So with the appointment of Zinedine Zidane at Madrid, reports are now emerging from reliable sources that Eden Hazard will be leaving Chelsea in the summer, probably for a fee of £100m.
With that news in mind, it’s time to assess the real impact of Hazard at Chelsea, and how much we will miss him when he’s gone. The most reliable stat to examine to reach a conclusion on just how much we’ll miss him, is this season’s statistics. With a transfer ban, and only Christian Pulisic coming in as a winger in the summer, we’ll have essentially the same wingers next season we have this season.
So just how much has Eden Hazard contributed? I went to the Transfer Markt website, which provides accurate and detailed stats on every player, to examine just how much Hazard has contributed this season, and where we would be without him – and the alternatives in our squad.
In the league, Hazard has 13 goals and and 11 assists. So 24 of our league goals this season, he played a key role.
There are 9 games where Hazard’s contribution has had a direct bearing on the result.
Arsenal (H) – 3-2 win – (2 assists) becomes a defeat
Newcastle (A) – 2-1 win – (2 assists) becomes a defeat
Cardiff (H) – 4-1 win – (3 goals) becomes a 1-1 draw
Liverpool (H) – 1-1 – (goal) becomes a defeat
Man City (H) – 2-0 win – (2 assists) becomes a 0-0 draw
Watford (A) – 2-1 win – (2 goals) becomes a 1-0 defeat
Newcastle (H) – 2-1 win – (1 assist) becomes a 1-1 draw
Fulham (A) 2-1 win – (1 assist) becomes a 1-1 draw
Wolves (H) – 1-1 – (1 goal) becomes a 1-0 defeat
In short, without Hazard we would have lost 6 more league games this season. We would have dropped 19 more points and our goal difference would be 11 less.
This would mean we’d currently be on 38 points with a goal difference of 8. That would place us in 10th position in the table after 30 league games this season.
For some context, that’s 20 points behind Manchester Utd in 5th place (Europa league place), 22 points behind Arsenal in fourth place (final Champions League spot) and a whopping 36 points behind leaders Manchester City.
The phrase “one man team” seems to be an understatement here.
And remember, if the transfer ban goes through this summer, we cannot buy a world class replacement for Eden Hazard, certainly not this summer.
So in cold hard terms, it looks really bad. The 10th position we finished in Hazard’s nightmare 15/16 season actually seems more understandable in this context.
But all might not be as bad as it seems. Let’s take a look at the alternatives.
So for comparison’s sake, bear in mind Eden Hazard has 16 goals and 11 assists in 38 games in all competitions and scores every 179 minutes. That’s the level we’re looking to replace.
First, let’s begin with the two most experienced players, Willian and Pedro.
Willian has 3 goals and 5 assists in 22 Premier League starts and 5 sub appearances, 6 goals and 10 assists in all competitions. He scores every 358 minutes – double the ratio of Hazard.
Pedro has 8 goals and 1 assist in 17 starts and 7 sub appearances in the league, and 10 goals and 3 assists overall. He scores on average every 259 minutes.
So combined, Pedro and Willian have 14 goals and 11 assists between them. That’s not bad, but it’s solid, not spectacular. And given both are now over 30, there’s no scope for this to improve. They aren’t going to fill the gaps, especially in terms of goals.
Now for the two possible long-term replacements Callum Hudson-Odoi and Christian Pulisic, who arrives in the summer, and see what their stats are.
We have to bear in mind that for both these players, a lot of appearances are as substitute, so aren’t full games – but nevertheless, its worth a look:
Christian Pulisic has 5 goals and 5 assists in 24 games this season. Very similar stats to Hudson-Odoi in fact. He has 262 minutes per goal. But again, he is only 20, and hasn’t been playing regularly. But as he is 20, he again will improve and those numbers will surely get better next year.
Finally, Callum Hudson-Odoi. In 22 games in all competitions this season, has 5 goals and 5 assists. He scores every 247 minutes, which is better than all the alternatives. Given his age and the increased games he will (hopefully) get, he will surely improve next season. His goals, assists, and minutes per goal stats will all get better.
It’s also important to bear in mind the lack of goals from strikers in the first half of this season – and if Gonzalo Higuain stays at the club, there could also be increased goals up front in the absence of Hazard.
What is clear is Hazard’s impact on Chelsea has been huge. He’s a world class talent, and in many ways has carried us for several years. The next year or so if, we can’t buy a replacement straightaway, is going to be tough.
In truth, as Eden Hazard departs, we reach the end of a cycle at Chelsea. A glorious 7 years, with two league titles, Europa league, FA Cup, League Cup and potentially another Europa league title to come.
As Hazard leaves, we should be grateful for his incredible contribution. I think, knowing he is likely to be going, we should just savour every moment of the time we have left. Hazard has 8 league games, and potentially a Europa league semi and final, if we make it that far. Potentially 11 games. Let’s enjoy this time.
I’m sure Hazard himself wants to leave on a high and deliver one more trophy for Chelsea before he leaves. He loves the club, and he will want to go out on a high.
Life in the short-term will be tough without him, but Chelsea will move on and come again. And Hazard himself will leave as a bona fide Chelsea legend.
So here, as I close, is little reminder of one Hazard’s greatest moments in a Chelsea shirt, this season against Liverpool in the league cup.
Savour every moment. We’ve been privileged to have such a talent as Eden Hazard at Chelsea Football Club.
(Photos: Getty Images)