One to Watch - Eden Hazard
Name: Eden Hazard
Date of Birth: 7/1/1991
Former Clubs: Lille
League Appearances (Goals): 150 (37)
International Appearances (Goals): 30 (2)
Stat of the Day: Eden Hazard has scored all 10 of his penalty kicks in league football
Player Profile: Last season it was David Silva; this it is Eden Hazard. It is the turn of the 21-year-old to take the new Premier League season by storm and with an incredible six assists and one goal in his first three games, the Belgian is certainly proving to be money well spent. Had the Champions League penalty shootout gone the other way we may not have seen Hazard in the Premier League at all, let alone at Stamford Bridge, yet we find one of the most enviable foreign talents strutting his stuff at a near rivals. The 5ft 8 talent has already drawn comparisons with Chelsea legend Gianfranco Zola, and should Hazard continue to display such flair and verve in his performances, we could witness the development of a world great.
Premier League clubs are now searching high and low for their very own 'in-the-hole attacking midfielder` - the aforementioned Silva at City, Kagawa at Man Utd and Hazard now joins Juan Mata at Chelsea. The Belgian has been utilised in this role just behind Fernando Torres, subsequently bringing the Spaniard back to his best, and making Chelsea a more exciting outfit. Given licence to roam and entice defenders with his quick feet, it makes picking up the position of the midfielder incredibly hard and Hughes will hopefully have constructed a better plan to deal with Hazard than Martinez, McDermott or Pardew attempted. Should Diakite, albeit unlikely, make an appearance on Saturday a few kicks up in the air could potentially throw Hazard off his game, but ultimately a superior defensive and concentrated performance will be required to snuff out the danger Hazard possesses.
Eden Hazard was born in Belgium and began his career playing youth football for Belgian sides Royal Stade Brainois and AFC Tubize. It was here he was first spotted by Lille scouts and eventually moved to France in 2005 where he continued his impressive development in their youth teams. Two years later, during the 2007/2008 season he made a handful of substitute appearances and soon began to become a prominent feature in the Lille first team.
The 2009/2010 saw the midfielder crowned Young Player of the Season at Lille for the second successive season, while also being named in the Ligue 1 Team of the Year. He was earning a long list of admirers as French World Cup winner Christophe Dugarry described him as 'faster than Zidane, more technique than Henry and custom-made for Real Madrid`. However it was not all plain sailing for Hazard as at the beginning of the 2010/2011 season he came under heavy criticism from Belgian coach Georges Leekens as his physical and mental state was questioned.
This only proved to spur Hazard on as he had a resurgent second half to the season, and scored a dozen goals including the only one in the Coupe de France Final win over Nancy. The 21-year-old finished with 36 goals and numerous assists in 147 league appearances at Lille, before Chelsea moved to snap up the hot prospect for £32 million in June 2012.
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