Going Inside The Mind Of Chelsea's Eden Hazard - Should He Stay Or Should He Go?


If you were Eden Hazard, what would you be thinking right now?

Let's assume Chelsea don't one-inch punch their way out of the dirt for a top-four finish, or win the Champions League (21.00 is worth a fiver if you ask me). Let's also assume they don't get relegated, because that would be the most stomach-shuddering comedown in the history of English football.

The most likely outcome for Hazard is the brilliant team he starred for last season finishes in relative mediocrity. Europa League territory if they're lucky. Just below that it if they're not (and let's face it, they're not being very lucky right now - Remy, stonewall penalty, no further discussion).

So that's Chelsea, defending champions and gluttonous buyers of world-class players, reduced to achieving the aims of a middling team like Stoke, the team who can't stop beating them right now.

Hazard's agent, assuming he's a self-respecting agent, will be getting increasingly twitchy. We're already seeing story upon story linking his player to PSG, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United and Manchester City. Phones will be ringing. Lunch meetings will be had.

FBL-EUR-C1-CHELSEA-TRAINING : News Photo

Meanwhile back at Chelsea, Hazard has been cast as Jose Mourinho's scapegoat with shrugged shoulders. The reigning player of the year is being savaged on a weekly basis by the critics for his perceived failure to repeat last season's blockbuster form.

Remember when Hazard was the most entertaining player in the world's most entertaining league? It was only seven months ago.

This season, Opta stats have Hazard showing a noticeable drop on his numbers from last. He's shooting less often, with less accuracy and creating less chances. The headline number is the one that says he still hasn't scored in this campaign.

Is the poor boy not allowed a dip in form? Not with the stats brigade on his watch he's not. And not with the fate of Mourinho's crumbling Chelsea empire resting on his ability to spark it up in the final third.

Hazard has not suddenly become rubbish. In fact there were more than a few glimpses of his fleet-footed genius in Chelsea's defeat against Stoke (the second one, not the Capital One Cup where he missed a penalty). 

FBL-ASIA-AUS-ENG-PR-CHELSEA : News Photo

His runs were intelligent, his ball control impressive. The explosive bursts were happening all over the Potteries, but for whatever reason they didn't result in goals. The champagne is still there, it's just not flowing that well.

Has he stopped trying? Not on the evidence of that game. Hazard was noticeably among Chelsea's most earnest triers as they sought to salvage a result at the Britannia on Saturday. He was practically James Milner in a Chelsea shirt for the last throes of that one.

But still he couldn't score, couldn't provide an assist. Hazard couldn't make it happen. The frustration must be growing inside him and also the feeling that the stage he enjoyed so much last season is getting smaller and smaller with his every performance.

The transfer rumours will continue to gather pace. Hazard, as Chelsea's most marquee name and their highest paid player, will be portrayed by the media as a man who wants out. The club will be portrayed as wanting a fresh start.

Should he stay or should he go?

The case for him staying is a simple one. If Hazard remains at Chelsea he will demonstrate a strength of character and resolve some think is lacking. For that to happen, there needs to be a part of him that sees the experience of the struggle as a tool for making him a better player, and even a better person.

That's what's on offer if he stays. We can make the argument Hazard would grow more at Chelsea than elsewhere, because Chelsea is where the challenge is right now.

Chelsea Press Conference : News Photo

Whether it's Mourinho or the next Chelsea manager, Hazard has a wonderful chance to evolve through this current malaise and emerge at the Euros as the player we know he can be. With added mental strength he can launch into that tournament with a point to prove and return next season as a firestarter again.

Or he could take the cash and go and live somewhere the sun shines.

The biggest argument for Hazard leaving Chelsea is that fresh pastures might free his talent. If Mourinho's tactics have shackled him, then playing to the spirit of Barcelona might achieve the opposite. We should be wary here though that no system is without it's work requirement in the modern game.

But for some players a new home is what's required to stop the rot. Take Angel Di Maria as the perfect example. He couldn't control a throw-in at Manchester United and now he's threatening to out-shine Zlatan at PSG and lead them all the way to European glory.

It's a risk to leave, but if it comes off like that you've made the right decision.

Over to you Eden. A decision looms large and it's a big one.

Don't let the fans or the media make it for you.

 

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