CaughtOffside’s Top 50 Footballers In The World: # 26 – Eden Hazard (Chelsea & Belgium)

Chelsea and Belgium attacking midfielder Eden Hazard.

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Eden Hazard has been one of the world’s most talked about young players for some time, ever since making his first-team breakthrough with French side Lille in 2008, and his big move to Chelsea last summer has seen him firmly establish himself on the big stage.

Still only 22, Hazard has won the Ligue 1 title with Lille, and the Europa League with Chelsea in his first season at Stamford Bridge. He also has 35 caps for the Belgium national side, scoring five goals. From a young age he has been compared with the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, and has set himself the target of scoring 60 goals for Chelsea next season, replicating the incredible numbers of the Barcelona and Real Madrid stars.

Though even with a mere 13 goals and 14 assists for the Blues this year, he’s doing a pretty good job. Some had their doubts over whether Hazard would adapt to the physicality of English football, but he quickly proved those doubters wrong with a flying start to life in the Premier League. The £27million signing produced man-of-the-match displays with one goal and five assists in his first three games for the club.

Eden Hazard Chelsea Reading

Although occasionally inconsistent, this is forgiveable due to his relative inexperience, and he will certainly have gone down as a success in his first season with Chelsea, looking a class act in their attacking midfield three alongside the likes of Juan Mata and Oscar, and scoring a goal-of-the-season contender with a superb long-range left-footed strike away to Stoke City.

One low point came in Chelsea’s Capital One Cup semi-final second leg with Swansea, when Hazard was sent off for kicking a ball boy. His attitude problems have at times been a dampener on his fine talent, but he still has plenty of promise even if he is prone to occasional moments of madness, which has been true of many of the game’s greats.

Big-spending Monaco are said to be keen on luring Hazard back to France this summer, but despite the understandable demand for his signature, he should remain in the Premier League and continue along the path to stardom. Hazard is a player that is sure to achieve many more great things if he can find continuity and play alongside other world class talents in the best league in the world.

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