©Parth Shah, May 23, 2012

Why no team should buy Eden Hazard this summer

Eden Hazard - A name that makes up 60% of all transfer rumours this season. From Manchester to London, all the way to Spain, everyone wants to sign this 21-year old superstar. Few can afford him, and even fewer actually need him. It’s the comparisons with Messi and Ronaldo which are making people sit up and take notice.

There is no denying the talent Hazard possesses. 50 goals and 38 assists in 192 appearances in all competitions for Lille in the past 5 years are proof enough that the man is talented. But he has been in a comfortable atmosphere under the watchful eyes of manager Rudi Garcia for the entirety of his professional senior career. There is no person in the world who can guarantee the same goal-scoring returns from Hazard in a world-class team, other from himself. And for me, that is where the doubts start creeping in.

Lille has set a price tag of £35 million on the Belgium international and his wage demands are said to be in the region of £200,000-a-week. Now, that is big, big money for someone who has not yet proven himself at the highest levels of European football; never mind World Football.

© AP Images

From the interviews, quotes and snippets available, it seems Mr. Hazard (a career as a superhero awaits him, should he drop out of football) already believes he has made it to the big leagues and belongs there. He is putting enormous pressure on his young shoulders; pressure that will only grow with every passing minute he does not score a wonder-goal or wow the audience with a touch of genius.

Stronger, more experienced pros than him have crumbled; unable to handle the expectation of the crowds. Is he prepared for such a challenge, mentally and emotionally? Is he going to act like a petulant child if things don’t work out in his favour? Can he live with the fact that he will be subbed off if he is having a bad day? I believe these are the questions that potential buyers need to ask him/his agent, not “How much do we need to offer you for your signature?”

And where do you draw the line as far as his wages are concerned? If you sign a 21-year old at £200,000-a-week on a 4-year contract, there are 2 major scenarios that could play out in the duration of his contract.

a) He settles down quickly, proves his potential and his worth. The rumour mill will start again, and the team might be put in a position where they would have to come up with an improved contract, or risk losing him to another suitor.

b) He doesn’t settle down quickly, has a poor season, disciplinary issues rear their head and the club is forced into selling him. But with those enormous wages, how many teams will actually be able to afford him? Two? Three, maybe?

The thing about genius is that it is unpredictable. Normal rules don’t apply to players like Ronaldo or Messi, because they are abnormal (in the best possible sense); aberrations in a world of simple, decent footballers. That is why they are geniuses or “world-class”, as is the norm in today’s football lingo.

There is always an inherent risk for a club when it signs a player for ridiculous sums. In Ronaldo’s case (£80 million), those risks were offset by his track record in England; Ronaldo was already proven material.

Eden Hazard is not, yet. Maybe it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to not sign him this summer. Let him play one more season in Ligue 1 and shine for Belgium. And take it from there. There are plenty of other fish in the sea to focus all your attention on one elusive fellow.

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