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Chelsea Should Try to Sign Thorgan Hazard – Especially If Eden Leaves

Chelsea Should Try to Sign Thorgan Hazard – Especially If Eden Leaves

Wednesday, 13 February, 2019 - 07:30
Thorgan Hazard and Eden Hazard in Belgium colours before the World Cup in 2018. Photograph: David Ramos/Fifa/Getty Images
London - Eden Hazard
Saturday was a good day for the Hazard family, with both Eden and Thorgan playing decisive roles in victories for their clubs. Eden Hazard scored twice for Chelsea in their 5-0 win over Huddersfield at Stamford Bridge then his younger brother picked up an assist as Borussia Mönchengladbach won 2-0 at Schalke. Both victories were vital, with Chelsea consolidating their place in the top four and Mönchengladbach leapfrogging Bayern Munich to go second in the Bundesliga.

The two games also gave the Hazard brothers a chance to show off their dribbling skills. Eden completed 12 dribbles against Huddersfield, more than any other player has managed in a Premier League match this season; Thorgan did the same in the Bundesliga later in the day, with his total of 11 a record for this season. Such dazzling trickery is not entirely surprising for the elder brother, but Thorgan’s impressive form shows he is catching up with his more famous sibling.

When Chelsea signed Thorgan from Lens in 2012 a few weeks after they had bought Eden from Lille, the move was seen as something of a handout to both players. Thorgan was just a teenager at the time and had not been identified as a potential star like his brother, who no doubt found it easier to settle into life in London with his sibling at the club. That said, Thorgan was shipped out on loan to Belgium and began to show why Chelsea would want him on their books. He enjoyed two impressive seasons at Zulte Waregem in the Belgian Pro League before another loan move took him to Borussia Mönchengladbach.

Thorgan’s first season in the Bundesliga was enough for both parties to make a call on the youngster’s future. Despite starting just seven of his 28 league appearances, Thorgan set up seven goals (an assist every 129 minutes) and convinced Mönchengladbach to part with £7.2m for his services. Chelsea had signed the winger for just £450,000 three years earlier, so a mark-up of 1,500% looked like great business in 2015, but his market value has now skyrocketed.

Thorgan’s influence has increased every season in Germany and he is now the star of the show in Mönchengladbach’s surprising tilt for the title. His average minutes per appearance has risen every year – from 32.3 in 2014-15 to 89.6 this season – and so too has his impact on games. Whereas his big brother showed his class early on, Thorgan has worked hard and improved over time.

Thorgan has overcome a number of hurdles so far in his career. Loan spells are not always easy on young players and he missed half of the 2016-17 campaign with injury. He has also been asked to do a lot more work without the ball than his elder sibling Eden, who tends to be free from defensive duties. As a result, the Chelsea player still comes out on top in the majority of attacking statistics this season, most notably goals (12 in the Premier League for Eden, nine in the Bundesliga for Thorgan) and assists (10 for Eden, eight for Thorgan).

Nevertheless, Thorgan has made huge strides this season. His nine goals in the Bundesliga have come from fewer shots, meaning he has a higher conversion rate (Thorgan has scored with 20.5% of his shots, while Eden has only scored with 18.5% of his). Thorgan’s dribbling – while neither as frequent nor as fluent as his brother’s – has also improved substantially and he has done all of this while making a lot more tackles and interceptions than his elder brother. If given less defensive responsibility, Thorgan would probably be even more effective going forward.

The younger brother is not yet the finished article – he loses the ball too much in the final third and is not as strong as his brother so does not ride tackles as well – but he is still progressing. If Eden leaves Stamford Bridge, his younger brother is an obvious candidate to replace him. As things stand, both Eden and Thorgan are our highest rated players in their respective leagues. Whether or not Chelsea lose one Hazard, bringing another back into their squad looks increasingly logical.

The Guardian Sport

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