Chelsea winger Eden Hazard opens up ahead of Real Madrid move and Europa League final against Arsenal as he vows never to play for another English club. admitting he has grown up during his time at the club.
On Wednesday evening in Baku against Arsenal, Hazard will likely play for the final time in a Chelsea shirt. Chelsea will miss him and, in truth, we all will.
Here is a player who has been in the PFA Team of the Year four times and twice led his side to the Premier League title. When the mood takes Hazard, he is utterly devastating.
The shimmies, the low centre of gravity, the Velcro close control, the zig-zag slaloms and the clinical finishes have become staples of the Premier League. Quite simply, the best of Hazard is the best of any player in Europe.
Little wonder, therefore, that Real Madrid has prioritised his signature and, now 28, Hazard feels the move is essential. Chelsea will strike a hard bargain but, ultimately, expect their most gifted player to depart.
He is not prepared to sign fresh terms at Stamford Bridge and the club cannot turn down figures approaching £100million for a player who would leave for nothing in 12 months’ time. In such circumstances, many players would shun questions. To his credit, Hazard takes his job seriously but does not take himself too seriously.
In a curious quirk, Dortmund has signed Hazard’s brother Thorgan as a replacement for Chelsea’s new addition, Christian Pulisic. Is it fair, therefore, to suggest that Pulisic is the man replacing Hazard at Chelsea?
‘That’s possible,’ Hazard nods. ‘We will see. It’s in the hands of the clubs. But there’s a lovely match to play. It’s not in my head right now: I stay, I go…‘
There is, however, a warning. Should Chelsea compel Hazard to stay and see out his contract, will he show patience?
‘I don’t know,’ he says. ‘That’s a difficult one to answer. A year is long, no?’
In Baku, Hazard is concentrating on his Chelsea legacy. His last kick at Stamford Bridge may turn out to be the winning penalty in the Europa League semi-final victory over Eintracht Frankfurt and his final game may end in silverware. The perfect farewell?
‘Yes,’ he says. ‘I just want to win the trophy. It does not matter if I score or not.
‘Of course I can put aside (the speculation). How long do you know me now? You know how I am. I stay in that mode: thinking about football. After the final we see what happens.’
As Hazard weaves away from the future, nostalgia takes him down memory lane.
‘When I came here I was a baby,’ he says. ‘Now I am a big man. As a person, I didn’t change. As a player, I score more goals and I have more experience. But I try to be the same as when I start.’
It is seven years since Hazard signed for Chelsea in a £32m transfer from Lille. He was then just 21 but he recalls clearly the stomping of Premier League feet as the top clubs vying for his talents.
Wednesday’s opponents Arsenal made a move and Arsene Wenger even hosted Hazard’s agent at his family home. ‘Yes, they were talking together,’ Hazard says.
‘But not like with Chelsea. I had a chance to sign for Manchester United, Manchester City, Tottenham, but I think I made the right decision.
‘I spoke with the owner, with (then Chelsea boss) Roberto Di Matteo. I had Didier Drogba on the phone and Joe Cole (Hazard’s team-mate at Lille) told me it was the best club.
‘I was a bit scared as when I came, Didier left and when you have Didier in the team, for sure you win a trophy.
‘But at the end I played with top players. And if you look at my seven years at Chelsea we did something amazing together. We won trophies.’
Hazard has played under six Chelsea managers, from Di Matteo to Maurizio Sarri. His most successful, but also his most fractious, periods came under Antonio Conte and Jose Mourinho. When Mourinho left amid dreadful form, Hazard sent him an apologetic message.
Reflecting now, he considers his first title under the Portuguese, in 2015, his happiest period at Chelsea.
‘The way I was playing for me was the best,’ he says. ‘I was more consistent. I look at the statistics as you, the media, ask me all the time.
‘When we watch the TV it says: “Eden Hazard scored this…” but I don’t really care. I just want to enjoy myself on the pitch.
‘The best example is with Belgium. I played my best game against Brazil at the World Cup (last year) and I didn’t score or assist. That is what I like to do.
‘I don’t think about scoring goals or assists. I just want to do my best.’
For Hazard and Chelsea, this has been a peculiar season. He notes it has been his best season with the Blues for goals and assists, with 19 and 16 respectively.
But he did not score in his final nine appearances and Chelsea’s campaign dramatically derailed at certain moments.
‘For me, a good season is not whether I scored 40 goals. I want to win something at the end of the season. I don’t think it is my best season to be fair.’
Asked to identify why Chelsea finished 26 points behind champions Manchester City, Hazard’s analysis is enlightening.
He suggests Chelsea’s squad lacks the depth of their rivals, which does not bode well with a potential summer transfer ban.
‘I don’t think there is only one problem. When you look at the starting 11 of City they can play with 22 players. When you look at Chelsea I think we can’t play with 22 players.
‘It has been a 50-50 season. Sometimes happy, sometimes not. We finished in the top three, Carabao Cup final and now Europa League. If we win it, the season can be good. Not perfect, because you want to compete for the league and FA Cup.
‘Liverpool and City did not change the manager in the summer, we changed the manager. Sometimes you need time to adapt. But we can reach that level, we have the players and we just need to train together, we play together, lose together.’
While a transfer to Madrid is in the balance, Hazard’s loyalty to Chelsea is unyielding. Would he consider a move to a Premier League club?
‘No chance,’ he says. ‘I am a blue! It means a lot to me. I cannot play for another club in the country.
‘That’s why we have to win the Europa League. Otherwise, everybody will have to hear (from Arsenal): ‘We have won, we have won’. For the fans it’s important. For the players it’s important. For the coach it’s important. We are confident.
‘You feel that there’s something at stake. Our season hasn’t been top-top, but finishing it with a European trophy will be good.’
3 Premier League Flops Who Made It Big Elsewhere
The English Premier League has welcomed some of the best players in the history of football. Players from different continents have made a huge impact on the league with impressive performances. There are others who failed to impress and can be termed as flops.
The League is quite unique from other European leagues. It is more competitive, fierce, physically challenging in nature. Needless to say, a player who isn’t mentally and physically geared up for this will stumble under the pressure.
Established stars can fall by the wayside with their former successes and triumphs becoming nothing more than a footnote in the EPL. Impressively, some of these players put in impressive performances when they moved to other leagues.
3 Premier League Flops Who Made It Big In Other Leagues
Following the impending sale of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid, Tottenham bought several players, one of the players they bought was Paulinho.
Paulinho was signed from Corinthians in Brazil where he helped them win the Copa Libertadores, Brasileirao, and the FIFA Club World Cup.
They defeated Chelsea in the latter to lift the trophy. Importantly, he had just won the FIFA Confederations Cup with Brazil and was voted as the third-best player at the tournament.
He joined Tottenham as the club’s record signing in 2013, so a lot was expected of him. However, his performance was not as impressive as the club had envisaged. He was later sold to Guangzhou Evergrande in China at a loss.
The Brazilian’s transfer to the Chinese league resulted in a change of fortunes, as helped the club claim the Chinese league and the AFC Champions League title in his first season.
In the second, he was voted into the Chinese League team of the year in recognition of his performance. Also, he won the league, FA Cup, and Super Cup.
Although critics downplayed his performance, citing the standard of the Chinese league compared to the English league, Paulinho impressed in Spain too following a €40 million move to Barcelona.
Paulinho helped the club claim the league and the Copa del Rey trophy. His performance in his only season with Barcelona impressed Ronaldinho who said: “He really stood out.”
- Iago Aspas
Most Premier League fan remembers Aspas only as a Liverpool flop with the number 9 jersey. Aspas moved from boyhood club Celta Vigo to Liverpool for a deal estimated to be around £7.7 m, with Liverpool hoping to have unearthed a gem. However, that gem turns dregs, failing to score in any of his 14 league appearances.
After just one season, Liverpool decided that they have seen enough so they sent him on a season-long loan to Sevilla with an obligation to buy. In his season-long loan at the club, he was the joint top scorer in the Copa del Rey alongside Neymar with 7 goals and won the UEFA Europa League.
At the end of his season-long loan at Sevilla, the club signed him from Liverpool but sold him to Celta Vigo in the same transfer window. In every of his first 5 seasons at Celta Vigo, he scored in double digits.
In fact, in three of the 5 seasons, he won the Zarra Trophy awarded to the Spanish player with the most league goals in a season. As of December 2020, Aspas had won La Liga player of the month four times.
- Diego Forlan
Perhaps, the most notable and interesting English Premier League flop who became a star in another League. He was not just impressive in another league; he was extraordinary with his National team Uruguay.
Sir Alex Ferguson signed Forlan in 2001 following the attacker’s impressive form at Independiente in Argentina. In his first season in England, Forlan made 18 appearances but failed to score a single goal. The two seasons after were not impressive either, hence his transfer to Villarreal.
Impressively, Forlan scored 25 league goals in his first season with Villarreal and won the league’s top scorers award (2004/05). Also, he was awarded the European Golden Shoe award alongside Thierry Henry the same year. He left the club two seasons later for Atletico with 59 goals scored in 128 matches.
In his second season with Atletico Madrid (2008/09), Forlan beat Samuel Eto’o to the Spanish league’s top scorer’s award. He scored 32 league goals in 33 league appearances that season which earned him the Pichichi trophy. Again, he won the European Golden Shoe but this time it was not shared with anyone.
The next season (2009/10), Forlan played a key role as Atletico won the Europa League. He scored six times in the tournament, including two in the 2-1 win over Fulham in the final. He was voted as the man of the match in the final.
With his national team, he was just as impressive; he scored the most goals at the 2010 FIFA World Cup alongside Thomas Muller, Wesley Sneijder, and David Villa.
Furthermore, he was voted into the FIFA World Cup dream team and won the Golden Ball and goal of the tournament title. By the time he retired, he was Uruguay’s highest goal scorer in history, a record which has since been broken by Luis Suarez.
Forlan eventually became so good that some Football fans think he is the caliber of player that could have won the Ballon d’Or.
There are several reasons why players struggle when they change clubs, especially to other countries. Culture, language, teammates, family are some factors that can affect their performances.
These 3 cases show that a player may fail to perform in one league but go on to become a star in another league.
Top 10 Football Dribblers Of All Time
The beautiful game of football is arguably the only sport that entertains its fans with the opportunity to witness a genuine instance of sheer genius with a series of beautiful nutmegs. The display of skills, footwork, eye-catching dribbles by different players makes the game more entertaining.
A lot of players around the world can dribble, go past a defender with a single flick and pace. However, good dribblers can be considered as one of the most important key players of a team, as they can unlock any kind of defense.
There are tons of Football dribblers, but only the best have made it onto the CheapGoals list.
10. Roberto Rivelino
Rivelino’s magic with the ball was unbelievable, doing things nobody ever has or will do on a football pitch, and also had a quality of certainty about himself when he was on the ball.
He would not only wind past his opponents but also mortify them and smash defenders’ confidence. Sudden speeding up, various body bluffs would see him outfox defenders on numerous occasions, as some would say Garrincha made the ball talk to his feet.
Other than being authoritatively one of the best footballers to ever graced the beautiful game and lived with three World Cup medals, this iconic Brazilian player was incredible at dribbling. Being able to control the ball in front of defenders and going past them with ease and confidence is something an aspiring footballer would dream of.
8. George Best
Undoubtedly one of England’s greatest players, having scored 137 goals in 361 appearances for Manchester United in a career that spread over more than a decade for the Red Devils. He had the confidence to make use of the ball within and outside of his boot so well that he could cut around players quickly and easily.
De Lima is known for dribbling past defenders and after that going ahead to score a goal. only a few players have aced the popular ‘step over’ dribble as Ronaldo always proved to be a match-winner time over time with his solo dribbles.
6. Johan Cruyff
One of Cruyff’s best abilities was that he had the ability to recognize any weakness and shortcoming in a defender. Like De-lima, he had a move named after him called “The Cruyff Turn”. It would appear as though he was passing the ball to a teammate but instead to kick the ball, he would turn 90 degrees and drag the ball within his foot behind his back leg. This sudden 90-degree move always left the opponent over to the cleaners.
Talking about football dribblers, Garrincha compared to Pele was generally viewed as the best dribbler ever. His extraordinary speed combined with his stunning ball control always leaves defenders powerless, and unfit to deal with his mesmerizing dribbles. At just 5ft 6inches Garrincha’s low center of gravity helped him weave around opponents effortlessly.
4. Diego Maradona
Maradona uses a style of dribbling called “Gambetta” in which he would use his body position to trick into going the wrong way.
Maradona is an impudent, supreme football dribbler – who uses his small stature to make an extraordinary impact which made him one of the best dribblers in football. His strength and control made it difficult to knock him off the ball.
Considered by many as a standout amongst one of the most skillful players in football, he was commended for his abilities and inventiveness. only if his prime had lasted longer, he may very well have been crowned with Ballon d’Or but Okocha is one of the best football dribblers. Be that as it may, it always a joy to watch the Nigerian dazzle on the football pitch.
The former PSG forward and Brazil legend came into the limelight amid his time with Barcelona scoring 70 goals in 145 caps for the club. Dinho brought his mesmerizing pattern of football from the streets of Brazil onto the world stage, and defenders couldn’t deal with his skills and frills.
Every little thing about him appeared to be so superb. From his sly bluffs to his sudden change in increasing speed, all that he did was accompanied by a smile all over his face. His most popular trick was ‘Snake Bite’ where he would trick defenders by pushing the ball sideways, however, all of a sudden pulling the ball back the other way. He is considered one of the best football dribblers.
Having for all intents and purposes wins everything minus a World Cup, the four-time Balon d’Or winner is magnificently unstoppable on his day. The Barcelona forward has scored lots of stunning goals, beating three, four, even five players before firing it in the back of the net.
Mathias Sindelar, Zinedine Zidane, Micheal Laudrup, Adama Toure, Magico Gonzalez, Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar Jr, Ariel Ortega, Eden Hazard,Dennis Bergkamp.
This is CheapGoal’s top 10 football dribblers, if any of our loving readers feel otherwise or have their preferred special list, pls don’t hesitate to drop and comment…