Eden Hazard joins Chelsea and the only surprise is that he didn’t choose the Premier League sooner
EDEN Hazard last night appeared to signal his arrival in English football - and perhaps the only real surprise is the Belgian playmaker has not made the move to the bright lights of the Barclays Premier League sooner.
The 21-year-old Lille midfielder, who looks set to join Chelsea having announced on Twitter yesterday evening that he was "signing for the champion's league winner", has reportedly been on the radar of the Premier League's big-hitters - as well as other major clubs around Europe - for some time, and it is easy to see why.
Hazard, born in La Louviere, left Belgium for the youth academy at Lille in 2005 and after signing a professional contract with the French outfit two years later, made his senior debut in November of the 2007-08 season aged 16.
In September of the following campaign the 17-year-old Hazard became the youngest scorer in Les Dogues' history when he netted in a 3-2 win over Auxerre and within two months he had won his first full international cap for Belgium.
He was also handed a contract extension at Lille and finished 2008-09 as the first foreigner to be named France's Young Player of the Year.
He retained that accolade - which no other player has done - in 2009-10, and 12 months later picked up the senior Player of the Year award having helped Lille win the league and cup double.
The club could only manage a third-placed Ligue 1 finish in the campaign which has just ended, but Hazard's progress has shown no sign of letting up, reaching a personal-best tally of 20 goals - including a first-half hat-trick in the season-concluding 4-1 win over Nancy - and once again claiming the Player of the Year gong.
Hazard has only netted twice for his country and is yet to score a goal in the Champions League, but there is little doubt he has achieved a considerable amount in his short career to date and no shortage of expectancy that with a move to a club like Chelsea, he can shine even more brightly in the years to come.
Certainly Joe Cole, the former Blues midfielder who has been playing at Lille on loan from Liverpool, feels Hazard has all the attributes to get to the very top.
Cole told Sky Sports News: "He can do anything.
"He can pass, dribble, shoot, score goals, make goals.
"If he comes to the Premier League he will take time to adjust, but you can put your life on it - he will become a top, top player in the Premier League and maybe one of the best in the world."