Skip to content

Eden Hazard and (maybe) Hulk: Chelsea makes their play for third place

May 28, 2012, 4:41 PM EST

source:

Before we get to the summer’s most anticipated European soccer signing, allow me to give you a brief synopsis of the day on Twitter: People complain the entire day about mixed messages from (soon to be former) Lille awesome-o Eden Hazard (the word “troll” is prominently used); Hazard finally announced (above) and people refuse to believe him (maybe he means any all-time winner); some of the least funny jokes ever ensue; Lebron James comparisons begin.

As a peripheral member of the mainstream media, I offer this: We are not funny, but we wish we were. On days like this, Twitter is no more useful than sitting at a local bar at 9 p.m. after the editors at your local rag take solace in alcohol (or maybe that was just my experience as an editor).

Now, the news:

source: Getty ImagesHazard to Chelsea: Spectacularly good talent set for mildly surprising move

Eden Hazard seems intent on joining Chelsea. After over year’s worth of speculation linking the Belgian wunderkid to the club, “the champion’s league [sic] winner” beat out Manchester City and Manchester United to sign the best player in Ligue 1.

Some background: Hazard was much sought after last year but said he would give then-league champions Lille one more year. In the middle of the season he said he would move to England, with the two Manchesters thought well-positioned to get his signature. Chelsea, however, went and won Champions League and (more importantly) secured their spot in next year’s tournament. And London’s only a two hour flight to Brussels.

City supposedly offered Hazard a salary of over $18 million per year. United’s offer wasn’t close, but the fact that they stayed in the race showed Hazard’s interests went beyond money. Expect Chelsea’s wages to fall between City’s offer and the near-$12 million the Red Devils put forth.

How good is this guy? Really good. The final transfer fee could end up anywhere between $38 and $62 million (depending on the details and how those details are reported).  The season before last (2010-11), he posted seven goals and 10 assists in Ligue 1, winning player of the year. This year, he had 20 goals and 15 assists. Obviously, he won player of the year again.

He increased his goalscoring by nearly 200 percent the year after being voted the league’s best player. That, in addition to the demand generated by the three pursuing clubs, have driven both the wages and transfer fee.

Where will he play for Chelsea? Anywhere in the front four, though he’ll probably settle in on the left. In the André Villas-Boas-era, that was Juan Mata’s spot, but since Mata has been deployed centrally. Though Hazard can play through the middle, he’s not a Premier League number nine, nor is he likely to see time on the right after Hulk arrives in London.

Incredible Verdão: Hulk could cash in on name, move to Chelsea

Oh, did I mention Hulk? That’s right. Speculation has reached a boiling point surrounding Porto’s fortunately nicknamed striker, a man who has been linked with Chelsea for longer than Hazard. He was also linked with a lol-tastic, $80 million bid from Russia’s Anzhi Makhachkala – the same team that bought Samuel Eto’o.

No, this one is nowhere as certain as Hazard’s move, so everything below is pure speculation, but …

Who knows how much Hulk will cost, but the prices floating around seem more linked with his name than his play. Those prices: Sometimes you’ll see numbers far north of $50 mllion.

The Brazilian forward is a very good player but probably not one of the top 20 strikers in the world; however, he’s almost always cited by rumors as being an elite capture. He’s not.

Hulk has a thunderous left foot, has scored 57 goals in two years for Porto, but there are some questions. He plays as a right forward but doesn’t project as a very good winger. Despite his size (a barrel chested 5’11”), he does not play as a strong number nine. His production also dipped after Porto sold Radamel Falcao, yet he’s likely to be very expensive (at least, in terms of transfer fee).

Ideally, you would have a right back who can provide width while Hulk cuts onto his left foot. Branislav Ivanovic is not that guy, but Ramires overlapping from midfield? That could work.

Hulk should be a good Premier League player. But you don’t pay $50 million for a good Premier League player.

Despite Hulk’s shortcomings (and the high price Chelsea’s likely to pay for them), Chelsea is a much-improved team, should they acquire him and Hazard. It’s not enough to catch City or a healthy United, but it is enough to distance them from Arsenal or Spurs …

Provided they hire a coach.

Latest Posts
  1. Europa League roundup: Tottenham, Liverpool out; Everton, La Liga sides advance

    Feb 26, 2015, 5:05 PM EST

    Romelu Lukaku, Everton FC Romelu Lukaku, Everton FC

    The Premier League’s nightmare week in European competition continued on Thursday.

  2. Besiktas 1-0 (1-1) Liverpool: Arslan makes, Lovren misses final PK as Reds go out of Europe

    Feb 26, 2015, 3:44 PM EST

    Atiba Hutchinson, Joe Allen AP

    It took kicks to settle the UEFA Europa League tie between Besiktas and Liverpool after both clubs won 1-0 home legs.

  3. Fiorentina ousts Tottenham from the Europa League with 2-0 win at the Stadio Artemio Franchi

    Feb 26, 2015, 2:59 PM EST

    FBL-EUR-C3-TOTTENHAM-FIORENTINA Getty Images

    The shots may’ve been even, but Spurs had 2/3 possession for much of the night.

  4. Scottish teen star gets in trouble for throwing muffins at McDonald’s

    Feb 26, 2015, 2:36 PM EST

    Hearts v Hibs - Scottish Championship Getty Images

    Cummings’ manager is backing him up, too, and the Scotland U-19 forward has 11 goals in 23 matches for Hibs this season.

  5. Strike season? Real Salt Lake owner calls free agency “go nowhere conversation”

    Feb 26, 2015, 1:46 PM EST

    Chivas USA v Real Salt Lake Getty Images

    If you believe the words from Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen on local radio last night, you probably want to prepare for a work stoppage in MLS.

  6. Serbian player threatened at gunpoint after missing late penalty

    Feb 26, 2015, 12:42 PM EST

    http://www.novosti.rs/ http://www.novosti.rs/

    It had to be a terrifying incident for the team, let alone the player.

  7. Pontius, DC United represent lone U.S. team left in CONCACAF Champions League

    Feb 26, 2015, 11:50 AM EST

    DC United v Real Salt Lake - 2013 U.S. Open Cup Final Getty Images

    Kickoff is at 8pm ET, with the return leg in DC on Wednesday.

  8. Southampton’s Koeman calls winter World Cup wrong, quips “Maybe I’ll be English manager”

    Feb 26, 2015, 11:05 AM EST

    Koeman AP

    Koeman, like many of us, thinks it’s a little wild to keep talking about 2022 in 2015.

  9. Cancer-battler Jonas Gutierrez set to return to Newcastle United side this weekend

    Feb 26, 2015, 10:16 AM EST

    chroniclelive.co.uk chroniclelive.co.uk

    Gone for now is the trademark ponytail due to the cancer battle, but Jonas’ spirit has been and will be a big boost for the Magpies.

  10. Sponsor-altered Liverpool crest alienates some Reds fans; Apology issued

    Feb 26, 2015, 9:25 AM EST

    LiverpoolLogo

    Dunkin’ Donuts has issued an apology after their doctoring of the Liverpool logo offended some fans.

  11. Is Manchester United legend Paul Scholes in line for a managerial job in League One?

    Feb 26, 2015, 8:39 AM EST

    FBL-ENG-SALFORD CITY-CLASS OF 92 Getty Images

    Scholes, 40, would be a high-profile move for the Latics, and Oldham says it won’t rush to hire a replacement.

  12. Back in MLS, Juan Agudelo works to regain his USMNT trajectory

    Feb 26, 2015, 7:48 AM EST

    agudeloHS2015

    He was without a team for a while, exploring other European clubs before deciding to return to New England.

  13. WATCH: This Asian Champions League goal was struck really, really well

    Feb 25, 2015, 11:00 PM EST

    Al-Nahda_Badge

    The midfielder takes a quick dribble and lashes a left-footed shot that pings off the inside of the net and rockets around the back.

  14. Spanish report claims Louis van Gaal and David De Gea have not spoken in months

    Feb 25, 2015, 10:11 PM EST

    David De Gea Getty Images

    The lanky 24-year-old goalkeeper has a contract that runs through the 2016 season and has been a massive part of United’s rise up the table.

  15. Liverpool’s Rodgers disturbed at Premier League scheduling around Europa League

    Feb 25, 2015, 9:20 PM EST

    Liverpool FC Press Conference Getty Images

    Rodgers asks a seemingly reasonable question: Why two days turnaround to face a City team that played on Tuesday?

  16. Europa League preview: Second legs prompt excitement (and extra security)

    Feb 25, 2015, 8:31 PM EST

    Britain Soccer Europa League AP

    Premier League teams’ Europa League fortunes range from comfortable to troubled with Everton, Spurs and Liverpool mixing it up on Thursday.

  17. UEFA Champions League roundup: Abysmal Arsenal, remarkable Monaco and a bullet from Bayer

    Feb 25, 2015, 7:26 PM EST

    Britain Soccer Champions League AP

    While Monaco went into the Emirates Stadium and punished hosts Arsenal, Bayer Leverkusen eeked out a victory against stingy Atletico Madrid.

  18. WATCH: This Calhanoglu beauty is what it took Bayer Leverkusen to break Atletico Madrid’s shutout streak

    Feb 25, 2015, 6:43 PM EST

    Germany Soccer Champions League AP

    A gorgeous strike from Turkey’s 21-year-old attacker lifted Bayer Leverkusen to a 1-0 lead in its UEFA Champions League tie with Atletico Madrid.

  19. Wenger says “horrible night” vs Monaco was about lack of sharpness: “We paid for it”

    Feb 25, 2015, 5:54 PM EST

    Britain Soccer Champions League AP

    Monaco has Arsenal on the UEFA Champions League ropes, and the Gunners could easily bow out in its fifth-straight Round of 16.

  20. Berbatov after beating Arsenal: “We wanted the win more than them”

    Feb 25, 2015, 5:07 PM EST

    FBL-EUR-C1-ARSENAL-MONACO Getty Images

    You know the former Spurs man knows what he’s doing, having a dig at the North London rivals after a 3-1 win in the UEFA Champions League.