After playing a ball with his three brothers and their father in the backyard of their parental home, these were the moments Eden Hazard longed for as a child.
The circumstances had indeed been different. It is unlikely that the Baku site had in mind and mini-Hazard had imagined a raucous stadium with a serenade of its name, rather than an audience of empty seats, Amstel employees and suitable members of the & # 39; football family & # 39 ;.
But when European finals entered the field, this was almost perfect for Hazard.
Eden Hazard bowed the big way by scoring twice in the Europa League triumph
In what seemed to be his last appearance in Chelsea, he sent the Blues to European glory
In the run-up to an impending transfer to Real Madrid, Hazard threw himself grandly at Chelsea. While Chelsea took Arsenal apart and scored three goals in sixteen minutes, Hazard was at the center of everything. He put on a perfect pass for Pedro & # 39; s second, dropped Petr Cech on the ground in converting a penalty and then ran into the resistance.
In exchange with Olivier Giroud, the attacker with whom he is so nicely in contact, Hazard released the Frenchman into the penalty area. Never standing still, Hazard slipped into the penalty area, received Giroud & # 39; s dinked return and slotted into the finish. It was a joyous, fantastic attacking football and the spirit of Hazard encapsulated in a blinding moment.
& # 39; When I am on the field at Stamford Bridge, Old Trafford, Anfield, & # 39; says Hazard, & # 39; it's like I'm in the garden with my brothers, I just think so. & # 39;
What a loss he will be for Chelsea. What a loss he will be for English football.
Eden Hazard is plagued by his teammates after scoring the third goal from the penalty spot
The motivation for Hazard's departure is now quite clear. His stratospheric ambitions cannot be matched by his current employers. Hazard wants the most important medals, both for his club and individually. While the stars of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are fading, he sees himself as the best of the rest. With that in mind, this was a great audition.
His wanderlust attracts him to Real Madrid and the reality of life at Chelsea pushes him to the exit door. Hazard sees a club whose manager is about to walk to Juventus and Maurizio Sarri's successor is likely to get a ban on the transfer market. Owner Roman Abramovich, present at a competitive Chelsea competition this season for the first time in Baku, is now more reluctant to spend and will punish Hazard's transfer to protect the club's finances.
The dilemma is not just off-the-field. On the eve of this competition, Sarri hinted that Hazard had outgrown his & # 39; s colleagues. The Italian said: & # 39; He is a pleasure during the competition. Sometimes it is a problem during the week because he is a talent and sometimes he gets bored during training because everything is really easy for him. & # 39;
Eden Hazard sealed the win by scoring the fourth goal past Arsenal keeper Petr Cech
Certainly, Hazard was the man who called this opportunity from ordinary to extraordinary.
Yet he sees the limitations. In seven years at the club, Chelsea has only once reached the quarterfinals of the Champions League. Never mind conquering Europe, Chelsea struggling to rule their own city.
Hazard said: & # 39; The big difference is that they (Chelsea) have to win to go to the Champions League. If you play for Chelsea, you want to be the best in London. Tottenham in the final of the Champions League, that's terrible. If we (had to) lose against Arsenal, that is a disaster. & # 39;
Hazard's aspirations go beyond capital gains, but for all his fabulous talent there is no certainty that he will shine on a raised platform. He only has to watch Philippe Coutinho's decline in Barcelona to see that.
Hazard was embraced by Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri after his replacement in the 89th minute
Hazard, for his part, is the next 29 and a player of his speed and dexterity has only two years to go at the highest level. He is able to spend these nights, but he must step up his game in a ruthless Spanish environment as he approaches his thirties and uncovers a new level of consistency.
In the Premier League this season, Hazard did not leave home this season against a top six. If one criticism has to be made, the Belgian Chelsea has rarely lifted during the most difficult assignments. So this was another sign of maturity, although the second half of the show was not entirely predictable.
Indeed, much of the first half of this final completely passed him by. In a game that started at a testimonial pace, Hazard was one of three Chelsea players who tried to chop back in the first six minutes. While the game was meandering, inspiration was rare. In the 26th minute there was a blind salvo with backward lean in the room for nobody in particular.
But when Chelsea settled, he slowly came to life. There was a beautiful movie to unlock Emerson Palmieri. Then, in the second period, he reminded Chelsea why they worship him and why Real Madrid will move heaven and earth to sign him.
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