Chelsea FC: Why Eden Hazard Is Most Important to the Blues' Success Next Year
I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
—George Benson, "Greatest Love Of All"
On a team like Chelsea, with so much talent and potential, it's really hard to peg just one player who needs to have a breakout season.
But for me, that guy on the Blues would have to be Eden Hazard.
Now, granted, being second on the club in goals (12) and assists (11) in English Premier League play and being a candidate for PFA Player of the Year is certainly nothing to sneeze at. But for Chelsea to make a run at the EPL title and make some noise in the UEFA Champions League, Hazard will have to evolve even more.
And asking the 22-year-old attacking midfielder to try to become a 20/20 guy in the league this season may sound like a lot, but when you're dubbed "The Belgian Messi," and have the kind of otherworldly talent Hazard does, that is definitely not a stretch.
In a recent story in the Daily Mail, Hazard said he would be "going for the kill" in England's top flight this coming season, with visions of shattering the Premier League goal-scoring record under new Blues manager José Mourinho.
"'My dream is 50 or even 60 goals like [Lionel] Messi and [Cristiano] Ronaldo," Hazard said. "They have shown it is possible, so maybe I can do the same."
Oh you silly, silly kids. At least you got the "maybe" part right, Eden.
"I had a lot of assists last season and a few goals, but the problem is that I tend to choose the beautiful option too often and dribble with the ball, when a different way might cause more damage," he continued.
"Sometimes I lack the killer instinct, but I mean to change that. I need to shoot more, rather than look to do something that looks nice, and that is what I will be trying to do next season."
Now you're talking brother. "Shoot more." Sounds good to me. Now just do it. Get down with your bad Belgian self.
With footwork that would make a ballet dancer jealous and the speed of a baby gazelle, Hazard could probably create a decent shot in an oil barrel. And his potential to become one of the sport's great passers is immense.
Signed by Chelsea last summer for £32 million from Lille in France's Ligue 1, Hazard will have a number of solid scoring threats to feed in Fernando Torres, Romelu Lukaku, Demba Ba, Juan Mata, Oscar, Kevin de Bruyne, Frank Lampard, Victor Moses and André Schürrle, depending on who ends up on the club's first-team roster at the end of this summer transfer period.
And who better to bring the absolute best out of Hazard than the self-anointed "Special One"?
"He's a mystical coach, who is always being talked about," Hazard said of Mourinho in the Daily Mail story. "It will be a pleasure to have a coach like him, especially as everybody says it will be a very good thing for me."
Only time will tell, but a player as versatile as Hazard teaming up with a manager as open-minded and creative as Mourinho seems like a recipe for success at Stamford Bridge from this distance.
With Mourinho finally back in West London—news for those who spent their springs vacationing on the surface of Venus—Petr Čech in goal, the team two-deep at every position on defense, at least three strikers to work with and an attacking midfield as rich as Bill Gates, Hazard could now become the new straw that stirs the drink at Chelsea.
Besides taking more shots of his own, Hazard, whose little brother Thorgan (20) is also with the Blues, can also create additional attempts for, Mata who has been Chelsea's playmaker since arriving from Valencia in 2011.
For the Blues to live up to the hype as well as their potential and be as successful as their fans expect them to be this coming year, in my opinion, Hazard will have to emerge as the team's superstar.
And he certainly has the tools and confidence now to do just that.
"'Every year, I am improving and getting better and better, but I want to be even more effective."
Sounds good to me. We're all pulling for you, kid.
Follow me on Twitter: @KevinStott11
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