Connect in the back of the net

THIS ARTICLE IS THE FIRST IN MY SERIES OF PLAYER REVIEWS FOR ARSENAL’S POTENTIAL TARGETS!

Eden Hazard is seen as one the hottest properties in world football. The Lille starlet has been called the ‘New Ronaldo, and boy, it’s clear to see why.

Eden first played for Belgium team Royal Stade Brainois, before Lille scouts picked him up whilst he was playing for FC Tubize and he signed a youth contract with the French outfit. Known for his raw pace and technical ability, Eden made the first team squad after signing a professional contract in May 2007. He made his first team debut as a substitute in November 2007 against AS Nancy in a Ligue 1 match. Hazard made three more substitute appearances before being moved back down to Lille’s reserve side for the remainder of the season, where he helped them to a comfortable fifth place in the league.

At the start of the 2008-09 season, new manager Rudi Garcia promoted Hazard back to the full squad and he scored his first goal for Lille the following September. It came in the 88th minute of a league game against Auxerre and, as you can see from the clip below, was an absolute belter. It also made Hazard the youngest goal scorer in the club’s history.

He went on to make 36 appearances and score six goals for the first team that season, after which he became the first foreign player to win the Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year Award.

His form the following season was even better. Hazard scored a brace of important goals against FK Sevojno and Belgian side Genk to help Lille qualify for the group stages of the Europa League. He scored a total of 10 goals in all competitions that season and was nominated for both the Ligue 1 Player and Young Player of the Year Award. He missed out on the former to Lyon striker Lisandro Lopez, but picked up the latter for the second year in a row – becoming the first player ever to do so.

He suffered his first major career setback in the 2010-11 season, when indifferent form led to a spell on the Lille bench and criticism about his physical and mental state from Belgian coach Georges Leekens. It seemed to have a positive effect, however: Hazard was resurgent in the second half of the season, and went on to score a dozen goals – including the only one in the Coupe de France Final win over Nancy. The man himself certainly thinks those earlier dressings-down had a hand in his revival: “I learned a lot during those few weeks, mentally speaking. And since then things have got better.”

After working his way through Belgium’s various youth teams, Hazard made his full international debut in November 2008, coming on as a 67th minute sub against Luxembourg. He’s gone on to make 19 appearances for his country.

This guy has been named the ‘New Ronaldo’, is the future of the Belgium National Team, and is one of the most highly sought after players not only in Europe, but in the world. One could only imagine what he could do in an Arsenal shirt.

Written by Craig Player

Follow him on Twitter: @c_player42

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