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A Hazard Warning: Big price tags bring no guarantees

by Rob Dore | May 28, 2012

This piece carries the header ‘A Hazard Warning’ mainly for the punnery rather than because Chelsea fans should be genuinely worried at the prospect of spending a sizeable sum on a Belgian.

Hulk is a different matter.

Reports in the media suggest  Roman Abramovich is about to spend upwards of £60m to land Lille’s playmaker Eden Hazard (21) and Porto’s highly-rated striker Hulk (25).

Being Brazilian, of course his name isn’t actually Hulk. Instead he was christened with the far less super hero-esque moniker of Givanildo Vieira de Souza.

Reports/rumours suggest that Hazard may prove to be the more expensive of the two in this deal, despite Hulk’s €100m release clause in his Porto contract. That’s a fact which may surprise some, given that Hazard could have been snapped up last season for half of the £30m plus price tag that’s being bandied about now.

However, despite the hype which has surrounded Hulk for the last few seasons, Hazard is more likely to have an immediate and positive impact at Stamford Bridge. Ligue 1 is physically and technically far closer to the Premier League than the Preimera Liga in Portugal.

The Portuguese league is La Liga-lite and Hulk will find the move to the Premier League far more taxing than Hazard. There are also a lot of doubts about whether he can live up to the hype. He may just be a flat-track bully.

In Portuguese domestic action Hulk has scored 61 goals in 120 games, adding an impressive 48 assists. In European action he has scored 15 goals in 42 games, with seven assists. There’s a clear disparity there. It may simply be a statistical anomaly or it may be that he’s quite over-hyped.

The boy’s a Lille bit special

The same could also be true of Hazard but it isn’t. Having watched him play a major role for Lille in recent seasons we here on the Paddy Power Blog are of the opinion that he’ll be a big star in the Premier League. Although his style of play may be more suited to one of the more expansive Manchester sides, it appears his bank account is more suited to Abramovich’s billions.

Question marks remain over Hulk. He’s physically very strong but technically he can be a little ragged, which is not really what you want from a 25-year-old striker who has a €100m buy-out-clause. And he has never played in a top league.

If the rumours of these two players coming to Stamford Bridge are true then Chelsea will be the first big spenders of the off-season. There’s little doubt the Blues need an injection of youth and on paper these two look like a good fit. We may even see Chelsea’s price of 5/1 to win the 2012/2013 Premier League shorten if both men sign on the dotted line.

There are never any guarantees when buying a new player, he may be an instant hit, he may take time to settle or he may never work out at all. Such is football.

However, if we were to make a bet as to which of these two players would be more likely to become a Premier League star, our money would most definitely be on Hazard.

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