Chelsea fans want Eden Hazard to return to Stamford Bridge in a move that seems to be fueled by pure nostalgia, but is it? Or is it something more sinister? It’s a knock on Hazard that after being said to have carried a club like Chelsea for seven years, he got his move to Madrid and he has not dazzled, especially considering that La Liga is supposed to be “easier” than the Premier League.
The Belgian cost Real Madrid £130 million and £400k/week. His stans are trying to save face, hoping that when he comes back he’d hit the levels he was at when he was last in the Premier League, even though they know it’s not likely to happen.
You see many talk about Chelsea needing someone to dribble and create chances but that’s not really what this is about. There’s a fear that Hazard was a big fish in a small pond, so before the narrative is built, his stans want him back in an environment they last saw him thrive.
They know that the Hazard in many people’s minds at the moment is a Hazard that transferred to Real Madrid for big money and hasn’t been a successful transfer. However, let’s go back to the narrative that Hazard would be better placed to solve Chelsea’s chance creation issues. At Real Madrid, Hazard is not the creative juggernaut many think he’d be should he return to Stamford Bridge
You see, Hazard moved to Madrid in 2019. According to SofaScore, in the 2019/20 La Liga season, Hazard played 1088 minutes and scored one goal, assisting three. He created 1.3 chances per game, creating 4 big chances. Many complain about Chelsea’s Hakim Ziyech who is under performing, but he too didn’t put up numbers too different from that. Ziyech played 85 more minutes, recorded one more direct goal involvement and created 1.5 chances per game, creating 6 big chances. Chelsea fans have all but given up on Ziyech yet he’s not the one coming from the most intense league in the world in a £130M move.
Hazard’s second La Liga season was uncomfortably similar to his first, though not in minutes played. He played 532 minutes and recorded five goal involvements, his chance creation numbers went down though, which is no surprise considering his shortage of minutes. He created 0.4 chance per game, creating just one big chance.
In his first two Champions league campaigns for Real Madrid, Hazard had created 1.8 and 0.4 chances per game respectively, no big chance, and recording a combined two goal involvements. These aren’t the numbers of a player who carried a top European team in one of the most physical leagues in the world, for seven years.
Hazard has had injury problems, but it is difficult to excuse the poor numbers he’s had considering the way the Chelsea fanbase regards Ziyech. Many Chelsea fans feel let down by Ziyech and won’t bat an eyelid if Ziyech is sold. Ziyech has also had an injury laden Chelsea career, yet he’s not cut that much slack. Instead, the fans want him to be shipped out, and want someone with worse creation numbers, in a relatively easier league, playing with objectively better players, to replace the Moroccan.
Hazard turns 31 in January 2022, he left Chelsea when he was 28. The hope that he’d return to Stamford Bridge and reproduce the numbers the fans remember, is blind hope, and that hope is not worth bringing him back. Chelsea has 6 players contesting or two positions, Hazard would make that seven contesting for two. Chelsea doesn’t need that complication; the fans don’t need that complication and Thomas Tuchel doesn’t need that complication. No, Hazard wouldn’t “teach” the Chelsea midfielders and forwards players anything about chance creation. The Hazard back to Chelsea clamor seems like pure nostalgia, but it is likely something deeper than that, which is why business decisions thankfully, aren’t made with the heart.
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