As he whizzes through defenders and scores a goal or two on a balmy Wednesday night in Sunderland, one asks how good is Eden Hazard?
The young Belgian, who made the move from Lille to Stamford Bridge last summer, has shown glimpses of sheer brilliance in some matches, but glimpses is all we have had so far.
For £32m most would say that he was valued quite right, he is young, determined and no doubt skilful but so far he has not shown the dominance he was billed for during his Lille days.
The Belgian’s reputation amongst respected figures in the game is a testament to the player.
"I told myself – this player is different," Zinedine Zidane told Canal +.
"He is a player with enormous personality on the pitch. He gives you pleasure. What he does at his age impresses me. He helps others to play, for me that is his strength. He is intelligent when he plays the game."
As footballers, they evaluate players in a diverse way, they perceive core talent differently to what a fan or a journalist does, which mean these comments should be taken with great consideration.
Roberto Di Matteo purchased the winger from Lille after a huge season from Chelsea’s Juan Mata earning him the club’s Player of the Year award, as well buying a young Brazilian playmaker from Internacional, Oscar.
This eventuated to three playmakers in the one side. Even though Hazard did enough week in week out to claim his spot, his exposure and chances with the ball were limited to these moments of brilliance.
There were rarely any games in which he took over the whole match, which in the end is what separates the two best in the world over Hazard.
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo has the team built around them and there is no doubt that their teammates know this and more importantly respect this.
They rely on them greatly for goals and assists and look for the pass to them whenever they can. Hazard is in a different predicament he is very much part of the team but not the star, and furthermore he is in direct competition against three similar players; Willian, Oscar and Mata. Though it must be stated that Hazard is a different breed, he is better than all these three but seems to lack the confidence.
He showed at Lille his ability to finish but at Chelsea he always seems to pass first, though games in which he wants to score, he somehow always scores. As we’ve seen time and time again confidence plays a huge part in a footballer’s form on the pitch. Messi and Ronaldo certainly don’t lack in confidence but the nature of their situation is different.
Hazard is widely regarded as a calm mannered person with a great demeanour. At his young age he is in a long term relationship with his partner and has two children with her. He has never been perceived as a party goer or someone that enjoys the exploits of being a high paid footballer. He is alleged to be someone that has developed a high work ethic and discipline which is something that all the greats have in common.
At 22 he is still considered a young player and has the world on his feet. At the same age Messi won the first of his four Balon D’or awards and Ronaldo was a year away from winning his, which means the time is now for Hazard to step up.
At the end of the season, there is a little tournament called the World Cup and Eden is firmly the national side’s best player, their team is built around him.
He is their centrepiece and perhaps he can use this platform to show everybody at Chelsea that he is the player to lead their new dynasty and furthermore show the world that he has what it takes to compete with Messi and Ronaldo.
Eden needs to step up and more importantly his manager and teammates need to assist him in being a great. He needs to build his confidence and do more, he has it in him to score 25-30 goals a season but that won’t come unless he attempts them. To be the best player in the world these days you need to score goals.
After the display he showed against Sunderland, Chelsea fans must be licking their lips and hoping that they have the next Ballon d’Or winner in their roster. Eden remember Confidence is the Key to Success.
Write for GiveMeSport! Sign-up to the GMS Writing Academy here: http://gms.to/1a2u3KU