Change is nigh at Stamford Bridge with Antonio Conte being named as Chelsea’s next manager over course of the past week. As a result, the club can be optimistic that the struggles of 2015-16 will soon to be behind them.
Perhaps the biggest victim of this squad decline has been Eden Hazard. The Belgian has sunk from being the PFA Player of the Year to a target of criticism and ridicule.
However, with Conte’s arrival now confirmed, there is hope for Hazard. The Italian could prove the man to get the Chelsea star firing on all cylinders once again.
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There seemed no player exempt from criticism at the start of Chelsea’s campaign with the Blues nose-diving under Jose Mourinho.
Despite this, most of the squad have found their feet again alongside Guus Hiddink. This cannot be said of Eden Hazard though.
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While the talent still lingers, just two goals and four assists in 37 appearances is a whimsical record. There can be little surprise that the Belgian has been linked with a move away from the club with such festering flops in form.
Hiddink stated to the press this week, according to the BBC: “Last year everything was beautiful and this year everything is, for him, dark. The contrast is huge,"
"He was the number one and now he's at the end of a long row of players. That's difficult. What do you do?"
The situation certainly looks dire for Hazard and his faltering showings have seen many Chelsea fans encourage rumours of his departure. It’s certainly telling when you consider Blues supporters would have felt sick to the stomach at the thought of him leaving had the rumour mill kicked in a year beforehand.
However, while the change from Mourinho to Hiddink didn’t prove fruitful, the switch from Hiddink to Conte might.
Such suggestions have been fuelled recently amidst the Daily Mail reporting that Hazard has agreed to stay at Chelsea after talks with the Italian coach.
If these reports are to be believed, it is clear that the Belgian not only has faith in the new manager but a hunger to fight for his place once again. While only so much can be established from a first encounter, the signs are promising.
In addition, Conte has vast experience dealing with strong personalities and big name stars. Having grappled with Paul Pogba and Mario Balotelli amongst others in his managerial career, the 46-year-old might prove the one to resurrect Hazard’s Chelsea tenure.
Above all, a new manager will give Hazard a fresh impetus to once again perform and even more so after a rest in the summer.
It’s crunch time when it comes to the 23-year-old’s future in west London and seeing how he performs under Conte appears the last role of the dice.
Chelsea fans have lost a lot of love for Hazard this season but Conte’s arrival may be the change necessary to reinvigorate a very talented player back into action. For the sake of the club, we better hope so.
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