Chelsea’s season simply goes from weakness to weakness. Horrific beginnings of their title defence left domestic glory shattered before Christmas, compounded by an ultimately honourable, yet frustrating, Champions League defeat, and culminated in the FA Cup loss at the hands of Everton.
Representing the epitome of such a catastrophic fall from grace is their once worshipped and feared winger Eden Hazard. Last year, his 14 goals and 9 assists came as part of a fearsome three pronged attack, along with Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa, that ended with him taking the title of PFA Player of the Year. Such a rise since his 2012 move to South London begged the question of how long it would be before he was in the running for the Ballon D’Or.
This year, a shadow has emerged. Admittedly, the entire team has been at fault for the shortcomings at Stamford Bridge this year, with virtually no cause for optimism over a season as disheartening as their relegation year of 1975. But such was Hazards performances last year, he placed an awful lot of anticipation for consistency on his shoulders, and he has well and truly fallen short.
Questions have arisen over Hazard’s commitment to the Blues. While his natural style of play is found wanting defensively, his attacks too look haphazard – pardon the pun. His frustrated looks and often isolated figure on the wing after yet another attacking letdown a prime example of the remarkable drop in form he has suffered.
After having scooped his PFA Award at the April gala, Paris St. Germain were rumoured to have set their sets on the Belgian winger, as they prepared for a challenge on European trophies. Though they have since landed Angel Di Maria from Manchester United, their interest in Hazard doesn’t appear to have wavered, with rumours that Hazard is to replace the since departed Ezekiel Lavezzi on the PSG wing.
However, the transfer is far from complete. At this stage, no money has been discussed, no offers tabled. It is simply smoke talk. Hazard has allowed it to completely blind him from current events, the distraction of transfer discussions so blatantly obvious, and his conversations with the media, and speaking so wantonly, makes it all the more obvious he wants out of the Bridge as soon as he can.
Champions League football is all but of the question for Guus Hiddink’s labouring troops. Even Europa qualification seems beyond them. The fallout is impending, and Hazard looks set to step readily into Roman Abramovich’s firing line.
Would Hazard prosper at PSG? On the back of their fourth consecutive Ligue 1 title, and with rumours rife that star forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic is set to leave for pastures new, it could be the ideal time for Hazard to start dreaming. On the other hand, such dreams of Parisian life are hampered further by the fact he is playing his worst football since arriving in England almost four years ago. Having scored 2 goals and assisting 7 all season, they are hardly the numbers that would send PSG manager Laurent Blanc rushing to London and stuffing a cheque into Abramovich’s hands. If his goal is flourishing in France, he had better start labouring in London.