Chelsea coach Guus Hiddink has described Eden Hazard’s loss of form as the most drastic he has ever seen in the game.
Hazard, voted double Player of the Year last season after lighting up the Premier League with sumptuous skills and explosive pace as Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea won the title, was even rated by Swiss group CIES as the most valuable footballer in the world after Lionel Messi and ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo.
But the Belgian has yet to score a Premier League a campaign fraught with injuries and loss of confidence, much to the bewilderment of the veteran Dutch manager.
“I have seen this before, yes, but not so drastically because he was the No 1 and now he is at the end of a long row of players. That is difficult,” Hiddink said.
“Last year everything was beautiful and this year everything for him is dark. The contrast is huge. Normally you have your beautiful season as he had last season and then of course it is difficult to get a second season like that but not that drastically from what he is experiencing now. I think he has a difficult time.
“There are of course worries if you are the most valuable and best player and then later you are hardly playing.”
The 25-year-old playmaker has been strongly linked with a move to Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid, but Hiddink has warned against sweeping generalisations.
“One expresses himself in a different way to others so you must be careful on judgement when someone is a bit more introverted that he does not have the will to play and the other is expressing himself with a lot of emotions,” Hiddink added.
“It is difficult to make a harsh judgement on that in terms of commitment. The next period will be very interesing for him, not just now but the Euros. Will he be at Chelsea next season? He has a contract for more years, what can I say? I think that’s something for the upcoming management.”
Italy boss Antonio Conte takes over at Stamford Bridge in the summer having signed a three-year contract, and he already has his hands full with a decision on Hazard’s future.