There’s no doubting that Eden Hazard has the potential for greatness. He is in that bracket just below the world’s very best in Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi and with time on his side, there is every chance he could reach the very top of the game – he’s that good.
And the man that is left in charge of getting the best out of the Belgian winger is Blues boss Jose Mourinho, and it has been intriguing to see how the Portuguese has gone about acheiving this over the past two seasons at Stamford Bridge.
There were some tricky moments – such as when Hazard went on an unauthorised overseas trip and lost his passport – and Mourinho made it publically known that he wasn’t impressed with his midfielder’s behaviour.
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Then their relationship together was further tested by Champions League elimination, with both Hazard and Mourinho taking swipes at each other in comments made after their exit from the competition.
Hazard said the Blues were “not set up to play football,” before Mourinho responded by saying that Hazard was “not ready to sacrifice himself 100 per cent for the team,” after failing in his defensive duty.
However, in their second season together following some tough love first time around, things went far smoother as Chelsea stormed their way to the Premier League title.
And rather than taking swipes and comments about Hazard’s work rate, Mourinho has now taken on the role as Hazard’s main protector instead.
“In the Premier League last season Eden was very lucky not to break a leg,” said Mourinho, on the eve of the new season. “I would like more protection for him.”
And you would have to agree with Mourinho here, as Hazard was the most fouled player in the Premier League last season – a whopping 208 times to be precise.
However, despite all the knocks, scrapes and bruises, the diminutive midfielder appeared in all 38 Premier League matches it is a significant achievement for the Belgium international.
And staying fit is a big part of the battle for the very best players. Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo don’t get injured all too often, which has allowed the pair to break all of kinds of records on their journey to greatness. That esteemed pair, however, have only played a full league season just once each, compared to Hazard’s three.
So we know Hazard has the fitness levels, the right attitude to get to the top and his quality is simply not in question. Hazard has fantastic ability, close control and speed that is up there with the best in the Premier League – and at just 24-years-old, the Chelsea man has time on his side to make the next step up.
However, perhaps the biggest problem for Hazard is that his manager always puts the team’s achievements over individual players. Testament to this is that no player has scored over 20 league goals in a season during his time at the club.
He really could be given the license to become one of the very best in the world, and he will surely be given the chance to do this as Mourinho rates him so highly. He has already claimed that last season Hazard was better than Ronaldo, but the stats show a different story with Ronaldo scoring 48 goals to Hazard’s 14.
When comparing the pair at the same age it is true that their are some similarities, Hazard is on 99 goals, compared to Ronaldo’s 123 goals at the age of 24, and the next few years could be crucial for Hazard to get to the huge numbers that Ronaldo tallies each season.
But even if he doesn’t manage it under Mourinho, he will certainly win a lot of trophies and, if that defines success, then Hazard will forever been known as one of the game’s most successful players.