Currently lauded as the marquee talent in the world’s most entertaining league and the heir to throne shared by two of the game’s active legends, Eden Hazard is viewed as the next superstar of world football.
Amongst all the glowing accolades from fans and managers alike, in the midst of all the honours he may win this season the question still needs to be asked; is he really capable of emulating or even eclipsing Barcelona’s magical No.10 and Real Madrid’s superhuman No.7?
So much has been made about his last two campaigns in England, so much so that his manager claims he is as good as the two aforementioned heavyweights.
Jose Mourinho and the blue sixth of London aside, does the rest of the football world truly think he can outscore, out-create and out-do the achievements of both Messi and Ronaldo or is he only set to reach the pinnacle of the muggle world, of which those two sit separate?
There is no doubting his fleet-footedness, his mesmerising runs, his unnatural body contouring and his blistering acceleration but aesthetics aside is Hazard currently, or will he ever become the devastating, big game, trophy laden match winner of those he is trying to aspire to?
French legend Zinedine Zidane said recently of Hazard “He is a star of the future” along with implying that he would snap your hand of for the Belgian winger, who wouldn’t? But at the age of 24, he is still viewed in some quarters as football’s future, whilst Ronaldo and Messi had already taken control.
The latter set a world record for goals scored in a season and went on to better Gerd Muller’s 40 year record of most goals in a calendar year in the following.
Ronaldo, as a winger like Hazard, won a second Premier League crown, scored in the final and won his first Champions League medal and set a Manchester United club goal scoring record with 42 goals in all competitions.
Hazard however has only won a League Cup prior, whilst this season will most probably deliver a Premier League medal too, he will not even break the 20 goal mark.
Armchair fans may rely heavily on stats to sound professional and to back their arguments, but club officials also use stats to decide on which players they will splash the cash. So in honour of all footballing folk here are some stats to ponder over.
We’ll compare the current Ballon d’Or winner’s famous season at the age of 24 and our successor’s current “breakthrough” season. We are using Ronaldo as the comparison as Messi has never played in the Premier League and it must be noted too that this season has not quite finished.
Name Ronaldo 07/08 Hazard 14/15
Goals 28 13
Assists 6 8
Shots 120 50
Chances Created 52 87
Personal Honours (to date) 6 2
Chelsea’s little maestro will take the prize for more assists and has created far more chances for his team that Ronaldo did. However, the current Madrid man had more than double Hazard’s shots and goals.
Football is about the three points and again United’s former No.7 is the best at earning them. Ronaldo had also already finished in the top three at the Ballon d’Or ceremony, amassed three PFA awards, a Premier League Player of the Year and won two Player of the Month awards before 2007/08.
Even off the back of Hazard's great season he is not going to emulate Ronaldo’s haul of PFA Player of the Year, Barclay’s Premier League Player of the Year, Best Champion’s League Player and of course a first Ballon d’Or.
Name Ronaldo 07/08 Hazard 14/15
Penalties 4 (13%) 3 (23%)
Headers 5 2
Left 5 5
Right 20 6
Braces 8 0
Hat-Tricks 1 0
Information like this throws up a lot of points, however the most prevalent is that when compared to the current superstar’s equivalent season, Hazard is a less dynamic, more predictable and no where’s near as devastating a player.
You could bank on Ronaldo to pop up anywhere with a goal, whereas Hazard is notorious for cutting in and grabbing a goal. He has yet to score beyond the 79th minute whereas Ronaldo scoring 16 percent of goals between the 80th and final minute.
It is data like this that proves that at the same age, even in the same league, between them Ronaldo and Messi were light-years ahead of the pack. They were breaking and setting records, had match upon match of outstanding performances and at 24 they were both considered complete.
Many argue that Hazard will eventually fill the shoes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi but when in direct competition to the former he comes up someway short.
In the Premier League six players lie ahead of the Chelsea man in the goalscoring charts, four of whom are playing their first full season in the league. He may yet still impress but considering the rate and speed of improvement by the game’s two legends over their proceeding seasons, Hazard has a lot of work to do to get anywhere close to them.
His runs and skills, his team-work and hunger for football are second to none and are lauded around the globe, as they should be.
But when football players hang their boots up it is the goals, the games they won, the trophies they gathered that decide whether or not they are placed on the ‘Legends’ field or the ‘Top Players’ field.
Right now Eden Hazard is only a top ‘Top Player’.
Do you think Eden Hazard is capable of emulating Messi and Ronaldo? Let us know below!