Another massive factor in the making of a star is his luck with injuries. Often in the past we have seen a potential career being ruined by injuries and the player’s struggle to recreate the magic he could once effortlessly perform. Many players who often become contenders for Ballon D’or fail to perform consistently due to injuries (Eg. Frank Ribery). Recently, Jose Mourinho had appealed for greater protection of players like Hazard, who are often victims of cynical late tackles. Sir Alex Ferguson had also made similar appeals during Ronaldo’s days at Manchester United. Hazard has an able and understanding manager in Mourinho who will be able to manage club-country commitments and rotate his squad well to avoid aggravating any injuries.
No matter how talented a player is, he can never do everything alone because football is a team sport. Messi had the legendary duo of Xavi and Iniesta to support him through his younger days at Barca while Ronaldo had Rooney, Berbatov and Tevez at United and Di Maria, Benzema and Ozil at Real. The current Chelsea line up has no shortage of attacking talent that can assist and supplement Hazard existing attacking prowess. The likes of Fabregas, Costa, Oscar, and Willian can be brutal on any given day making Chelsea almost uncontainable.
For far too long the Ballon D’or has been a two-horse race between the Portuguese Talisman and the Argentine Magician. Over the years, there have been a few fresh contenders like Robben or Ribery, who have made the occasional bid to dethrone Ronaldo and Messi’s monopoly.But none of them could even get close. Consider Ronaldo’s recent performances, they have been statistically brilliant but have failed to translate into silverware for Real Madrid. Whereas, due to Messi’s transformation into a feeder for Neymar and Suarez, there is definitely a change in store in the balance of power in World Football and Eden Hazard seems to be the strongest contender at the moment. The next two seasons will decide whether Hazard will be The World’s Best Footballer or just another contender.
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Edited By: Siddharth Dutta
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