Another day, another rumor of Eden Hazard’s return to Chelsea.
It’s hardly a surprise to see the Belgian linked with a move from Real Madrid after leaving in 2019.
Every time Hazard’s name reappears, Chelsea’s social media is sent into a frenzy of debate. Would a return be good? Would that be bad? Does that make any sense?
Regardless of how accurate these recent links are, that’s beside the point.
The concept of a Hazard return, and the clamor for it to become a reality, is probably the icing on the cake of a failed £300m+ recruitment drive.
Replacing Hazard’s inspiration was never going to be easy for Chelsea.
The confidence in his shoulders was most demonstrated by the Blues’ attacking numbers in his final season.
Via Opta and Squawka, a chart that lists the Premier League stats leaders for the top six teams during the 2018/19 season. He had Hazard leading in five.
Most assists, most catches, most fouls won, most chances created and most duels won.
His latest act underscored that undeniable influence the most in a Chelsea shirt. He dominated the Europa League final victory over Arsenal in Baku, scoring two goals and scoring one of Chelsea’s four goals on the night.
It was the best complete stoppage of a glorious eight-year spell in west London where Hazard became one of the most talented players Chelsea fans have ever seen.
The affection for Hazard is eternal. His best moments are regularly shared and replayed.
The solo run against Arsenal in 2017, the superb left-footed curler against Spurs in 2016, the barnstorming display at the Stadium of Light in 2013, that one against West Ham, that one against United and Newcastle and Liverpool.
The list is lengthened increasingly. Watching Hazard play was like watching Roger Federer stroke a backhand at Wimbledon. He made the sport easy and enjoyable.
His laid-back demeanor was refreshing in a game that was getting extremely serious – obsessed with stats and a creeping sense of cynicism.
Stories of Hazard munching on burgers after games or playing Mario Kart minutes before kick-off gave this mundane talent a sense of relativity.
I miss watching Hazard play football. I miss the effortless run, the feeling of anticipation every time the ball lands at his feet on the left wing.
The sense of unparalleled expression and unpredictability that is lacking in much of Chelsea’s current attack.
But Hazard is now 31 and has struggled with a series of injuries since fulfilling his career dream of signing for Real Madrid.
Just one goal in Madrid’s 22 appearances says enough about the decline with less than 1000 minutes played for Carlo Ancelotti.
Madrid, who currently top La Liga by six points, are looking beyond their glamorous 2019 chant for inspiration.
Vinicius Junior, 21, is Los Blancos’ exciting prospect, 16 goals already this season from the left wing and will be one of the names Madrid will turn to next month to overturn a first leg deficit to PSG in the Champions League . League.
Hazard will likely remain on the bench, hoping for a brief appearance if needed.
Chelsea fans may be watching Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to Manchester United and thinking something similar could escalate. Not to mention Hazard’s weaknesses and the problems Ronaldo’s lack of pressure has brought to United’s attack.
Buying Hazard out would be an admission that the over £300m spent since 2019 has indeed been wasted.
It’s a dangerous kind of nostalgia that keeps ideas of courageous progression reserved and reactive short-term decision-making front and center.
There is a great irony in the case of sentiment towards Hazard. We must not let it go unnoticed that when club icon Frank Lampard was sacked in 2021, arguments were made that a ruthless club like Chelsea had no room for sentiment.
Acts of kindness, leaning too heavily on nostalgia and familiarity. There was no place for Frank but apparently there was for Eden?
Just like you, we can’t get enough of Chelsea! That’s why we decided to complete our extensive coverage of Chelsea on football.london with a more fan-oriented platform, specially designed for Chelsea fans – CareFreeChelsea.
Writers and presenters who share your passion for the Blues will produce written, visual and audio content to reflect the mood in the stands as well as the press box.
And don’t forget to subscribe to our CareFreeChelsea YouTube Channel for regular team videos, as well as specials and every Thomas Tuchel press conference.
You can also sign up for our daily CareFreeChelsea newsletter to read all of our top stories every day.
And what happens when he’s not the Hazard we remember? Who to blame? The player whose career clearly peaked three years ago, or the Chelsea decision-makers who could invest wisely in young talent?
The most consistent joy after Hazard has come from the new faces emerging from the club’s academy. Mason Mount, Reece James, Tammy Abraham, Fikayo Tomori, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Billy Gilmour, Trevoh Chalobah.
Although not all of them are at the club yet, they have quickly given supporters a new form of expression to cling to. The type that can be relied on for the long term, rather than fading quickly.
Hazard’s Chelsea story ended in Baku, as it should. We should keep it that way.
To use nostalgia as a way around Chelsea’s recent recruitment failures would be foolish.
Make sure you are subscribed to CareFreeChelsea on YouTube! The Fan Brands team along with many football.london favorites will be producing daily Chelsea content for you to enjoy, including match reactions, podcasts, football fun and interviews. you can follow Daniel Childs from the CareFreeChelsea team to keep up to date with their work. If you enjoyed reading this, read my other articles below.