It's been a frustrating season, to say the least, for Chelsea, Chelsea players, Chelsea fans, Chelsea managers, Chelsea kit men, Chelsea doctors, Chelsea anything, and Chelsea everything. Chief among all frustrations has been the massive drop in form of Eden Hazard, last season's Player of the Year not just for Chelsea but for the entire Premier League.
Other than a few promising glimpses around November-December, just before Mourinho's sacking, Hazard has looked slow, ineffective, and perhaps even unmotivated. And then injuries hit, too, for just about the first time in his career -- remarkable that it's taken this long, considering how often he gets kicked -- and have restricted him to just 10 starts since Hiddink's taken over.
In this environment, the continuing transfer rumors to Real Madrid or PSG or wherever else, even though they've been debunked more times than I can count, just keep adding to the frustration. Hazard himself doesn't seem the most PR savvy person (especially without an agent or other such influencers around him), he's reserved and shy and private. he tends to do fewer media interviews than most, so when things such as shirt swaps get blown out of proportion, he just lets them happen.
But, here's a quote from a recent interview with Antenne Centre TV that should leave no doubt about Eden's commitment to the Chelsea cause.
In response to a query about the nonsense rumor that he had signed for Real Madrid for 32m this weekend, Hazard categorically declared his desire to return to full fitness and to do so with Chelsea, while reminding everyone that he does indeed have four more years left on his contract.
"I don't know who's saying that, but it's not true. At the moment, I'm at Chelsea. First, I have to finish the season and I still have a contract for four years. I'm there, and I'm currently feeling good over there. I want to be on the pitch as soon as possible. With Chelsea."
-Eden Hazard; source: ACTV via Kristof Terreur
Not much wiggle-room in those words beyond the usual "at the moment" and "currently" qualifiers, which probably should not be read into too much. I think it's safe to say that Hazard is ours, and will be ours for the foreseeable future.
And that's fantastic news. He may have had a rough season, but giving up on him already would be a mistake.