Eden Hazard, the ultimate talent and an approach to life that we can all get behind

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Kevin De Bruyne, good as always? As the Manchester City machine crushed Brentford 3-1 to finish top, Jamie Carragher – who had just calmed down from the Emirates – thought so. “If you put him in a Liverpool shirt, Liverpool would win the league,” he lamented. “I think he is so dominant.” Comparisons were made with the greats of Our League. “Cantona, Zola, Bergkamp… he’s better than them all,” Carra squeaked, although he left out one name, another famous Belgian, a player possibly even more talented than King Kev. Also only five months older.

Eden Hazard is a bit of a forgotten man, but was one of the very best players of the 2010s. Chelsea won the auction for Lille’s little genius in 2012, and for £30 million they got a player who was the creative inspiration behind two title wins, in 2014/15 under José Mourinho and then in 2016/17 under Antonio Conte. There were nights when he was untouchable, slaloming through defenders, bullets in his boots, his shooting as venomous as De Bruyne’s. It wasn’t all gravy. There were skill issues and public rows with the likes of Mourinho and Conte. Hazard was never the type to analyze for hours or study his opponents on a laptop. He just wanted to play. Conceding a penalty in the 2019 Big Vase final was his last appearance in blue before being lost in the disturbance of the space-time continuum that was recognized by leading physicists as ‘nonsense for Real Madrid’. As with Kaká, the previously stratospheric heights of a brilliant player were negated by being a Bernabéu bust.

Last weekend saw Hazard – £88.3m for 54 games, just four goals – hit back by admitting that, yes, most of what he was accused of was true. But also, you know, stop it, starting with memories of popping up more than a stone overweight. “Now that I’m in Madrid, this might be the last vacation I can take,” he cooed. “And I let myself go like I let myself go every summer. Seven years in England, without a break at Christmas, giving it my all, so if I have three or four weeks of holiday, ‘don’t bother me’, barbecues, rose wine… all that.” Sounds like 5pm on a Friday to Football Daily.

Hazard then spoke on behalf of the little man in the bigger one, saying: “I like to eat and drink with my friends. Dieting is bull [snip – Football Daily Bad Word Ed], it does not work. If you want to play until you’re forty, that’s okay. But I knew I wouldn’t be like that. I always have some champagne in my fridge.” Not for Hazard, the afterlife that greets the football elite: Saudi Arabia, MLS, annoying the locals by not playing in lucrative friendlies. “Leave me with my friends, we’ll go home, play cards, have a beer,” he roared, kissing his most famous teammate. “Cristiano [Ronaldo] is a bigger player than me, but in terms of pure football I honestly don’t think so [he’s better].” Using a beer/burger weighing, the value system of Hackney Marshes, it is difficult to refute that degree of purity.


Join Scott Murray from 7.45pm GMT for an exciting FA Cup fourth round replay of Plymouth Argyle 1-3 Leeds United.


“We had an open-door training. I went out because there was such a big crowd and there was a clinic with the kids, and I wanted to be there and participate. But the truth is that the discomfort was still there and it was very difficult to play. I can understand that people were looking forward to it… For tomorrow, I don’t know, we’ll have to see how it goes in training. We still don’t know if I could do it or not, but I feel much better than a few days ago and really want to play” – after angering the fans in Hong Kong with his no-show for Inter Miami’s friendly match Lionel Messi opens the possibility of featuring in the next stop of their pre-season circus against Vissel Kobe.


I see that MetLife Stadium in New Jersey has been chosen for the 2026 World Cup final (and the inevitable and elaborate closing ceremony that this will entail). The stadium is located just seven miles from downtown Manhattan, where the stars have their luxury apartments. So if Diana Ross needs a penalty coach, I want her to know that I am available to travel from Philadelphia Monday through Friday, and that it is never too early to start practicing” – Justin Kavanagh.

Can I admit that I am one of the woefully misguided West Ham supporters who TV pundits so rightly enjoy chastising our ingratitude and righteousness whenever any reservations are expressed about Moyesaurus? “Be careful what you wish for,” they wisely advise us. Even we poor fools who follow every excruciating minute realize that, in the words of the great man himself, a club like West Ham cannot expect to compete with the resources of Newcastle and… (ahem) Aston Villa, but with 3- 0 losses (and the legendary sixth place) to a barebones outfit like Manchester United really stings. Looking ahead, perhaps a two-year extension will give the Chosen One and Kevin ‘iPad’ Nolan the chance to finally burst all our lovely bubbles and show us that we had, in fact, lived the dream and even made it to heaven (Super Sunday). Time to fade and die? – Brian Withington.

Oh come on, we all know the phrase ‘he’s for real’ (yesterday’s Football Daily letters) comes from Timperley’s finest, Frank Sidebottom. After an extensive search on YouTube (30 minutes), this is the closest. But Frank fans will know” – Colin Sharples.

Re: Memory Lane (yesterday’s Football Daily, full email edition). How nice to see a good, old-fashioned goal actually put into the ground. What about the current fashion where the goals aren’t even properly secured so that when a screamer goes in, the back of the goal comes off the ground? I can’t wait for the day when an absolute bolt of lightning (preferably from any Bournemouth player) topples the entire frame” – Alan Mannings.

Send letters to the.boss@theguardian.com. The winner of today’s daily letter is… Brian Withington, who will receive a copy of The Social One: why Jürgen Klopp was the perfect fit for Liverpool, published by Pitch Publishing. Visit their football bookstore here.

This is an extract from our daily football email… Football Daily. To get the full version, go to this page and follow the instructions.

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