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Eden Hazard: Is He Delivering Value on Chelsea's £32 Million Investment?

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 09:  Eden Hazard of Chelsea in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Wigan Athletic at Stamford Bridge on February 9, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Rowanne WesthenryFeatured ColumnistFebruary 20, 2013

Eden Hazard was one of the hottest transfer targets in the summer 2012 window. Attracting attention from Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal and Paris Saint-Germain among others, it was a former Blues player who helped to persuade him to join Chelsea.

Having scored 20 goals and assisted 15 others in 38 appearances for Lille in France's Ligue 1, the 22-year-old was impressed with Joe Cole's tales of his time at the club and their Champions League victory helped sway his decision towards the Blues.

The weight of such a large transfer fee has hung heavy in the minds of previous marquee signings at Stamford Bridge but Hazard doesn't seems to feel the same pressure on his performances. He has already scored seven Premier League goals and assisted seven more, a better attacking record than Fernando Torres, who has started 23 games to Hazard's 22.

Despite only joining the club in May 2012, Hazard has developed an excellent partnership with fellow attacking midfielder Juan Mata. The pair have combined to create 16 goals, scoring 17 and creating 19 clear-cut chances for teammates.

Considering the fact that Mata was on international duty for Spain during Chelsea's preseason tour of the USA, the fact that the pair have linked up so well is astonishing.

Hazard's passes have found their man 85 percent of the time, but it is his movement with the ball that impresses the most. With 39 successful dribbles and 56 fouls won, he causes problems for opposition defences that have resulted in two converted penalties in the Premier League, as well as numerous other set pieces.

He does have a tendency to go missing against the bigger clubs. In the two games played against Arsenal, he created one chance, compared to six chances created in the matches against Norwich City and Reading at Stamford Bridge.

Like fellow midfielder Oscar, he drifts out of games for extended periods before popping up with a key pass when it is needed.

Hazard has had to accept that joining the European champions has not been the dream move that he thought it would be. With the managerial upheaval and the disappointing exit from this year's Champions League, you could forgive him for questioning whether he made the right choice.

However he has dealt with the situation as you would hope a professional would, and his reaction to the time-wasting ballboy at Swansea City shows that he has a passionate desire to help Chelsea succeed.

His contract runs until 2017, giving him plenty of time to continue to impress, and if he continues to improve on his performances so far, he will become the best big-money investment that Roman Abramovich has made.

All stats are via EPLindex.com

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