Mata, Hazard

For those who thought that Eden Hazard is going to be the next Lionel Messi, his debut season might be considered a disappointment. Chelsea with Hazard hasn’t been able to challenge for the league title, but a strong finish, along with the team’s number one player, Juan Mata, which means a spot in the top 4 and winning the Europa League, will cast a very different light on his first season in the Premier League.

In any case, it’s hard to consider his first season coming from Lille and the French League, where he was the undoubted star, to Chelsea, a team with quite a few players who might consider themselves to be better than him. Hazard started strong but faded as Chelsea moved to the three-starlets tactics, but has seen good days again nearing the end of the season, before an injury slowed him down again, and might keep him from playing against Spurs in the crucial midweek league match.

Hazard also had his incident with the Swansea ball boy, which gave us a new breed – diving ball boys, who do anything for their club, even fake an injury. It got him suspended for three matches. But he has impressed. You don’t score nine goals and add nine assists without impressing. He’s been the Joker to Juan Mata’s consistency, and a healthy Hazard might mean the difference between settling their Champions League business in the next match already, while an absent one or an injured one could mean a dire fight after the money till the end of the season.

In any case, along with Oscar and David Luiz, this is the future of the club. Three players who play the same position and have learned this season how to make adjustments for each other, which is also something the next manager (Jose Mourinho?) might have to learn how to handle and balance, especially looking at his history of using a limited amount of creative players in his lineup. Luiz is out of that contest, but looks like the centre back for years to come, unless a better offer comes calling at some point.

Hazard isn’t a huge success, but it’s hard to call his first season in England a disappointment. Often used out of position, taking a second place to Mata’s leading role, which probably isn’t going to change anytime soon, takes time to adjust to. A strong finish might mean Hazard is ready to become so much more, along with the team once again challenging for the important titles.

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