For a time this season – following comments from both Chelsea player Eden Hazard and manager Jose Mourinho – it appeared the majestic Belgian could be heading for the exit.
In truth it was mere paper-talk. But when a player and his boss air their thoughts in public there is usually only one winner.
Following the Belgian’s opinion of the Blues’ playing-style and Mourinho’s subsequent criticism of Hazard’s individual play, talk of a summer exit loomed large, with a swap-deal involving Edinson Cavani the biggest of the hit-inducing headlines.
But now the Chelsea played has revealed that Mourinho was right, and that he will be at Stamford Bridge next season to put his manager’s thoughts into practice.
In an interview with Chelsea magazine and later published by the Daily Mail, Hazard revealed that he knew he had to do more both on the pitch and in training.
“I want to score more and help the team score more goals and next season I hope we can be better,” he said.
So no exit then? And seemingly no grudge against a manager who we all know has a habit of getting the best out of the best, which is a skill that should not be underestimated.
Mourinho took Cristinao Ronaldo and made him even better, so could he be about to do the same with Hazard?
There is no reason why not, and Hazard’s reaction to his manager’s comments suggests he understands the need to improve all aspects of his game. In short, even the best can get better.
And that could be bad news for Chelsea’s rivals both domestic and in Europe, because Hazard appears to have accepted that his outstanding individual campaign this season is just the beginning.
He has a long way to go to match the best in Europe, but he seems set on trying to do just that.
Next stop, the World Cup: meaning Belgium could potentially benefit from this new and improved Hazard even before the manager who inspired it can.