We've now had the privilege of bearing witness to Eden Hazard at Chelsea for eighteen months. We've seen him go from a serial Twitter trolling transfer teaser to an undisputed unplayable untouchable. We've seen him go from backheel tripper to dribbling master. We've seen him score howitzers from 40 yards and we've seen him make the perfectly weighted through ball. Sublime flicks and fancy tricks - when Hazard's on his game, life is good at the Garden of Eden. And all that, all that is just just the beginning.
"He's very strong physically, has fantastic stamina, strength and speed. And mentally it has clicked. He knows where he has to cover, close down areas. When players know what have to do it's easy and he's doing that. I can't expect him to be match-winner every game. I can't put that pressure on a winger, who finds himself far from the decision areas. But we are very happy with him."
Game-changing offense AND game-saving positioning and defense. That's the "evolution" of Hazard we've seen this season. The next form of the now 23-year-old superstar.
"He was not voted the worst, but was known as one of the worst trainers...
Remember those stories of Hazard's supposed lack of effort in training? It turns out that they weren't so much wrong, but just a few months late (which, it turns out, does make them wrong). Sorry, Neil!
...now he is a good professional in training. He has improved in every aspect. He works very hard for the team, shows initiative, doesn't disappear and wants to be influential all game. He's the kind of player we want."
-Jose Mourinho; source: Telegraph
And in case you had any doubt, the credit for all that goes to Mourinho (and the player of course).
Hazard has changed after a series of "conversations, feedback, demanding more, showing the right way. Even if not the right way, the way he has to follow," said his manager.
I've been to the Garden of Eden and all I got was a lousy wondergoal. But now, now I would get to witness a player worth "two or three times" what Chelsea paid.