To round up the 2012-13 youth football season at Chelsea, we’re reviewing every single one of the Chelsea youngsters currently on the books who have spent time out on loan during the campaign. Here, we focus on Thorgan Hazard.
Club: Zulte-Waregem (Belgium)
Appearances: 34 (4 goals)
Fresh off the back of big brother Eden arriving in SW6 last summer, Thorgan also made the relatively short hop across the channel from the Nord Pas-de-Calais region of France to don the blue shirt of the then Champions of Europe.
It was a curious move, not least because whilst Eden had sparkled on the bigger stages and announced himself as one of the foremost young talents in Europe, Thorgan had taken the quieter road and managed a handful of second-tier outings for Lens, local rivals of his big brother’s Lille. It therefore made most sense (to some journalists) to link the move of one brother to another and suggest that it was a deal made simply to appease Eden.
Ten months down the line, and the second of the four footballing Hazards has gone a long way to assuaging the many doubts people may have had about him as he played a key part in Zulte-Waregem’s unlikely ascent to the summit of Belgian football. They fell short of the title by failing to beat Anderlecht away on the final day – no easy task in itself – but booked themselves a spot in the Champions League qualifiers next season, an amazing feat for a club with such a tiny operating budget.
Thorgan plays more central and deeper in midfield than Eden does, adopting a more cerebral game of string-pulling and control, but still possesses some of the apparent family traits in being able to use both feet extremely well and having the flair for a spectacular goal or assist, as his highlight reel more than adequately testifies.
Thorgan spoke late in the season about being likely to stay at Zulte should they make the Champions League. An automatic berth would’ve made a return easier, giving him a stable environment which would doubtless provide comfort and confidence in a season where a strong impression could give him an outside shot of making any Belgian World Cup squads.
However, they’re likely to face a much bigger seeded team in the qualifiers and so the exposure of playing in a better league – England, Germany or the Netherlands stand out as options – could accentuate his profile even further and give him an even grander stage on which to shine. He’s also been linked with Anderlecht, who are themselves bound for the group stages and will be playing on the stage he now demands.
He might never scale the heights of his eldest brother but then again, very few will. Opportunities have come Thorgan’s way in the last twelve months and he’s made good on them. More will certainly come, and he has plenty going for him.