Roy Keane has slammed Eden Hazard for swapping shirts with Angel Di Maria at half-time in Chelsea's 2-1 defeat to Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday, while Blues interim boss Guus Hiddink said the Stamford Bridge faithful "have the right to boo" him.
Per the Daily Mail's Sami Mokbel, ITV pundit Keane said:
I’m afraid to comment on this. It’s bad enough at the end of the game. Half-time in a big game.
What has to be going through a player’s mindset in such a big game? You’re thinking about swapping jerseys at half-time? I wouldn’t even bother swapping shirts at the end of the game? At half-time? Shocking.
According to Mokbel, Hiddink said of Hazard receiving jeers from the home crowd upon being substituted: "They have the right to boo whatever they think. One can always express what they are feeling."
He also said he was "aware" of the shirt-swapping at half-time, adding: "I haven't seen it, but I'm aware of it. I’m not saying I'm unaware. That'd be too easy, just to say I didn't see it. Yeah, it should not be done, but in some countries it's usual you do it, and not after the game."
Per John Cross of the Daily Mirror, he dismissed the significance of the matter: "It’s not a big issue for me or for them. In other countries they swap shirts at half-time rather than afterwards as it can leave them half naked on the pitch with their beautiful paintings [tattoos]. I don’t think it’s a big issue. I don’t think it was done with any bad intentions."
BT Sport captured the footage of Hazard and Di Maria at half-time:
BT Sport Football @btsportfootball
.@hazardeden10 caught swapping shirts with Di Maria at half-time... #UCL #PSGCHE https://t.co/Qe8waEnVWT2016-3-9 21:32:27
Save for some impressive displays of quick feet and a shot that PSG goalkeeper Kevin Trapp dealt with fairly comfortably, the Belgian produced another mostly ineffectual display and failed to inspire his team to victory.
As James Olley of the London Evening Standard noted, Hazard was then booed by some of his own supporters upon being substituted due to injury:
James Olley @JamesOlley
A smattering of boos from #cfc fans as Hazard limps off here and goes down the tunnel. No high-fives. Maybe they aren't obligatory.2016-3-9 21:18:45
The 25-year-old's torrid season continued with BT Sport Football capturing his lengthy goal drought in the Champions League:
BT Sport Football @btsportfootball
The drought continues for @hazardeden10... #UCL #CHEPSG https://t.co/TEfYf3kcAj2016-3-9 21:24:12
Keane's fellow pundit, Lee Dixon, believes swapping shirts so early was indicative that Hazard's future does not lie with Chelsea.
Per Mokbel, he said: "If you’re going to do that, do it down the tunnel where no one can see. Doing it on the pitch? What does that say? That says to me that Hazard is getting a little collection before he leaves and goes somewhere else."
The Daily Mirror's Darren Lewis and ESPN FC's Alex Shaw would seemingly agree with him:
Alex Shaw @AlexShawESPN
Hazard has played like a man whose mind is elsewhere for 95% of the season.2016-3-9 21:19:17
ITV news presenter Mark Austin had his own take on it:
Mark Austin @markaustintv
The most baffling part of the #Hazard #Di Maria half time shirt swap is why on earth Di Maria wanted it in the first place.2016-3-9 22:05:29
As it so often is, Hiddink's candour on the matter was refreshing, though it may hold more significance for Chelsea supporters than he anticipates given Hazard's almost year-long run of poor form.
Patience with the playmaker at Stamford Bridge already appears to be wearing thin, and this will have done him no favours in winning back the support of the home crowd.