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Adios Eden Hazard

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Eden Hazard Transfers from Chelsea to Real Madrid

Eden Hazard - Chelsea - Premier League
Chelsea — and Premier League — fans will miss the sight of Eden Hazard scoring goals.
Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Hazard’s long-rumored transfer is finally official as one of the EPL’s brightest lights leaves for La Liga titan Real Madrid. Can the 2-transfer-window buying-banned Blues cope with losing a superstar who scored the second most points in fantasy Premier League last season?

On a scale from 1 to 10, the shock level of Eden Hazard’s exit rates a zero. Everybody not in a coma has known that this was coming for a long time. Even so, the ramifications are potentially enormous. For Madrid, it provides a desperately needed boost following a disappointing third place La Liga finish. For Chelsea, meanwhile, it looks to be a painful dagger, and quick recovery may prove nearly impossible unless their buying-ban appeal succeeds (and the ban remains in effect during the CAF process).

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JUST HOW GREAT WAS HAZARD?

Hazard has unquestionably been one of the Premier League’s biggest superstars since he joined Chelsea in 2012-13, racking up 85 goals and 54 assists in 245 games. He won two EPL trophies with the Blues in 2014-15 and 2016-17, while earning the Player of the Season award in 2014-15. Amazingly, though, the 2018-19 season was surely his most prolific — at least from an individual standpoint — as he impressively took his game up another notch, matching a personal previous high in goals and setting a new best in assists. Perhaps that says more about the rest of the Chelsea squad coming to rely on him, and that’s not something that Chelsea fans will want to contemplate.

Eden Hazard’s EPL Statistics by Season

SEASON GAMES GOALS ASSISTS GOALS + ASSISTS
SEASON GAMES GOALS ASSISTS GOALS + ASSISTS
2018/19 37 16 15 31
2017/18 34 12 4 16
2016/17 36 16 5 21
2015/16 31 4 3 7
2014/15 38 14 9 23
2013/14 35 14 7 21
2012/13 34 9 11 20

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CHELSEA’S PRECARIOUS PREDICAMENT

Following the sacking of Antonio Conte, Chelsea enjoyed a successful season under new manager Maurizio Sarri, finishing third in the Premier League and winning the Europa League trophy, twice earning entry into next season’s Champions League. As per BBC, Chelsea will reportedly get an initial payment of £89m (€100m Euros) from Real Madrid — with possible future add-ons that could approach £60m — which theoretically afford the opportunity for the London outfit to restock nicely — when the FA allows management to buy more players.

However, the situation could prove precarious. Not only does the team lose its only true superstar, but the rumor mill has Sarri possibly going to Juventus to fill the managerial opening created by Massimiliano Allegri’s departure, which would put the direction of the side into serious upheaval yet again. And while young American winger Christian Pulisic comes over this summer on a delayed transfer from Borussia Dortmund, it’s probable that the money chest earned from Hazard’s sale will not be able to be cracked open any time soon. Chelsea was handed a two-window transfer ban covering summer 2019 and January 2020; the team has appealed (and lost and appealed again), but it is unlikely that the punishment will be ameliorated in any way — especially since it was ruled to remain in effect during the appeal to CAF. If both the start time and the length of the suspension are upheld, things will look quite dire.

It’s not just that Hazard was spectacular last season; that was a commonplace occurrence during his career with the Blues. 2018-19 was only the second time in his seven years that Hazard has led the team in goals and assists each, as he basically carried the offense on his back by himself, unlike in most prior campaigns when he was aided by the significant contributions of Diego Costa, Cesc Fabregas, Frank Lampard, Juan Mata, et al.

Chelsea Team Leaders by Season in the Hazard Era

SEASON GOALS LEADER PLAYER ASSISTS LEADER PLAYER
SEASON GOALS LEADER PLAYER ASSISTS LEADER PLAYER
2018-19 16 E. Hazard 15 E. Hazard
2017-18 12 E. Hazard 7 Willian
2016-17 20 D. Costa 12 C. Fabregas
2015-16 12 D. Costa 7 C. Fabregas
2014-15 20 D. Costa 18 C. Fabregas
2013-14 14 E. Hazard 7 E. Hazard
2012-13 15 F. Lampard 12 J. Mata

Chelsea desperately needs someone to fill the boots of the seemingly irreplaceable Eden Hazard. But given the transfer ban, will they even be able to try?

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WHERE DOES HAZARD’S EXIT FIT IN RECENT EPL HISTORY?

The Premier League is accustomed to adding superstars much more than seeing them go. However, Hazard isn’t the first to depart, and he won’t be the last. We have seen several big-name players leave Britain in recent times. But just where does Hazard’s departure fit in the context of others? Let’s look at a list of players who have left the EPL for at least €50.0m in the 2010s.

Major EPL Transfers Out in Recent Seasons

SEASON PLAYER PRICE (�) AGE EPL TEAM GAMES GOALS ASSISTS (G+A)/GM FOREIGN TEAM
SEASON PLAYER PRICE (�) AGE EPL TEAM GAMES GOALS ASSISTS (G+A)/GM FOREIGN TEAM
2018-19 E. Hazard 100.0m 28 Chelsea 245 85 54 0.57 Real Madrid
2017-18 P. Coutinho 145.0m 25 Liverpool 152 41 35 0.50 Barcelona
2017-18 D. Costa 66.0m 29 Chelsea 89 52 16 0.76 Atletico Madrid
2016-17 Oscar 60.0m 25 Chelsea 131 21 19 0.31 SIPG (China)
2015-16 A. Di Maria 63.0m 27 Man. United 27 3 10 0.48 Paris St.-Germain
2014-15 L. Suarez 81.7m 27 Liverpool 110 69 23 0.84 Barcelona
2013-14 G. Bale 101.0m 24 Tottenham 146 42 20 0.42 Real Madrid

[Source: www.transfermarkt.com]

Compared to the other players, Hazard’s EPL mark of 0.57 goals plus assists per game is higher than everyone other than pure strikers Diego Costa and Luis Suarez. Fellow attacking midfielders Oscar, Philippe Coutinho, Angel Di Maria and Gareth Bale ranged from 0.31 to 0.50. Taking that context into account, is Hazard the biggest EPL exit since Cristiano Ronaldo departed Manchester United a decade ago?

Looking at his age of 28, Hazard is close to the oldest in the list, but he’s not too far from the youngest, either. Chelsea certainly did better getting Hazard from Lille for only €35m at age 21 with most of his prime ahead of him, but Real Madrid will have no complaints about bringing in the more seasoned, superstar version.

Looking at the chart of Hazard’s individual Chelsea EPL statistics further above, one thing aside from his remarkable productivity that deserves mention is just how durable he has proven. Despite being targeted as much on the pitch as in transfer windows, and suffering an enormous amount of fouls, the brilliant Belgian played 31+ games in each of his seven seasons, managing 35+ appearances four times. In stark contrast, Gareth Bale and Philippe Coutinho have missed more than their fair share of time with injury, something that Real Madrid — theoretically, at least — will not have to worry nearly as much about with Hazard.

Interestingly, Chelsea has not been at all averse to letting star offensive players exit Britain for top dollar, having done so with Costa and Oscar in recent seasons before Hazard. As mentioned though, it’s vital to be able to restock, as the Blues have done with Christian Pulisic (€64.0m in 2018-19, delayed), Jorginho (€57.0m in 2018-19), and Alvaro Morata (€66.0m in 2017-18), in addition to several others below the €50m threshold. Of course, Morata was viewed as a failure, Jorginho has not been met with widespread approval, Pulisic remains to be seen, and it is unclear whether Chelsea’s transfer ban will be upheld. With the ban in effect, the only other “new” talent source will be to recall players Chelsea have out on loan (e.g. Alvaro Morata, Victor Moses, Tim Bakayoko and nine others).

Let’s appreciate the greatness that Eden Hazard brought to Chelsea and to the Premier League — as well as to world football with the Belgium national team, of course — as he moves on to Madrid.

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[Note: Premier League statistics used in the article came via the Official Premier League website.]

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How do you think Chelsea will cope with the loss of Eden Hazard? Are you dreading a fantasy season where you won’t be able to call on the superstar’s talents? Are you looking forward to fantasy replacements at bargain new-boy prices? Where does Hazard rank on the all-time list of transfer players from the Premier League? Please talk to us in the comments!

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