Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta thinks Eden Hazard’s return to form is just like ‘a new signing’ for Chelsea.
The 25-year-old Belgian star was named the double Footballer of the Year last term after scoring 19 goals and being arguably Chelsea’s standout performer in their run to the English Premier League and League Cup titles. Many even felt he would make the step up to challenge Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, but surprisingly he has struggled to recapture that astonishing form this term.
But, since Jose Mourinho was sacked as the Chelsea manager in December, Hazard has begun to improve slowly under caretaker manager Guus Hiddink.
Guus Hiddink’s arrival as interim manager has really sparked indeed a drastic improvement in Chelsea’s attacking stars. Diego Costa, Oscar, Cesc Fabregas, even Pedro Rodriguez have found form. All of them now look different players that Jose Mourinho is no longer in charge at Stamford Bridge.
Hazard managed to score his first goal of the season in the FA Cup fourth-round victory at MK Dons and added a second one with a free-kick against Manchester City as Chelsea make it to the quarter-finals.
And now Blues defender Azpilicueta has told the Evening Standard: “Playing like this, Eden is like a new signing for us. Eden is a big player and we need him.
“We are a much stronger squad if we have Eden playing at his best and have a better chance to get good results.
“It is better to have Eden in his best form now than at the start of the season. It is at the end of a season when you are playing for trophies and we will try to win the two we are in.”
Chelsea have slipped behind Paris St Germain after the 2-1 first leg loss in their last-16 Champions League clash and now face Everton at Goodison Park in the FA Cup.
“It’s a tough draw but when you reach the last eight you know any game will be difficult,” added Azpilicueta.
“We are a much better team now than when we lost to Everton. Obviously, we will try to take the improvements we have made into the tie and try to keep going all the way to Wembley.”
Hazard also carved out two extremely valuable assists against Manuel Pellegrini’s side as Chelsea snatched a perfect win.
The FA Cup and Champions League now remain Chelsea’s last two opportunities to salvage something from a disgusting campaign and Azpilicueta is confident enough that Hazard can make an impact.