By: Mike Newell
I’m excited as this is a new feature that I hope to make a regular part of the site so please let me know what you think through the 90:00 comments or at email@example.com. This week our feature young star is Eden Hazard of French side Lille and the Belgian national side.
The most exciting part of watching football is finding that new or raw talent and watching that player develop into a world class player. Lille’s Eden Hazard as all the tools to be one of the world’s most exciting players, and at 19 he’s only poised to become better.
At 16 Hazard made the jump from the Belgian pro league to join Ligue 1 side Lille on the back of some impressive performances and trials at the club. Lille scouts pointed out his blinding pace and dribbling skills, they were especially impressed with vision which was far more advanced than other players at that age. It didn’t take him long to join the first team in matches, as he made his debut later that year as a substitute against Nancy. Although he only made three more appearances in that 07-08 year, he helped the youth side took a high finish in the French youth league. Hazard has been a first team regular even since. His early displays were so good that he was called up to the Belgian national senior squad at the tender age of 17. He since has been handed 17 caps and is now regarded as a automatic selection for the team.[picappgallerysingle id=”7756638″]
Hazard combines several key elements that take a footballer from being of average ability and potential to the elite level. First as he’s used mainly as a winger so pace is a key. He’s known throughout Ligue 1 for his blistering pace and ability to pick out a perfect ball. Many football pundits, supporters, and rival managers alike have dubbed Eden the “New Cristiano Ronaldo” for his impressive dribbling skills and nose for goal. However what impresses the majority of the people who watch him is football IQ. He rarely makes a bad decision with the ball, granted he needs to track back a bit more, but he always makes the right decision when it comes to distribution to his teammates. He has made Lille striker Moussa Sow a much better player, so much so he has displaced veteran Pierre Alan Frau as the number 9 at Lille. Sow also leads Ligue 1 with 13 goals, many of them set up by Hazard’s play.
Last season he was named Ligue 1 young player of the year for the 2nd consecutive season. The new season sees Lille at the top of the league before the Christmas break, mainly on the back of his strong performances. This of course leads to all sorts of transfer rumours, especially as we close in on the January transfer window. French football legend Zinedine Zidane was made it clear on a few occasions that he has dropped Hazard’s name at Real Madrid. Zizou mentioned to Canal + a few weeks ago that “It is possible he’ll come to Madrid. What he’s doing to Lille is exceptional.” Although Hazard is linked to a few high profile clubs his best move may be to stay put and help guide Lille to the French title, and automatic Champions’ League qualification.
Whatever his decision; Eden Hazard is on the way to football stardom. When Zidane is calling the player the next great superstar, it’s time to stand up and take notice.