“I think it is goodbye, but in football, you never know.”
The last three words offer a minuscule of hope for Chelsea fans, but even the most optimistic of the bunch will know it’s over. Eden Hazard’s words after the Europa League final were pretty indicative. The Belgian looks set to end his stay at Chelsea which spanned for seven seasons. A move to Spanish giants Real Madrid is on the cards, with only the formalities to sort out. Hazard’s ‘last’ game for Chelsea was a big occasion, and boy did he step up.
The Blues faced Arsenal in the Europa League final in Baku. It was Chelsea’s second final of the season, and the first ended in defeat against Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final. Hazard made sure that another opportunity did not go begging. He scored twice and set up another to lead the Blues to the trophy. Pedro scored from Hazard’s assist to make it 2-0, which gave the Blues comfort. Hazard scored a penalty, and a sumptuous second to wrap up the win for Chelsea.
This was the second Europa League title for Hazard after he won it in his first season at the club. Two Premier League titles have been secured as well in a successful spell at Stamford Bridge for him. It’s safe to say that he played a starring role in both triumphs. In total, he has won six major trophies in his time in London. Along with those, a host of individual accolades have followed. The only thing which has eluded him at Chelsea is a success in the Champions League.
In 2014, Chelsea reached the semi-finals in the competition where they lost to Atletico Madrid. After that, the Blues have crashed out in the Round of 16 thrice. The Europa League triumph must have felt good, but Hazard must have his eye on the more prominent European trophy. Going to Real Madrid will undoubtedly enhance his chance of doing just that.
Even if Hazard departs, Chelsea fans will not have much to moan about. The Belgian has been a thorough professional during his time at Stamford Bridge. On the pitch, he has recorded 110 goals and 81 assists in 352 pitch. Off the pitch, he has been a well-liked person in the dressing room as well as the fanbase. No one at Chelsea will want him to leave, but they can bid goodbye to him with gratitude, albeit with a slight moan.
Zinedine Zidane – a childhood hero of Hazard’s – will be waiting for him at the Bernabeu. The Frenchman has a rebuilding job ahead of him, and Hazard will be key to that. The Belgian has decided for his career, something which is totally within his right. His highest Ballon d’Or finish has been 8th and bettering that will also be likely in Madrid. At 28, he is not getting older. Chelsea enjoyed seven great years of his Eden Hazard’s magic, but he needs greener pastures now.