Can we finally see Eden Hazard on the scoresheet more often?

Eden Hazard is one of the leading players in world football, but his contributions towards the final third have always been an altercation. However, the Chelsea star is thriving and his numbers are escalating under the management of the new manager Maurizio Sarri. The Italian is using him in a more attacking role which is providing him with more freedom to go forward and bewilder the opponent’s defence.

The Belgian International had a breakthrough season with Lille, notching up 20 goals and registering 16 assists from just 35 games. He attracted many suitors across Europe, but Roberto Di Matteo showed strong interest and acquired the signature of the former Lille forward for a fee of 32 million during the summer of 2012.

The 27-year-old did not need time to settle in at London as he continued to prosper by playing an integral part en route to the Europa League success. Despite the fact that the Belgian was riling up his numbers, it was the Spaniard Juan Mata, who looked blossoming and made 54 goal contributions under Di Matteo and Rafa Benitez until Mourinho decided to ditch him when he took over Chelsea.

Eden Hazard’s numbers started growing gradually under the new manager Jose Mourinho. He created 1.6 chances per game during his first season with the club. With his all-around ability speaking volumes about his intelligence to pick his teammates in the opponent’s box, his dribbling is another key asset. He is perhaps the best player to carry the ball with his feet in Europe after Lionel Messi.

His numbers did not go to a high because Chelsea had three strikers at disposal – Samuel Etoo’, Fernando Torres and Demba Ba. Still, Hazard’s efficiency to team increased swiftly during the 2013/14 season during that particular campaign when he averaged 4.2 dribbles per game and created as high as 1.9 chances per game. Additionally, he went on to score 14 goals and register another 7 assists during that campaign which assisted Chelsea to finish in a Champions League place and just 4 points off the Premier League winners Manchester City.

The subsequent season saw Chelsea sign the current Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa, Cesc Fabregas and Loic Remy to add even more firepower to their roster. On the other side, Liverpool lost their talisman Luis Suarez to Barcelona, and the struggles of Manchester City and Manchester United made the Blues as a clear title contender.

With better players around him, Eden Hazard was able to stamp his authority in this Chelsea’s side, becoming their important player of the squad. Subsequently, his consistent performances saw him win both personally and collectively. He lifted the PFA Player of the year for his consistent performances in the League Cup and Premier League triumph.

Albeit winning two trophies under Mourinho, Chelsea struggled to replicate the same form going into the next season.  The Blues were in the relegation zone during November when Jose Mourinho was shown the exit door for an execrable start to the campaign. He was replaced by Guus Hiddink who spent his second spell as an interim manager for Chelsea.

Hiddink left the club in the hands of Antonio Conte after helping them finish in the top half. Eden Hazard did not enjoy this particular campaign as he went 356 days without scoring and the Blues were trophyless and failed to finish in a European spot.

Under four different managers, the Belgian played as a winger. But, under the former Chelsea manager Antonio Conte, he was playing more centrally as a second striker to Diego Costa. Despite early struggles, the Blues won the Premier League and Hazard played a pivotal part by finding the back of the net on 16 occasions and found his teammates 5 times. The number of assists suggests that he played more as a goalscorer than as a creator.

He attempted 4 dribbles per game, with most of them inside the opponent’s box. Failure to finish in the Champions League place meant Chelsea had to sack their manager Antonio Conte, but Hazard did have a decent season in his bag with 16 goal contributions. But, he did leave the club empty handed, as Hazard scored the winner for Chelsea in the FA Cup final against Manchester United. Ultimately, Conte was replaced by Maurizio Sarri, who nearly won the league with Napoli the last term.

His role has completely changed under the new Chelsea boss. Mateo Kovacic and N’Golo Kante have the potential to drive the ball from the midfield. This has eased his work to only contribute in the final third. He has already scored 7 goals and assisted 4 times this season from just 8 appearances in the league.

His career-best 2.9 chances created per game and 2.6 dribbles per game, it is safe to say that the Belgian is not overloaded with his defensive duties. He averaged at least 0.7 tackles, 0.6 interceptions and 0.5 dribbles per game in the opposition box. However, it has come down three times down for the Belgian who finally looks to rile up numbers in the final third under Sarri.

Out of the 27 goals scored by Chelsea, the Belgian has his hands on nearly half of the goal tally which emphasizes his gravity to the current Blues side.

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