2015-16 was expected to be the season when Eden Hazard established himself among football’s elite.
The previous year, he earned PFA Player of the Year honours after an electric campaign for Chelsea.
But watch the Belgian now and you’ll see a shadow of his former self. Until last week he hadn’t scored a single Premier League goal this season and his confidence is shot to bits.
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His form has put the brakes on any potential move to Real Madrid and he could be dumped when Antonio Conte arrives in the summer.
Quite what has happened to the 25-year-old isn’t clear, but Chelsea scout Piet de Visser knows who is responsible for Hazard’s demise.
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De Visser believes that Jose Mourinho, sacked by the west London club in December, caused Hazard’s plight by placing too much pressure on him.
The Dutchman continues by claiming that Mourinho thought he could turn the winger into Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo.
It’s this, De Visser claims, that has led to stress and injuries ruining Hazard’s season.
"Eden is a player who has moments of brilliance. Mourinho tried to turn him into an improved version of Messi or Ronaldo, but that is impossible," De Visser told Belgium-based newspaper HLN, per Goal.
“Hazard will never be like that. Eden is Eden, a player with brilliant individual actions, but someone who will never become a machine. He also wants to relax. You should never make him the player to carry the team. Don't make him the captain. Just tell him to enjoy himself out there.
“Mourinho is a winner and wanted to get even more out of Eden. He was already great, though, so why not just leave it at that? Mourinho wanted him to carry the team in every game, to score every match and to be decisive all the time.
“The pressure became too much for Eden and that hurt his game. That's when Mourinho lost it. Hazard went from heaven to hell under Mourinho. That led to stress and injuries. I hope the new coach will treat him differently.”
Hazard followed up his Young Player of the Year title in 2014 by claiming the main prize last year. He scored 19 goals in all competitions as the Blues won the Premier League and League Cup under Mourinho.
It’s hardly surprising that the Portuguese entrusted him to lead the way for Chelsea this term, but things have panned out horribly for both.
Some fans will even claim that Hazard played a big role in Roman Abramovich’s decision to sack Mourinho.
Fortunately for the Belgian, he’ll be forced to forget about this season in a hurry. Hazard will represent the Red Devils at this summer’s European Championship in France, where Marc Wilmots’ team will be looking to fulfil their tag as dark horses.