We talk a lot about leadership and its perceived absence in the current squad, but perhaps a more accurate take would be that it’s inconsistent rather than completely missing. Case in point: Eden Hazard.
The national team captain of Belgium, who’s had to grow into the role over the last few years and seemed to rise to he challenge during last summer’s World Cup, isn’t given the same role and responsibility at Chelsea, but after the penalty shootout defeat in Sunday’s League Cup final, he showed that some of those qualities may now be second nature.
Here’s carefree Eden’s initial reaction to Raheem Sterling scoring the winning penalty for Manchester City, with the initial individual despair quickly replaced by concern for the team and their spirits. He’s the first Chelsea player to acknowledge Kepa as well.
LEADER | Même dans la défaite, @hazardeden10 reste toujours classe !— Eleven Sports (FR) (@ElevenBE_fr) February 26, 2019
Respect, mon gars ! #CHEMCI pic.twitter.com/ndqfoTBRRQ
Obviously, every leader is different and there are different leadership styles. Some are vocal, some are more quiet. Some lead by example, some lead by talking. Going around shaking hands and consoling teammates after a defeat may or may not make much difference in the grand scheme of things, but it’s definitely an act of leadership.
That doesn’t mean Hazard should be the captain — there are no consensus candidates among the current players, with strong arguments for and against him, Azpilicueta, David Luiz, or Gary Cahill — but one does not need the armband to be a leader. Chelsea used to be a team of strong characters; it’s nice to see someone step up these days every once in a while as well.