Hello all, here I am, back again for another update on our young starlet Thorgan Hazard. We all know Thorgan was loaned for a second successive season to Belgian runners-up Zulte-Waregem. Of course many of you would only know Zulte-Waregem through Thorgan and it would be fair to say that any non-Belgian could easily overlook the club.Undeniably a mid-table club; the side finished a whopping 13th in 2012 and 11th the year before that.
Thorgan was certainly not the only catalyst to the club’s change of fortune but he certainly brought some much needed flow to a very mid-table team. Ending his 2012/13 season with a very decent 5 goals and 10 assists, he also earned his first senior international call up against the USA. It seemed that Chelsea gambled and won when buying Thorgan (for Eden?).
The transfer season in full flow, I was disappointed when Thorgan returned to Zulte-Waregem instead of going to Anderlecht, the leading figure in Belgium football. Anderlecht has always been the strongest club in Belgium and was also guaranteed Champions League football. It would have been a riskier move and Thorgan’s position would not have been guaranteed at first but I trusted he would step up to the job. Zulte-Waregem, on the other hand, had one great season; could they do it again? I wasn’t sure.
The opening day of the Jupiler Pro League began on a strong note. Matched against Lierse, Thorgan was guaranteed to play the game. After assisting one and scoring one, he was deservedly entitled the man of the match award but storm clouds were brewing and the following weeks were nothing if not tenuous.
Firstly, odd circumstances (involving agents) granted Thorgan the captaincy instead of Davy de Fauw. It did not last, as Thorgan acted like the gentleman we all know he is, avoided any possible conflict with teammates and fans; and handed the captaincy back to Zulte-Waregem’s version of Frank Lampard. Thorgan should not have been put in this situation and we should be glad that he, himself, defused the situation and avoided a nightmare.
Secondly, evidently destabilized, Zulte-Waregem was heartily smashed by PSV on an aggregate score of 5-0. Hopes of two Hazard's in the Champions leagues were dashed. To makes matters even worse, the ensuing draw against Apoel Nicosia for Europa League qualifications wasn't the easy draw Zulte-Waregem might have hoped for.
One could be forgiven in thinking that this time around: life may not be so rosy.
Although they won one and drew the other, the following two matches were dull affairs; Thorgan himself was less than scintillating and Zulte-Waregem had to turn things around.
And Thorgan provided…
He scored two against Mons. He assisted one on the away trip to Apoel Nicosia and then another when Apoel came to Belgium thereby ensuring qualification to the Europa League group stages.
Was he done? Of course he wasn’t… Let’s look at the stats here: ten matches into the calendar year, Thorgan Hazard has now equaled and improved his tally of 5 goals with 7 goals. Better yet, he has also assisted 7 of his team’s 28 goals. He has therefore been directly involved in 50% percent his team’s 28 goals: assisting 25 percent and scoring the other 25. Is that all? Sure isn’t! He’s won the man of the match award on four different occasions and player of the week twice.
Thorgan’s been in splendid form and his statistics are demonstrating that for a second consecutive season, Chelsea has done the right thing for the young player. He is evidently stepping out of Eden’s shadow, he’s a fan favorite, he is scoring and he’s notching assists. What more could we want from the Belgian?
Intelligence and maturity? Well that’s no issue, he smartly handed the armband back to the true captain (he may be the best player but should the best player be the captain?). He also understands that if Kevin De Bruyne isn’t going to be selected, he won’t be either. So he doesn’t want to make the jump back to Chelsea too soon.
"Chelsea people regularly come to Waregem to analyse my situation. They ask me how I feel, tell me about my matches. I really feel that Chelsea believe in me. The proof of this was that the English did not want to sell me to Anderlecht or Genk [in the summer]. I also had a good discussion with Jose Mourinho. I did not know how to behave in front of him. He immediately put me at ease though and explained that he watched the title-decider between Anderlecht and Zulte Waregem. This proves that he follows me."
Judging by former players attitude towards the club (Joe Cole, Pizarro and Meireles; who all spoke glowingly of Chelsea despite clear success in other major clubs) : Chelsea seems to take great care of their players and Hazard’s recent comments seem to reflect a similar situation.
In conclusion, American History X taught me to always finish essays with a quote and therefore so will I…
"With great power comes great responsibility" Uncle Ben
And by god, the 20 year old is responsible for Zulte-Waregem meteoric rise to the Belgium top three. As of today, he is not only the fourth best scorer in the league but also the best passer; every day he’s looking more like the best prospect of his age in Belgium.
You are now sufficiently informed to enjoy the sample of his man of the match performance against Anderlecht in which he assisted 3 and scored 1
Zulte-Waregem vs. Anderlecht 4-3 | 01-09-2013 (via /Football)