September 8th, 2011 by SeveSanchez
If I told you I was certain of the next “big thing” in football, was that something you’d be interested in? What if I went further, and said he’s already an accomplished European international at the ripe age of 20? That he’s playing for a club masquerading as a feeder club like it’s Halloween all day every damn day? That he has a “power name” unmatched since the 1st coming of Ever Banega?
Ladies and gentleman, I give you Eden Hazard.
(TIMEOUT: Okay, I know the buildup I just chucked at you isn’t quite fair. Check this out… I am a 28-year-old striker. I’ve played for PSV, Ajax, Real Madrid, and Milan. I have 28 goals in 46 CAPS for the Netherlands. Who am I? Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. Easily the frontrunner for most-impressive-resumé-to-outhouse-player…ever.)
Just trust me on Hazard. The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wastoids, dweebies, ****heads – they all adore him. They think he’s a righteous dude… Better yet, trust your own eyes via the above video. The kid just has it.
Hazard’s style bears a striking resemblance to that of a young Cristiano Ronaldo. He’s got every trick in the book, loves to show off, and has that same lanky sort of running style where his legs hypnotize defenders– which is saying something, considering Hazard stands only 5 foot 8. Position-wise, he’s that new winger/forward hybrid that’s been reinvented by Ronaldo, Messi, Suarez, and Sanchez (another player Hazard resembles a bit). You throw him anywhere along the frontline and watch him drop bombs on your moms.
Once Hazard figures out that chicks dig goals more than fancy dribbling, he’ll be an absolute monster– just like Ronaldo. In fact, let’s take a little statistical peek at where Hazard’s club career is at:
2008-2009: 35 appearances, 6 goals, 3 assists
2009-2010: 52 appearances, 10 goals, 9 assists
2010-2011: 52 appearances, 12 goals, 10 assists
Since Hazard had his breakout season (aged 17), he’s consistently proven himself to be a “10 goal-10 assist” attacker over the course of a full season. At the very least, that’s worth £20-25m in today’s market. And that’s (quite safely) the worst case scenario, if he never allows his style to mature into something more meaningful. Considering he’s probably purchasable for around £30m this year, that wouldn’t be the worst return on your investment. And since he’s so young, he could give you 10-10 for at least half a dozen years, or you could resell him for decent value. (More on his future in a minute).
But what if he learned from the path of the Greasy One (never thought I’d say those words)? What if a top manager molded him into a harbinger of pestilence and destruction? Check this out, and tell me you don’t think the sky’s the limit.
Cristiano Ronaldo (age 17-20):
2003-2004: 40 appearances, 6 goals, 3 assists
2004-2005: 50 appearances, 9 goals, 4 assists
2005-2006: 47 appearances, 12 goals, 7 assists.
Hardly mind-blowing stats. Achieving them for Manchester United in England is probably on par with Hazard’s slightly better numbers in the French league. But here’s what happened when Ronaldo began a season at 20-years-old. (Most recent 2 seasons with Real Madrid in Spain, but you knew that, huh).
2006-2007: 53 appearances, 23 goals, 19 assists
2007-2008: 49 appearances, 42 goals, 8 assists
2008-2009: 53 appearances, 26 goals, 9 assists
2009-2010: 35 appearances, 33 goals, 7 assists
2010-2011: 54 appearances, 53 goals, 14 assist
Holy Superfly. Ronaldo’s statistical jump in 2006 would make Barry Bonds blush. Perhaps even more impressive are his two seasons at Madrid after earning his massive contract. Based on his personal life, it’d be easy to assume Ronaldo would mail it in once he had pockets guacamole. But a 53 goal tally last season doesn’t just say otherwise, it screams it.
So where does Eden Hazard go from here? For the young Belgian, it’s clear his future isn’t at Lille. It would be like Genghis Khan being too scared to ever leave Mongolia. The following are the most likely destinations for our epic hero.
Arsenal: Would’ve been the perfect fit. Think about it. A French-speaking manager with a penchant for giving major responsibility to young players. A French-speaking ensemble of players that play attractive, attacking football. Champions League opportunities and a major city to make his home… Perfect. Only, two things have screwed it up. First, Arsenal are already in serious danger of missing the top four this year (uh, duh). More importantly, I can’t see how Lille would ever do business with Arsenal following the Park Chu-Young incident. I mean, Arsenal “pulled the robbery” on Lille so hard, The Situation would’ve been proud. Nice one, Wenger.
Man United: Would be a solid, but potentially risky play for Hazard. Learning from Ferguson (as Ronaldo did) could definitely transform him into the goal hawk he ought to be. But Nani, Young, and Valencia aren’t exactly old geezers yet. And Rooney and Hernandez are going nowhere. Getting an extended run out would be a difficult prospect, and the last thing he needs is to stifle his development.
Chelsea: Where good players go to die. Kidding (or am I?). Mata and Malouda should have the wings locked down, and you get the feeling Abramovich won’t give up on Torres so soon. (And if he does, boy will Torres look sadder than Sad Keanu). With Drogba, Anelka, and Lukaku in the picture too you get the same overcrowding issue he’d have at United. There’s some risk there.
Man City: Well, he’d be paid well. And even with their talent, I could see Hazard slotting into the starting lineup right away. Only problem isn’t the players in front of him, but those he’d find looking over his shoulders. Who would Man City buy next? That’d be his major concern. Also, what assurances would he have with managerial continuity? One day Mancini could disappear into the night, gone ’til November. Hazard needs some stability in his career.
Tottenham: Haha, sorry. I just needed a laugh.
Liverpool: Has all the right elements for him. Hands-on, grooming manager in Dalglish. A solid team, but one that is desperate for a player at his position. The drawbacks at Liverpool are, of course, likely half the wages offered by the Big Wallet Clubs and still some uncertainty of Champions League football. Also, there’s the Joe Cole effect. Cole’s loan spell could butter Lille up to the Hazard deal if he plays like 2005 Joe Cole. But it could cause seriously bad blood if he plays like uh, normal Joe Cole.
Barcelona: No. It just wouldn’t be fair for videogame purposes. Besides, too many superstars already. What position would he play, keeper?
Real Madrid: Two Ronaldo’s could be a corrosive mixture. Hey, I like chocolate and I like sushi, but sometimes you just gotta know when too much good stuff isn’t right. Double Ronaldo’s? What does it mean?! Seriously, it would just be another impulse buy for Madrid. I can’t see it happening. It would make as much sense as the Red Hot Chili Peppers asking Kreayshawn to direct one of their music videos.
Any other Spanish team: Would be one giant step sideways. Maybe Malaga get indignant with their money and just throw it at him. Who knows? But it merely wouldn’t be progress for Hazard. Actually, make that any other team in France, too. Just delaying inevitable greatness.
AC Milan: A surprisingly good fit. Ibra is still the top dog in the center, who would link up very well with Hazard. Pato would compete a little, but an aging Cassano would likely give way for Hazard. The only drawback is the current culture at Milan. Robinho might be the worst role model Hazard could have, and Ibra isn’t exactly known as the most industrious trainer himself. It sure would be fun to watch Hazard in black and red though. Never doubt what Galliani has up his ruffled sleeves.
Juventus: Masters in under-performing. It would take a Herculean display of improvement this season for Juve to enter the Hazard conversation. The decline of Serie A isn’t doing them many favors, that’s for sure. And who can take them seriously since Eljero Elia punked them by publicly announcing he was too good for them, then Juve signing him anyway. They’re like the other girl who keeps telling herself “he’ll break up with her for me one day, as long as I keep making myself super available (read: easy) for him!”
Inter: A bit of a Catch-22. They’d probably only pursue Hazard if Sneijder left; but if Sneijder leaves, they’d officially become the most boring team in the world and lose their appeal to the Belgian. If Inter really wanted to boost their entertainment value, shoot a reality show following ex-striker Eto’o in Siberia. You could edit it for a weekly program to air immediately before Inter matches. Make a drinking game out of it based on how many times he gets A) extorted by the mob B) racially abused C) legs broken by the mob. (Actually, scrap that. REAL reality television is just sad). Anyway, my gut says Hazard ends up in the Premier League, so maybe I’ve just being biased against non-English clubs. Chocolate and sushi, man.
Bayern Munich: Interesting choice, and really the only serious contender from Germany (sorry Dortmund). He could probably come to dominate the entire league more quickly than he would in England or Spain, but the biggest test would come from his own teammates. Robben and Ribery are hurricane-proof, and Muller only has the entire hopes of his country pinned on his back. Hazard would have to become great to make it at Bayern, or else.
So there you have it. Now watch Hazard go to Porto or some wack club and waste everyone’s time. Like Neymar, Eden Hazard has the whole world at his feet. He can be hotter than a baby in a parking lot in the valley, or he can simply atrophy. Does he want to be Cristiano Ronaldo or Ricardo Quaresma? See, you already had to jog your memory to recall that name. Hope Hazard doesn’t become another Youtube prodigy long forgotten…Tags: Eden Hazard, Lille