Having made 23 appearances this season, scoring eight goals and assisting a further five in the process, it's clear to see why 24-year-old Eden Hazard is rated so highly by Chelsea fans and Premier League spectators alike.
Cesc Fabregas stole the plaudits throughout the opening half of the season for his heroics in the final third, but it is fair to suggest that Hazard is rapidly emerging as the most innovative among Jose Mourinho's ranks.
|Position||Appearances||Goals Scored||Assists||Shot Conversion (%)||Key Passes||Mins|
Having fashioned 60 key passes thus far, compared to his Spanish teammate's 65, there is little to split the two players in terms of their creative output. Meanwhile, Hazard tops the division's rankings in terms of dribbles completed (108) and free-kicks won (68). He is also second, behind only Tottenham's Christian Eriksen, in terms of goals scored by a midfielder.
The Belgian playmaker has been his side's most inspiring asset throughout the current campaign, and it comes as little surprise that he is among the English top flight's best in a number of key attacking indicators. His impressive rise form has run synonymous with Chelsea's juggernaut-like charge for Premier League success.
Nevertheless, for many, one statistic will stand-out as being more of an achievement than any mentioned previously:
Eden Hazard: Has made more passes in the final third of the pitch (648) than any other player in Europe’s top 5 leagues this season #cfc— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) February 5, 2015
Not only has Hazard played more final third passes than anyone else in the Premier League, but he also tops the statistics across the entirety of Europe, suggesting he has more attacking influence than the likes of Barcelona's Lionel Messi, Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo and Bayern Munich's Arjen Robben; against all of whom he is so often compared to.
His ability to construct penetrating, forward-thinking moves, both in and around the opposition penalty area, is second-to-none; as we have witnessed throughout the entirety of the current domestic campaign. His five assists for the season have come directly from his talent and ingenuity in such situations, from which his teammates have naturally been the main beneficiaries.
Chelsea fans would probably like to see Hazard hitting the back of the net more regularly, but for now it is becoming increasingly hard to dispute his importance at Stamford Bridge. He is arguably the Premier League's most creative at this present moment of time, and he is certainly knocking on the door of Europe's best. Jose Mourinho will surely be desperate to tie the Belgian midfielder down with a new long-term contract.