A year ago, Chelsea was on its way to winning the Premier League and a big part of the reason why was Eden Hazard.
The Belgian international scored 14 goals and tallied nine assists for the Blues last season, helping manager Jose Mourinho lead the London giants to the title while losing just three league matches along the way.
Unfortunately for all involved, the bottom has fallen out this season.
Chelsea had an awful start to the 2015-2016 season, picking up just 11 points in its first 12 matches. Mourinho was sent packing in mid-December, and the club is currently in 14th place (pending a match with Watford later today).
There are many reasons for Chelsea’s decline this season. An aging defense, a lack of goals from its strikers and, perhaps most important of all, the mysterious decline of Hazard.
The winger has 17 EPL appearances this season and has no goals and two assists. His lone tally for Chelsea this season came in a FA Cup match recently against MK Dons.
That’s quite a drop from the chatter that swirled around the talented young player last season.
“Last season, yes (Hazard was better than Ronaldo),” Mourinho said in July. “In spite of the fact that Ronaldo was fantastic. He was fantastic. He scored an incredible number of goals.”
To his credit, the player himself knows the situation.
“It’s obvious. You don’t need to know too much about football to compare what I did last season and what I did this season. I’m not as good,” he told ESPN earlier this season.
At 25 years old, Hazard has not yet entered his prime. But I think his days at Chelsea are numbered.
With the Blues likely not competing in Europe next season, and the entire roster in need of an overhaul, it’s going to be tough for the club to keep him.
Especially with Real Madrid rumored to be interested.
“It’s not up to me — it’s up to the club,” Chelsea interim manager Guus Hiddink said. “My advice to Eden is he could be a Chelsea great for years to come — but he could leave in the summer.
“He’s of big value to Chelsea — a very important player, a nice player. But he’s been struggling with injuries for a while now.”
Personally, I think Hazard would be a far better fit in La Liga, a less physical and less defensively demanding league.
He’s too good a player to keep having the sort of season he’s having, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see him have a better spring for Chelsea. Then, he’ll have the chance to put up a nice showing at Euro 2016 before making a big money move to either Real Madrid or perhaps PSG.