- 2 February
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The Best Premier League Transfers Ever: Eden Hazard to Chelsea (2012/13)
Eden Hazard was simply a joy to watch. He glided across the turf, dancing away from defenders with ease, a nightmare to play against.
Just 21-years-old when he made the move from France to England, Hazard snubbed the likes of Manchester United and Tottenham to join the Champions League winners Chelsea in the summer of 2012, and what a move it was.
Once those two left, it was often up to Hazard to deliver the magic to Stamford Bridge, something he emphatically managed, barring the disastrous 2015/16 season. A fan favourite, Hazard had that something special about him at Chelsea.
This article is part of FootballTransfers’ greatest-ever Premier League deals. We have selected just one standout transfer from every season of the Premier League, including two honourable mentions. This list will then be gathered to provide a definitive list of the best pieces of business in the Premier League era.
Eden Hazard, Lille to Chelsea, £32m
Magic. One word to describe Eden Hazard. Roman Abramovich, with a recommendation from Joe Cole, personally sought out Hazard and outbid other suitors who were seriously interested in the Belgian.
Having secured his services for £32m after the Champions League victory, Chelsea looked revitalised by Hazard, who added youthful exuberance to a team filled with ageing stars who were slowly on the decline.
Six trophies followed, including two Premier League titles and two Europa League victories; a glittering career in England.
More than simply a goalscorer or a creator, Hazard added flair and every right-back in the league was terrified to face him. That being said, 202 goal contributions in 352 games is a damn good return, and his final season at the Bridge epitomised what he meant to the team.
With 16 goals and 15 assists in the 2018/19 Premier League season, Hazard dragged his side to a top four finish, often winning games simply on his own. The most-fouled player every season, opponents simply had to take Hazard out to stop him, there was no other way to defend against him.
It’s not worked out for him at Real Madrid, but at Chelsea it certainly did. A mercurial talent, and a bargain piece of business, Hazard will live long in the memory of every Chelsea fan.
Runner-up: Robin Van Persie, Arsenal to Manchester United, £24m
A close second to Hazard in 2012/13, was Robin van Persie’s move from Arsenal to bitter rivals Manchester United.
Sir Alex Ferguson needed to respond to losing the title on the last day of the season to their ‘noisy neighbours’ on the blue side of Manchester; what did he do? Sign the Premier League’s top scorer for £27m. Van Persie was that man, and his move across the country was undoubtedly a successful one.
The Dutch talisman secured just one major trophy during his nine year stint at Arsenal; one year at Old Trafford and he’d already equalled that. Manchester United were the 2012/13 Premier League champions, and the man who powered them to victory? You guessed it, Van Persie.
A total of 26 goals and 15 assists for the prolific striker, whose creativity often goes under the radar despite being so vital the season and he lifted his first Premier League trophy. The fact that Van Persie was only at Old Trafford for three years means he can’t match Hazard in this ranking, but on performance alone, the Dutchmen certainly rivals the Belgian.
Runner-up: Philippe Coutinho, Inter to Liverpool, £8.5m
An Anfield favourite during his five-year spell at Liverpool, Philippe Coutinho, just like Hazard, had the ability to create something out of nothing. A technician on the field, Coutinho arrived in England a curly haired 20-year-old, but quickly adjusted to the Reds’ attacking style of play.
A title challenge came so close to bearing fruit in 2013/14, but they fell just short. Once Luis Suarez left the club in 2014, the burden fell onto Coutinho’s shoulders to drag them through tough times, something he achieved admirably.
The disappointment of not winning a trophy at the club will no doubt play on Coutinho’s mind, but he helped the club challenge despite having a lack of talent around him. His spell may have ended on a sour note, but the £130m Barcelona paid to acquire his services enabled the club to buy both Virgil van Dijk and Alisson, two players crucial to their recent success.