Hazard’s Brilliance Powers Chelsea
The impact of Eden Hazard the last two years after the departure of Diego Costa is undeniable. This season, 21 goals and 15 assists in all competitions for a player heavily linked to Real Madrid in the transfer window. Hazard holds one more year on his deal, but the 28-year-old is looking for a new challenge and fulfilling a dream by joining the Spanish power.
Hazard stated in post game of Chelsea’s 4-1 shredding of Arsenal in the Europa League Final, “I have made my decision already, and now I’m waiting on both clubs. I think it is a goodbye, but in football, you never know.”
Hazard continued, “my dream was to play in the Premier League, and I have done that for one of the biggest clubs, so maybe now it is the time for a new challenge.”
The clubs have been far apart in their evaluations of the player. Chelsea’s evaluation over the past few months has been no lower than £100m for the star forward. Los Blancos have been reluctant to match the evaluation, but with Hazard’s intentions publicly made there is a good chance a deal will be struck somewhere in the middle.
The Europa Final played even in the first half with Arsenal having a slight edge in chance. Xhaka having the best opportunity for Arsenal in the first half as a blast went off the crossbar. Arsenal was also not awarded a penalty after Alexandre Lacazette hit the deck in Chelsea’s box after appearing to round Kepa Arrizabalaga. VAR did not overrule the referee decision, and the score remained 0-0 going into the halftime.
The second half possession remained close, but Chelsea exposed spaces between the midfield and the Gunners backline continuously and caused the Gunners hopes of making Champions League. Former Arsenal man Olivier Giroud headed in the first from a beautiful cross from Emerson Palmieri. The second goal came from Pedro running freely in the box and receiving a perfect setup from Hazard. Hazard made it 3-0 on a penalty shot after a foul of Giroud in the box.
Alex Iwobi scored Arsenal’s lone goal to cut the lead to two, but all hope was lost as again. Giroud and Hazard teamed up and the Belgian slotted home the Blues fourth goal and the final dagger.
Hazard’s performance again showed why most consider him one of the top six to eight players in the world. His departure with Chelsea’s transfer ban will likely cripple the club going into next season with little to no chance in Champions League. Arsenal will have to try to strengthen their side without the appeal of playing in Europe’s top flight league again next season.