If you’re a fan of Chelsea Football Club, chances are you’re probably mad after reading the title of this article. And I understand why you don’t want to see Eden Hazard leaving Chelsea. Honestly, I would love for him to stay too. However, it’s not really in our hands anymore as Hazard himself said that he has made a decision already. Barring the fee, everything else is pretty much agreed if the reports are to be believed.
Whether you like it or not, Eden Hazard is leaving Chelsea. He played 7 years for us and won us two Premier League titles and a few other trophies. Hopefully, he will win us one last trophy that is Europa League.
So what happens once he leaves? Who is going to play on the left wing? Whom are we going to buy to replace Hazard (which is probably an impossible task)? Are we going to fail miserably next season now that the best player of our team is leaving? While all those questions need to be answered, in this article, we are going to look at the positive side for Chelsea in this transfer.
The 2018-19 season had lots of ups and downs and it was mostly because our players couldn’t play the way Sarri wanted them to. Before this season, Hazard on average had contributed about 25% of the total goals scored by Chelsea per season. However, this season, Chelsea were dependent on him so much so that he has contributed towards almost 50% of the goals scored by Chelsea (double the average).
Compare that with two of the other best players in the league, Raheem Sterling and Mohamed Salah. Sterling has contributed to 28% of Manchester City’s goals this season in Premier League whereas Salah has had a hand in 34% of Liverpool’s goals this season in the league. While both were tremendous for their respective teams this season, none of them were as important to their team as Hazard was to Chelsea.
It is so scary to think where we would be in the table if we took away Hazard’s contribution this season. Any team that depends on one player so much would suffer a lot once that player leaves. Take a look at Real Madrid after Ronaldo left. It will take them years to replace him properly.
Does this mean we are certain to fail next season?
Hazard is a type of player who likes to play the way he wants to play. That is, keeping the ball to himself and trying to score audacious solo goals like the one he scored against West Ham this season. Often times, you would’ve seen Hazard on the left wing taking a lot of time trying to do everything on his own. This doesn’t necessarily mean he’s selfish.
Unfortunately, Willian, the right winger of Chelsea, plays just the same. Just like Hazard, he doesn’t like to pass a lot and would often try to dribble past multiple players and fail. In fact, there is a theory that Willian and Hazard were the main reasons for Morata’s failures at Chelsea as they never trusted the Spaniard enough to pass the ball to him. Whether it’s true or not, it’s a well-known fact that Hazard and to a certain extent, Willian are individualistic players.
In December, Ex-AC Milan coach Arrigo Sacchi said this about Hazard:
“Hazard does not play for the team and with the team at all times. He has been free to play as he wants and it can take great effort to change.
Generally those who are used to playing alone play alone and do not take advantage of the synergy.
Hazard is a champion. He has strength, technical quality and speed. But he does not always exploit the synergy of the team.”
Nobody could’ve said it better. Actually the following tweet said it well. But people abused him for that.
To play Sarriball, we need players who understand the system that Sarri has been trying to implement at Chelsea. If you had watched Napoli under Sarri, you’d have noticed that not one player would hold the ball for longer than 2-3 seconds, especially in the final third.
How many times have we seen Chelsea play like this in the 2018-19 season? Very few times. And it was beautiful to watch when we played like that.
Now watch how Chelsea played all season. It doesn’t matter who had the ball, they all would often give it to Hazard in the final third who would take his time to find spaces to score or pass. While this worked so well under previous managers (because of the counter-attacking football we played), it didn’t work as well as you’d expect under Sarri. And that is because, in this attacking style of football, we are trying to attack while opponents sit back and defend. It means amazing solo goals would be much harder to score. Chelsea are trying to build a team that does not depend on one player to score. Just like Manchester City. If we build a proper system of play, it doesn’t matter if one player has an off day. Probably another player would score that day.
Having said all that, we need to admire and appreciate Hazard for everything he did for us over the past seven seasons. We all love him so much, but it’s time to let him go. He deserves to accomplish his dreams.
About Chelsea, we don’t need a team of individual star players. What we need is a team of players who believe in the system and try to play accordingly. Unless we build that team, we will struggle again next season, probably without Eden Hazard.