Where Eden Hazard needs to improve ahead of the new season

Eden Hazard 2

The Chelsea star enjoyed a fine campaign last term. But more will be needed from the Belgian this time around.

Eden Hazard has long been viewed as one of world football's foremost talents.

At 23 years of age, the man Chelsea signed for £32 million after the club won the Champions League in 2012 has been touted as a future Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo.

And, in terms of his ability on the ball, those comparisons aren't without their basis.

  TeamPosDribbles WonAppsMins
Eden Hazard Chelsea FW 132 35 2,895
Luis Suarez Liverpool FW 93 33 2,964
Raheem Sterling Liverpool FW 92 33 2,218
Ross Barkley Everton MF 80 34 2,286
Yannick Bolasie Crystal Palace MF 74 29 2,038

As Opta stats show, Hazard completed an astonishing 132 Premier League dribbles last season. Only Luis Suarez and Raheem Sterling got within 40 of that tally, with no one else in the top flight at all registering over 100.

Despite his ability on the ball, however, the Belgian cannot be said to be too greedy, either, with his final-third passing also right on the money.

  TeamPosSuccessful Final-Third PassesAppsMins
Santiago Cazorla Arsenal MF 785 31 2,597
Mesut Özil Arsenal MF 759 26 2,149
David Silva Man City MF 755 27 2,173
Eden Hazard Chelsea FW 740 35 2,895
Samir Nasri Man City MF 730 34 2,498

As data proves, Hazard was the Premier League's fourth-best passer in the final third last term, successfully completing 740 passes in attack.

But where the 23-year-old needs to improve is beyond the build-up play at Stamford Bridge, where Hazard is either beating the first man or playing the ball forward to someone ahead of him. Indeed, Hazard's greatest room for improvement lies in front of goal and in the final ball.

With 14 goals and seven assists in the Premier League last season, the Belgian clearly had a productive campaign in front of goal - he was Chelsea's top scorer by far - but, relatively, Hazard can do better. While the forward was the top flight's best dribbler and fourth-best passer of the ball in the final third, no less than 13 players made more assists than him. Get ready for a long list...

  TeamPosAssistsGoalsAppsMins
Steven Gerrard Liverpool MF 13 13 34 2,900
Luis Suarez Liverpool FW 12 31 33 2,964
Rickie Lambert Southampton FW 10 13 37 2,816
Wayne Rooney Man Utd FW 10 17 29 2,448
David Silva Man City MF 9 7 27 2,173
Yaya Touré Man City MF 9 20 35 2,927
Mesut Özil Arsenal MF 9 5 26 2,149
Santiago Cazorla Arsenal MF 8 4 31 2,597
Christian Eriksen Spurs MF 8 7 25 1,983
Olivier Giroud Arsenal FW 8 16 36 3,081
Kevin Mirallas Everton MF 8 8 32 2,330
Samir Nasri Man City MF 8 7 34 2,498
Aaron Ramsey Arsenal MF 8 10 23 1,764
Marko Arnautovic Stoke FW 7 4 30 2,253
Philippe Coutinho Liverpool MF 7 5 33 2,334
Steven Davis Southampton MF 7 2 34 2,497
Eden Hazard Chelsea FW 7 14 35 2,895

The problem for Hazard this season is that, while there may be better finishers in front of him to convert the chances he creates, the likes of Cesc Fabregas and others will also be seeing a lot more of the ball to be making those assists themselves.

If Hazard, then, can be as good in the assists department as he is with his dribbling, Chelsea will have a truly world class player on their hands.

The Belgian is already not far from the finished product - but those fine margins can make a huge difference at the summit of the Premier League.

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