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Hiddink: Hazard must have fitness in order to continue the 'beautiful times'

Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Unsurprisingly, Eden Hazard's plight has largely mirrored the downfall of Chelsea this season.  But thanks to his recent injury issues that have limited him to just 30 minutes of match action over the past month, Hazard's season has not really turned a corner like Chelsea's appears to have.  (Assuming we did in fact turn a corner.)

In the meantime, Eden turned 25 and is now entering what's traditionally known as the prime of a footballer's career, especially an attacking player who's been playing for as long as he has.  And while 12 months ago the main debate was whether Hazard can take the next step up and join the uppermost echelon where the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi reside, the question now has become whether he can even rediscover his own previous level, let alone develop into something greater.

For his new manager, it's a question first and foremost of physical fitness, but there's no debate as to the value of the player to the club.

"It's up the club [to decide Hazard's future], but he's a very important player. When he gets his rhythm back - and I hope fully in the upcoming weeks - then he's of big value to Chelsea. He is eager to perform, but the physical fitness must be there."

"He's young. He has three, four, five years still to come. He has proved he can be one of the biggest. For the club, beautiful times can come up from him, and on top of that there is a Euros coming up. It's a beautiful period."

-Guus Hiddink; source: Sky

"The fitness is important for him. If he is fit, then he will be happy, you see that in training, he enjoys it, and now hopefully in a few games he will come to his physical level and then he will be eager to perform."

-Guus Hiddink; source: Chelsea FC

One minor side benefit of his drastic drop in form has been that many of the usual transfer rumors have died away, too.  Still, Real Madrid remain big in the narrative and a big-money transfer will probably remain a possibility as long as he wears Chelsea blue.  Eventually, that may come true.  Or it might night.  Regardless, Eden has to first show that he's still capable of his magic-man act (and consistently, too).

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