VERVIERS, BELGIUM - SEPTEMBER 01: Thorgan Hazard (L) of Belgium and Markus Mendler (R) of Germany battle for the ball during the U19 International friendly match between Belgium and Germany at Stade Bielmont on September 1, 2011 in Verviers, Belgium. (Photo by Dennis Grombkowski/Bongarts/Getty Images)
It appears we'll be signing Thorgan Hazard from RC Lens at some point in the coming days, so now would seem to be a good time to get to know the youngster. Thorgan's biggest claim to fame at this point is that he's the younger brother of Chelsea's Eden Hazard. Thorgan moved to France from Belgium in his academy days in order to develop in a better footballing environment. Interestingly enough, Thorgan chose to join Lens, a fierce local rival of his brother's club Lille. He was part of a Lens academy that included Rafael Varane and our own Gael Kakuta.
From a physical standpoint, his brother Eden is an excellent comparison. Thorgan stands 5'8" tall and has about the same physical build as his brother. He's also probably very similar in terms of speed, agility, and acceleration. I'd give Eden the nod at the moment as far as physical strength goes, but that's something that could easily change when Thorgan reaches the same age. Thorgan turned 19 last March, so he should still fill out a fair bit. Positionally speaking, Thorgan is also a very similar player to his brother. He's capable of playing all over the attack, on either wing or as an advanced midfielder.
At this point, the similarities between Thorgan and Eden really do end. Where Eden broke through at Lille at the age of 16 and was an established regular at the age of 17, Thorgan made his Lens debut at the age of 18 and was looking to establish himself as a regular at the age of 19 before he moved. Eden was already an established regular at the Belgium senior level at Thorgan's age, although in fairness the Belgian national team is significantly stronger now than it was several years ago. Eden is often credited with a quote that his brother is the more talented (I'm not so sure that he ever said that), but Thorgan has by no means done anything yet to prove this. He's a fine prospect, but to pencil him in as a future superstar would be foolish.
From a technical standpoint, Hazard is similar to but less polished than his brother. He's strong on the ball and a relatively good passer. His first touch isn't bad, but he could still use work on his ability to quickly control the ball. He's not overly strong in the air, and his finishing still lacks consistency. He's also generally more aggressive than his brother when he's making passes from what I've seen of him thus far, which unfortunately leads to quite a few more turnovers. Like many youngsters, he's got to work on his habit of holding on to the ball too long. He's good about running as soon as he passes it, but he's a bit too slow to decide to make the pass and often the opportunity has passed him by.
There's not a whole lot out there in the way of video of Thorgan, but I do have one for you:
This writeup may sound make it sound like I'm not overly impressed with Hazard, but frankly that's just not the case. Thorgan is an excellent prospect, he's just not one that should be compared to Eden yet. He's considerably more raw than his brother was at the same age, and his decision making needs an awful lot of work. Eden is top young player because he's extremely technically gifted. Thorgan shows you flashes, but doesn't have the same sort of consistency.
In that regard, I really think moving to Chelsea will be a good thing. He's always going to be the brother of Eden Hazard regardless of where he goes, so he's always going to have to live in his brother's shadow to some extent. Here, he's not going to be the guy everyone is focusing on. Even at the U21 level he's just going to be another prospect, as at Lens he was always one of the real hopes of the fanbase. Working with guys like Eden, Mata, and Marin in training likely won't hurt either, as Thorgan has the potential to be the same type of player. He just wouldn't have that opportunity at Lens.
Hearing that Chelsea are signing talented young prospects is always nice to hear, as the more talent we have at the U18 and U21 levels, the more likely it is that we'll be able to fill our holes from within. Let's not get carried away with this one though, Thorgan is not going to be outclassing Eden at any point in the near future. He's a good prospect, but he really shouldn't factor into the first team at Chelsea this season or next. Have some patience and try to forget that his last name is Hazard, this one is for the future.