Hazard joins Chelsea with target on his back
At long last, Eden Hazard is English Premier League bound, and I say that not as a fan who is waiting to see him tackle the most exciting league in the world but more as a purveyor of footballing tabloids that has grown very tired of his endless flirtations.
Hazard and the people he surrounds himself with have played the press like a Flemish Harp by using them to show a bit of shoulder to virtually every big club in England.
In doing so the sought after winger has created hype and driven his salary skyward, but in the process has become the most despised man in English football. All this despite the fact he is yet to put a studded boot to ball in The Old Dart.
The murmurs began as far back as 2009 and as is usually the case with young players from the French league, it was Arsene Wenger who was reported to have shown interest in the Belgian ‘wunderkind’.
Over the past season the murmurs have become certainties screamed from the terraces of not just the Emirates but also White Heart Lane, Etihad Stadium and Old Trafford. All these clubs, at one point or another, were made to think they were a very good chance of landing their Lille saviour who was practically a certainty to become the biggest Belgian hit in England since Tesco launched its Waffle Maker.
But it was Chelsea who scuppered the deal which topped off a pretty good month for the London club. Roman Abramovich landed his man for a staggering £100,000 a week after tax (50 percent tax rate on all earnings over 150,000 p.a. in the UK).
That immediately puts Hazard up there with the big boys in terms of the number of portraits of Queen Elizabeth he’ll have in his pocket, so it could be argued that it was a successful move playing the clubs off against each other.
Maybe it has maximised his earnings, but at what cost?
As well as incurring the wrath of every football fan who supports a decent sized club in England, Hazard has inadvertently lumped a massive amount of big-money-move-pressure on himself.
The added strain and microscopic analysis that follows players involved in such expensive deals has been too much for the likes of Torres, Veron and co to deal with at Chelsea, and they were all men with far more experience than the young Belgian.
Hazard also tried to tried to fool us with the idea he was picking a team for the right reasons and not just for who wrote the largest cheque. You know, footballing reasons and presumably which club had the most noble record for nursing injured baby seals back to full health.
“The decision will depend on the amount of play I would see and the position where I would play. That will be a consideration when I decide on my club,” Hazard informed us via the ever expanding group of microphones that followed him around constantly.
But as The Guardian’s Fiver Team so clearly pointed out, Chelsea don’t even have a manager at the present time, so just who could be giving Hazard assurances about exactly where or how regularly he’ll play? His noble facade was shown to be as transparent as Pamela Anderson’s wardrobe, unless of course, Abramovich has decided to do his coaching badges and have a crack.
But the worst part of this whole debacle is that Hazard has taken to every sports stars new favourite medium, Twitter, to go about cryptically annoying football fans 140 characters at a time.
He finally put us all out of our misery when he tweeted: “good afternoon guys. i made up my mind. see you later. Thanks.”
But in his haste, presumably accidentally, Eden omitted exactly which club had offered to pay him the most money, I mean, which club he had decided to join.
Then, a mere nine hours later, it came when Hazard tweeted: “I’m signing for the champion’s league winner.” Yet again the name of the club was missing, but by this stage we could all do the math.
The fact he couldn’t simply state, “I’m joining Chelsea” meant the LeBron James comparisons began to come thick and fast. Whilst there was slightly less hype surrounding where Hazard would end up, the similarities in their transfer sagas remain and there are few that doubt James does not severely regret his decision to nationally broadcast his “decision”.
Since LeBron told the world he was “taking his talents to South Beach” he has gone from an extremely popular figure in the game to the most intensely scrutinised and polarising athlete to ever tread the hardwood.
The where-will-he-sign-hype instilled such high expectations in Miami fans, that James even suffered some backlash from his own supporters after he failed to bring home the title last season. Not to mention the unbridled elation from all the non-Heat fans and tall poppy slayers who had a hopeful eye on his failure.
As the most poignant of our modern day poets, Vanilla Ice, put it, “Anything less than the best is a felony.” And if James fails to raise the trophy again this season, he’ll be sentenced to another off-season of being given a hard time.
You would have thought that one of Hazard’s advisers may have given him the heads up on how it all worked out for King James, as even the most fickle NBA follower knows that he ended up with a good whack of ESPN Special-over-hyped-soufflé on his face.
But Hazard has decided to tread a similar path and it is tough to see the neutrals cheering him on or wishing him well.
One thing is for certain, the likes of Ryan Shawcross, Joey Barton and Nigel de Jong will be lining up to give the much hyped Hazard a proper Premier League welcome.