Eden Hazard is Chelsea's golden boy.
Their in-house player of the year of the past season is coveted by free-spending Paris Saint-Germain, to the tune of a £68 million fee, in what was described by The Express as a "take it or leave it" bid three days ago.
Of course Jose Mourinho would always leave it.
While Juan Mata was readily disposed of because the player did not fit into Mourinho's well-drilled tactical holes on the field, Hazard is three years younger, willing - or, perhaps more pertinently, able - to fulfil the on-pitch demands of the Chelsea master… to always be aware of one's defensive responsibility.
Of course Mourinho would have been a fool to do anything other than leave it.
No fool, but special, happy, Mourinho may well have on his books at Chelsea one of the stars of the upcoming FIFA World Cup tournament in Brazil. One of four teams in Group H, Belgium vie for a knockout-stage qualification route with Algeria, Russia and Korea Republic - all of whom are, on paper at least, beatable by a team who possess as much talent and versatility as Marc Wilmots' team.
Regardless of how well Hazard performs on the grandest of international stages, his best work will still be in the future - and that is because there is a player on the cusp of joining him at Stamford Bridge who will bring the very best out of him; Atletico Madrid goal-predator Diego Costa.
The Brazil-born Spaniard, himself earmarked as a player with the potential to steal the headlines at the World Cup has assets - both physical and technical - that lend himself the perfect finisher for Hazard's delightful build-up play and all-round chance creation.
Costa, 25, is not yet in his peak years as a footballer but he is already a prime athlete. He is 6ft 2in tall, weighs 13 stones and five pounds (not too dissimilar a light heavyweight boxer) and uses his physicality in a comparable way to former SW6 favourite Didier Drogba.
He is direct with his movement, has intelligent positioning and is a master of using space in and around the penalty box. Inside the area he is precisely what Arsene Wenger described him as last year; an animal - imposing, with a clinical and merciless finish.
Costa's Brazilian background is evident with how skilled he is with the ball at his feet. There are few box-strikers more adept than Costa, and he is also alone when it comes to card-collecting. He is a menace. In a fun way for the neutral but perhaps in a frustrating way for Chelsea fans.
With Costa, the Premier League is getting a Luis Suarez from two years ago - an elbowy controversy-hugging maniac, but with the goals that will make all, well… most, some, okay maybe just one or two Blues… forgive.
Like Costa, Koke has attracted the attention of the world's elite clubs due to his Atletico form, however, unlike Costa who finishes the moves, Koke is in-demand for how he executes that killer blow pass. Together, they built up quite a partnership at Vicente Calderon, with an approximately half of Koke's assists in the red and white striped shirts finding the net thanks to Costa.
"I know [Costa's] movements, and he knows mine," Koke said to AS earlier in the year. "Just seeing him run into space I know I need to try and put the ball where he can score. Sometimes without looking we understand each other. He can talk to me with a gesture and I understand him."
Chelsea's greatest chance creator was Hazard last season, with 92 goal-scoring opportunities provided. Just imagine the damage that could be caused if the club had a reliable, consistent and top quality striker on the end of those passes.
With Costa in the box… Hazard's assist haul is going to double, probably even treble.
|Club||Pos||Touch /App||Pass Acc||Cross Acc||Mins/ Chance||Assist||Shot Acc||Goals||Apps||Mins|
With Costa in the box… Hazard will begin returning statistics that will take him to within touching distance of Lionel Messi's standards at Camp Nou for Barcelona.
The third-placed Ballon d'Or athlete in 2013 was Franck Ribery, a Bayern Munich footballer who occupies the same position on the field as Hazard. When it comes to key statistics, the Belgium forward is not far off the Frenchman - and can surpass him next season should his axis with Costa flourish, as it is expected to.
Ribery has ten additional touches on the football per appearance on average than Hazard, but has an inferior passing accuracy. He has scored four fewer goals than the Chelsea man but has competed less Bundesliga games than Hazard has in the Premier League.
Where Ribery excelled in the German division last season, though, was his chance creation - he created a goal-scoring opportunity once every 12 minutes on average; an extraordinary return.
Chelsea, alas, suffered without a primary weapon manning the spearheading striker's role for Mourinho. But that all changes with the imminent addition of Costa, who will only take Hazard from great, to a great.