Chelsea's Champions League triumph in 2012 brought more than a shiny trophy to London; it also helped one of Europe's most coveted young talents decide where his future lay. Eden Hazard's infamous tweet confirmed that the Blues had met the £32.5 million asking price for the Belgian winger, who had spent the past four seasons tearing up Ligue 1 with Lille.
I'm signing for the champion's league winner.— Eden hazard (@hazardeden10) May 28, 2012
Although his first season at Stamford Bridge did not go according to plan, a return of 14 goals and 20 assists, per ESPN stats, as well as the Europa League trophy represented a decent debut year in Europe's most competitive league.
Jose Mourinho's arrival last summer signalled a change in fortunes for the youngster. In true Special One style, he nailed his colours to the mast early on by stating that he would turn Hazard into one of the best players in the world. He told the Daily Mail in August:
I want more responsibility and more ambition. When you are a normal player you have to be happy if you perform OK, when you have actions during the game that show quality. But when you are a top talent you can’t waste that talent, when somebody gives you that talent. I think at this talent level he is somebody very above us.
I want to give him that responsibility and ambition, for the kid to be better and better and to express himself on the pitch match after match. Don’t be up and down but to always be at the top of his game because he has the conditions to be a top player.
This is what I want, whether I can get it I don’t know but he is working very, very hard. I’m very happy with the kid.
The 23-year-old has risen to the challenge, and the transformation in his attitude and work rate have been startling.
He has beaten his goal tally from last year with 17 and counting, completed 149 dribbles compared to last season’s 102, and his total of 93 key passes so far this season is already one better than his total from his debut season. He has also continued his 100 percent career record from the penalty spot in the league, with six of his 15 converted penalties having come during his time at Chelsea.
This rapid progress has led to Hazard being linked with several of Europe's top clubs. Although Mourinho clearly considers him as a key player in his squad for the future and, according to The Metro, is prepared to offer him an improved contract to stave off interest, it would be prudent to have a price in mind in case a sale becomes necessary.
Transfermarkt value Hazard at £39.5 million, £7 million more than Chelsea paid for him. However, his actual market value is likely to be far higher.
"Potential" has seen ridiculous prices paid for players who are yet to hit their prime. The £25 million that Manchester United stumped up for an 18-year-old Wayne Rooney and the Neymar-Barcelona transfer saga prove that potential, while not a tangible, measurable quality like goals and assists, is a key factor in a player’s valuation.
On current form, and with his age and development factored into the price, Chelsea should not be listening to any offers below £60 million for Hazard. He is already being mentioned in the same breath as Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi in terms of talent and if he continues to improve at this rate, he could quickly become the most expensive player in Premier League history.
Statistics via WhoScored unless otherwise noted.