Eden Hazard caused a bit of a stir in world football by swapping shirts with PSG's Angel di Maria at halftime while trailing on aggregate in their recent Champions League clash. Some are suggesting the issue is blown out of proportion, Chelsea’s fans on the other hand are irate – and they’re well within their rights to be so.
We all understand why it’s done at Fulltime. It’s an iconic tradition of our sport, centered on the mutual respect of two who wish to hold a keepsake to commemorate a great and memorable contest. Beyond the notion of fulltime, the key term here is memorable. Whether or not the contest will be a memorable one was by definition yet to be determined, and on the 45 minutes that followed I can guarantee anyone reading this wouldn’t re-watch that match 5 years from now. It was certainly no Brazil v England 1970 where Pele and Bobby Moore swapped jersey’s after the Seleção’s 1-0 victory in the World Cup Final. Losing home and away and 4-2 aggregate in a UCL Round of 16 Clash, not even Tottenham would release a DVD celebrating that.
Swapping shirts at halftime with another 45mins to get back into the contest clearly shows a lack of interest – some consider this to be a cliché, but ultimately you’d think if someone who believed in winning the tie would be far too focus and furious regarding the current scoreline and pending elimination.
The incident itself was symbolic of Hazard’s performance that night and most of the season - his motivation and desire has clearly been lacking. During the match in question he was forever dragging his heels and simply going through the motions; swapping shirts at halftime is just another example of how he doesn’t give a f***. Consider this, would you ever see one of Leicester City’s players doing this at halftime?
Last season, Mario Balotelli caused similar outrage doing the exact same act. Though you could literally exchange the word Hazard for Balotelli in the paragraph above and the sentiment is equally as accurate. But again on that point, the guy must know that Balotelli received worldwide criticism for it and he still went and did it, which only serves to further illustrate the point.
At the end of the day, it seems obvious that Hazard wants out of Chelsea, and if he doesn’t then he probably should because nonchalance is not something that Antonio Conte will tolerate to put it lightly (if rumors are to be believed and he takes over next season).