Yesterday morning, when Eden Hazard finally revealed via Twitter he had made up his mind about where he would play next season – the attention of every Utd, City and Chelsea supporter was firmly focused on one thing. The Hundreds of comments posted everywhere from fans of all three clubs displayed the dread and hopeful anticipation that hung about this decision. One assumes bloggers from all three fan communities were also all busy drafting two different articles in their head, one lauding the talent and abilities of their team’s new superstar, and another, just in case, to point out what a greedy, egotistical, conceited mercenary he is; indeed that evening I think I think I read the words, “odious little pr**k” on more than one occasion.
In my eyes, the bitterness and resentment shown by Manchester fans on social networks, when Hazard finally revealed he’d chosen the Champions of Europe, represented perfectly what a fantastic coup this was, as well as its significance for Chelsea on more than one level. The fact we were able to sign a long-term MCFC target reaffirms our status as a financial powerhouse in Europe. The disappointment of losing out right at the end on Robinho and then David Silva, understandably put massive dents in the confidence of Chelsea fans, about our ability to attract the world’s best with City’s emergence. This deal though provides some much needed and gratifying reassurance that Roman and the club’s chiefs, with the bit between their teeth, still have what it takes to bring sought after talent to Chelsea – let’s hope they continue to.
(Although the news hasn’t actually been made official yet, at this stage I don’t think there’s any need for concern about Hazard changing his mind. If this wasn’t a done deal, surely the club would’ve released some sort of statement denying the player’s claims. Sky Sports News in Britain has also suggested that Hazard only released his statement after Chelsea had given him permission, so no need to worry)
With regards to the tactical implication of this signing, I’m sure the possibilities have been swimming around in every fan’s head for a while now, and they’d be forgiven for giggling with excitement while they do. Most importantly, this addition eliminates the maddening issue we’ve had to deal with of Juan Mata being our only real creative outlet in midfield. Hazard will not only add another dimension to our team but he should also enhance the capabilities of Mata to contribute to our attacks, offering the Spaniard more support and providing him with more creative freedom. (This was an element to our game that Andre Villas-Boas consistently and correctly highlighted the importance of, but sadly was never really able to facilitate)
A lot has been made of the demands Hazard apparently gave about playing as #10 for his new club. Firstly, I wouldn’t have thought for a second he’d even contemplate asking Mata for his shirt (as some suggested he might) and I don’t think he’d automatically displace Mata in that role behind the forward either. I think that the prospect of being able to interchange roles with Mata and Ramires and Marko Marin in that Chelsea attack, offered him the perfect compromise between fighting for a starting position with Man City’s forward players, and being asked to almost single-handedly run Utd’s increasingly ineffective and width-based midfield. I can’t exactly be asked to be objective in this instance – but I think the boy made the right choice for himself.
At this point the tactical set up I’m dreaming of is to have Fernando Torres supported as he is now, with Mata in the hole, Hazard and Marin drifting in as wing forwards, with Ramires making those dangerous and lightening quick runs from deep, whilst he holds the midfield with the ever-improving John Obi Mikel. We may yet have to alter that system to accommodate for Porto’s Brazilian forward Hulk, whom it seems is definitely transferring this summer and whom we continued to be heavily linked with. Several periodicals/websites yesterday reported that he was part of a £65m double swoop with Hazard, that Chelsea are planning in the short term. Can you imagine if did sign in the coming weeks? Then when the transfer window opens after the Euros – what an unveiling that would be!
One other interesting aspect to this transfer is the way it adds to the contingent of top young Belgian players we have at the club, with Hazard joining Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne and Thibaut Courtois at Chelsea. If I was a Belgian football fan at the moment, I would be very excited. As well as those four massive prospects, the national team consists of Premier League superstars Vincent Kompany and Thomas Vermaelen in defence – along with the brilliant Jan Vertonghen. In the middle they have Steven Defour, Marouane Fellaini, Benfica’s Axel Witsel as well as the possibly Manchester Utd bound, Moussa Dembele. Their key front man, Kevin Miralles also recently top-scored the Greek Super League in his second season with Olympiacos. Under good management this group could become a major force in international football, and if the core of it is developed and then utilised by Chelsea, then that can only be a good thing.
To summarise, this is a fantastic piece of news for Chelsea, already I’m tipping Hazard to be a great player for a long time in our colours, good luck to him . Personally only the signing of Fernando Torres 18 months ago can compare in terms of excitement levels. In spite of the Euphoria that came with the news he’d pick us however, the highlight of the day yesterday came in the morning just after Hazard had revealed he’d made his decision. I was tapping away desperately at my phone, trying to find some reports/interviews/articles that would provide any enlightenment. I noticed a friend of mine watching me get all excited and I asked him, “You think I’m a bit pathetic, don’t you”? He actually told me that he was “jealous of me”, jealous that I could be so happy about something that bore no direct relevance to my life at all. I realised that exactly there in the lies the source of joy of being a football and Chelsea fan. The happiness we invest in our club is generally, as a rule, fully repaid and then some, and yesterday was the perfect example.
Eden Hazard, welcome to Chelsea. KTBFFH.