A couple Eden Hazard things of note today as Chelsea depart for Madrid and tomorrow night’s big Champions League clash against Atletico Madrid.
First, there’s an interview Eden did with France Football at some point in the recent past, but which was published today and has started making the rounds as sensationally as possible, with Hazard’s jokey quote about tracking back (or not tracking back, as it were) chosen as the most clicky point from it.
“You don’t need that (bursts out laughing). You can write that. Don’t tell Conte, but you can write that it’s pointless. If you defend too much, you tire yourself out. If I’ve spent the whole game defending, forget about me being useful after the 60th minute, and I’m quite fit.
“There are people who are meant to defend, while others are there to attack. After that, it’s up to the manager. If that’s what he wants, you need to do it, otherwise you sit on the bench. I defend too. I don’t like it, but I have to with Antonio (Conte).”
-Eden Hazard; source: France Football via Sport Witness
If you’ve been living under a rock for the last five years, Hazard’s preference for not tracking back could be news to you.
Hazard’s quote comes from the context of describing a “perfect” player, or in this case a perfect player who is perfect in all things except tracking back. For Hazard, that means the vision of Fabregas, the heading of Benteke (Hazard’s good friend, obviously), the free kicks of Christian Eriksen, the leadership of John Terry, the finishing of Luis Suarez (interesting pick, that), the movement of Benzema, the physicality of Cristiano Ronaldo, and the “class” of Iniesta (couldn’t pick Zidane since he’s not playing anymore). Hazard picks one of his own qualities, too, his “speed” over the first 5 yards — what we would normally call “quickness” instead.
Should’ve added the tracking back of Willian or Edinson Cavani, but Hazard’s gonna Hazard and that’s partly why we love him.
That interview is also used as a framing device for a report from Matt Law of the Telegraph, which brings up Eden Hazard’s contract extension, of which we last heard some three months ago. The broken ankle over the summer probably didn’t help with those negotiations, but if we read between the lines of Law’s report — which offers no hints as to when this might actually get done — it would appear that Chelsea are challenging Hazard to essentially prove his worth for the potential massive rise in wages from £200k to £300k per week.
Chelsea optimistic Hazard will sign a new £300k-a-week contract as he seeks to make his mark on the Champions League https://t.co/awJG6Bi4JV— Matt Law (@Matt_Law_DT) September 26, 2017
There’s talk of Ballon d’Or and all that jazz once again, which I really wish we’d stop doing, but I suppose when you are one of the best in the game and have the potential to be the very best, it’s something that has to come up — especially with Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo surely ready to stop being otherworldly one of these days, right?
The Telegraph reassures that Hazard remains happy at Chelsea (noting the arrival of Kylian Hazard purely as a favor to Eden), so as we approach the halfway point of the five-year deal he agreed in February 2015, this is the perfect time to get the new extension signed and done with.
We’ll probably need Hazard (or whoever starts) to be at their best on Wednesday night to get a positive result at Atletico. And we’ll undoubtedly need Hazard to be at his best for the rest of the season if we are to challenge for the title once again. The ball, as ever, is in your court, Eden.