Eden Hazard wins PFA award: Can England keep its best player this time?
In-depth: Eden Hazard was named the PFA Player of the Year, but will he follow many former winners and depart the Premier League?
It was third time lucky for Hazard, who was also on the shortlists for the main prize and the PFA Young Player of the Year awards in each of the previous two seasons.
And although Tottenham striker Harry Kane ran the Belgian close, Hazard was deserving of the award after playing a key role in Chelsea’s Capital One Cup win and inevitable Premier League success.
The pint-sized 24-year-old has netted 18 goals in all competitions for Mourinho’s outfit this season, including a number of vital strikes against the likes of Manchester United.
Eden Hazard shows off his awardEurosport
Hazard’s outstanding campaign has seen the Belgian attract much attention from European giants such as Real Madrid and PSG in recent months, and although the Chelsea star recently committed his long-term future to the Blues, rumours suggest that Hazard could still depart Stamford Bridge in the summer.
Real Madrid and France legend Zinedine Zidane, who is currently in charge of Real Madrid Castilla, recently spoke of his admiration for Hazard, saying: "There are players I keep an eye on and who I like a lot, like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, of course.
"They’re fantastic players, but I like Eden Hazard a lot too. I enjoy everything he does on the pitch.
"I like the way he carries himself, that decisive streak in him and the fact that he’s improving every year. He can still get better too, and I think he’s a big reason why Chelsea are on top of the table."
Eden Hazard celebrates after scoring the second goal for Chelsea from the penalty spot (Reuters)Reuters
WHAT HAZARD SAID
During the interview process following the announcement that he had been named as the PFA Player of the Year, Hazard was quizzed about Real Madrid’s interest, of which he offered only a few words as a response.
This came just 24 hours after the Belgian told Sky Sports that he wasn’t thinking about a move elsewhere. Asked whether he sees his long-term future at Chelsea, he replied: "Why not? I am happy here. I play with big players and the most important thing is I want to win trophies and with this club, it is possible."
WILL HAZARD FOLLOW PREVIOUS WINNERS AND NOW LEAVE THE PREMIER LEAGUE?
In recent years, the two previous winners of the Player of the Year trophy have gone on to leave their club and the Premier League, opting to move to Spain – either joining Real Madrid or Barcelona.
Eden Hazard and Luis Suarez show off their PFA awards (PA Photos)PA Photos
In 2013, Tottenham’s Gareth Bale claimed the award before joining Los Blancos for a world record fee. And in 2014, Liverpool’s Luis Suarez was named as the PFA Player of the Year before departing for Catalunya to join Barca. Cristiano Ronaldo and Thierry Henry are other former winners who have been tempted to Spain's biggest clubs.
It comes as no surprise to see one of the heavyweights of European football reportedly chasing this year’s winner, but Chelsea boss Mourinho, in an attempt to fend off any interest, recently slapped an eye-watering price tag on Hazard’s head. He said:
"Do you want a figure? £100 million, plus one of their three best players... No, £100m each leg – £100m each leg because he is very young... If they want him I would be the first to know because of my relationship with the club."
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho and Eden Hazard (Reuters)Reuters
Hazard may well have signed a five-and-a-half year contract extension back in February, but we’ve learnt in the past that means very little. Chelsea are obviously desperate to keep hold of their playmaker – a player who they believe is on par with Ronaldo and Lionel Messi – but the fact that Real Madrid have the spending power to pry Hazard away from Stamford Bridge would certainly worry Mourinho.
The Blues will be encouraged by Hazard’s comments that he is happy in West London, but his rather flippant attempt at committing his future to Chelsea will not instil total confidence in Blues fans. This also comes from a man who last year claimed that he would let his wife decide on his future.
Hazard will almost certainly be playing his football in the Premier League next season, but it’s difficult to imagine him not joining Real Madrid in the future.