Eden Hazard: decisions to make?
The future is at Eden Hazard's feet. Chelsea's Belgian wizard has recently overtaken Gianfranco Zola in total goal contributions for Chelsea. Only Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard still surpass him. There is no questioning Hazard's immense impact on the London club. As rumours inevitably swirl around his dwindling contract, the diminutive star has some big decisions to make.
The obvious elephant in the room is Real Madrid. It is well documented Los Blancos have been after the Belgian for some time. Considering Hazard turned 27 only a month ago, you'd think now is that time. He is entering his prime. There must be temptation to join Zinedine Zidane's side, to take his career as far as he possibly can.
Hazard has clearly had ample opportunity to showcase his talents on the biggest stages with the Blues, but you simply can't look past the turmoil suffered by Chelsea of late. At a consistently elite club--and there are few better than Madrid-- he may realise his full potential.
Merengue flavoured rumours are also engulfing Thibaut Courtois. Hazard has, tongue in cheek, intimated he will sign an extension when the keeper does. Is a Belgian exodus from Stamford Bridge on the horizon?
A more tangible allure than the Santiago Bernabeu is the Ballon d'Or. For a long time, Hazard has been touted as one of 'those' players who can compete with the very best. His technical ability is almost certainly in a bracket containing Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar. But while Hazard has had to battle to prove he belongs against notoriously tough-sitting Premier League defences, the other three display their wares in less arduous conditions.
No one would argue, on his best day, Hazard is the best player in England. Those days come less frequently than twice per week, however. Perhaps Chelsea's most technically gifted player would put himself in a better light by leaving these shores.
At 27, it's also likely there is only one big contract remaining in his career. That could induce Hazard to remain at the club where he is the superstar. Time and time again he proves he is far from a glory hunter, simply loving to play football and win. Antonio Conte currently has the best win rate in Premier League history, despite back-to-back losses against Watford and Bournemouth. That would not be the case were his talisman not racking up impressive statistic despite his selfless nature.
The Belgian's father once commented his son would have had a far better chance at the Ballon D'or if he was more driven by personal success. To an extent, this is evident when he lets loose. Eden loves to dribble and create. He would certainly boast better stats if he was more selfish. But what would that cost in terms of his club and trophies?
In any case, the future is only bright for Eden Hazard. Barring injury, the magical play-maker will continue to shine, entertaining fans who pay to see him ply his trade. Whether it happens in Blanco or Blue is anyone's guess.