Eden Hazard prepares for perfect Chelsea send-off in Europa League final as Arsenal rue contract missteps

first_imgEden Hazard prepares for perfect Chelsea send-off in Europa League final as Arsenal rue contract missteps It all started with a tease that Antoine Griezmann would have been proud of. After dropping numerous hints about his future in the early summer of 2012, Eden Hazard made his big revelation shortly after Chelsea’s miraculous Champions League final win over Bayern Munich by saying: ‘I’m signing for the Champions League winner.’Should things go Chelsea’s way against Arsenal on Wednesday, Hazard’s final contribution after seven stellar years at Stamford Bridge could be to bow out as a Europa League winner, with a move to Real Madrid expected to go through at some point this summer.AdvertisementAdvertisementReal’s president Florentino Perez has never been a shy, retiring type and his comments that the club ‘have been trying to make Hazard a Real Madrid player for several years,’ suggests that there will be movement once the dust has settled on the Europa League final.Unlike Thibaut Courtois, whose Chelsea legacy was indelibly tainted courtesy of a protracted switch to the Bernabeu last August, Hazard will at least leave the club on good terms following what has been his best individual campaign in English football.ADVERTISEMENTHazard was Chelsea’s leading goalscorer (16) in the Premier League, ranked top in the division for assists (15) and dribbles completed (137) and second for chances created (98), while also becoming the first player in the club’s history to scoop an award hat-trick – Player of the Year, Player’s Player of the Year and Goal of the Season. Pulisic will play at Chelsea next season after bidding farewell to Borussia Dortmund (Picture: Getty)Chelsea’s level-headed approach to replacing Hazard once it became apparent that he would not be signing an extension to a contract set to expire in 2020 contrasts starkly with their opponents’ recent bungling over their star players’ futures.Arsenal found themselves in a similar position to Chelsea just over a year ago as they faced up to the prospect of losing one of their prized assets and creator-in-chief when Mesut Ozil’s contract at the Emirates was running down.Having just lost Alexis Sanchez to Manchester United – a deal that in hindsight has worked out rather tremendously for the Gunners – Arsenal’s board were loathed to lose the other ‘world-class’ talent in their ranks in the form of Ozil and promptly handed him a club-record deal worth £350,000 per week. This despite the lack of real interest in him elsewhere.AdvertisementAdvertisementArsenal’s generous deal to Ozil smacked of desperation at the time and has subsequently proven to be more of an expensive error in judgement than an inspired decision. CommentShare this article via facebookShare this article via twitter1.4kShares By Oliver Young-MylesWednesday 29 May 2019 7:01 amShare this article via facebookShare this article via twitterShare this article via messengerShare this with Share this article via emailShare this article via flipboardCopy link1.4kShares Eden Hazard won the Premier League Playmaker of the Year award given to the player with the most assists (Picture: Getty)Not even the most diehard of Chelsea supporters could begrudge him his dream move to Real Madrid after a season in which he almost single-handedly dragged the club to a third-place finish in the Premier League.When Hazard joined Chelsea for £32m from Lille, he was the poster boy for the club’s regeneration fixed around a clutch of promising young players. The club finds itself in a similar state of flux as he prepares his departure with an ageing squad in need of freshening up.Chelsea have already attempted to plug the gaping hole in their squad that Hazard’s exit will leave by signing a like-for-like replacement in the form of 20-year-old Christian Pulisic from Borussia Dortmund and making fresh attempts to tie 18-year-old academy asset Callum Hudson-Odoi to a new contract.Although Chelsea are set to enter into a period of post-Hazard uncertainty, the club have at least moved to minimise the effect of his sale through placing their trust in youth and likely extracting a nine-figure fee for his services with Real set to compensate them for their loss to the tune of £100m. Unai Emery and Mesut Ozil haven’t always seen eye-to-eye at Arsenal (Picture: Getty)Part of the reason that Unai Emery will be forced to wheel and deal in the transfer market is due to Ozil’s wages burning through Arsenal’s coffers and quite simply since signing the deal, the German playmaker has not offered enough bang for his buck.A return of five goals and two assists in 24 Premier League, not to mention the embarrassing situation earlier in the season when Ozil was repeatedly dropped to the bench or out of the matchday squad entirely by his manager, has shown that the club’s outlay hasn’t been justified.Handing him such a lucrative deal just a few months before appointing a new manager who has since struggled to fit him into his system further raises question marks over the decision making of Arsenal’s board members.There is also a growing sense that the club made their power play move for the wrong playmaker with Aaron Ramsey set to leave after 11 years to join Juventus for free after Arsenal took the unprecedented step of withdrawing a contract offer to him in September.The Welshman has played over 400 minutes fewer than Ozil in the Premier League this season but has scored just one goal less and registered three times as many assists. Raul Sanllehi, Arsenal’s Director of Football, has accepted that losing Ramsey and the manner of his departure has been regrettable. Aaron Ramsey was in tears after his final match at the Emirates (Picture: Getty)‘The position of the club, of losing a player of the quality — not only the football quality but the human quality and club identification — of Aaron, we have to avoid that. It’s not correct for us,’ he said last week.AdvertisementWhereas Hazard is set to leave Chelsea on a high and recoup the club a hefty fee, Arsenal are lumbered with a high-earning playmaker their manager does not seem to trust and are losing a loyal servant with plenty to offer for absolutely nothing.Should Hazard enjoy the perfect send-off from English football with a win over an opponent he has historically fared well against, it would only go to highlight the mistakes Arsenal have made in keeping Ozil and ushering Ramsey out of the door.Who will win the Europa League final?Chelsea0%Arsenal0%Share your resultsShare your resultsTweet your resultsMore: Arsenal FCArsenal flop Denis Suarez delivers verdict on Thomas Partey and Lucas Torreira movesThomas Partey debut? 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