Roberto di Matteo declared that Eden Hazard's display of technical ability and bursts of pace proved Chelsea had got what they paid £32m for, after the Belgian yesterday made one of the most rapid impacts of any Premier League debutant.
The 21-year-old played a pivotal role in both the goals that put Di Matteo's side 2-0 up within seven minutes and with his balance, peripheral vision and speed he was unplayable in moments of the first half. Chelsea are likely to further bolster their squad with a £9m bid for Wigan's Victor Moses, but Hazard demonstrated that the European Champions already have a new dimension.
"He showed all his quality," said Di Matteo, who, though unwilling to discuss Wigan chairman Dave Whelan's reduced £9m valuation of Moses, said that his squad remained "a little bit light" in areas.
"He [Hazard] was outstanding – very good," Di Matteo said. "He combined well with his team-mates and was a threat. That was exactly what we were looking for. He's got great technical ability, a burst of pace as well, to get away. He can play with his back to goal. He has a lot of characteristics which he'll bring to our team."
In a sign of what may come often this winter, Hazard eventually found himself kicked by the Wigan captain, Gary Caldwell, and James McArthur, though Di Matteo said he did not fear this will become a regular feature of his games. "With these kinds of players, they're difficult to mark, they're good on the ball, they move," he said.
The Wigan manager, Roberto Martinez, revealed that striker Conor Salmon had not been in his squad because he is in talks with a Championship club, rumoured to be Derby County. But Martinez said the extension of the transfer window into the season was causing psychological problems to players, like Moses, who are being asked to play for one club while being pursued by another.
"You could see uncertainty, unrest, in dressing rooms around the Premier League now; players who don't know where their futures lie," Martinez said. "The transfer window should close before the official games start. It's unfair on the fans and the footballers. Victor, in the last 10 days, has got himself focused. He wanted to help the team but it's unfair asking any player – at 21 or 31 – to cope with that mental pressure. We want this league to be the best in the world, so we should look after our players. The human side as well."
Martinez was bitterly disappointed by his side's start. "We had seven minutes where we were ruled by our hearts more than our heads," he said. "After that, we got back to doing what we had to do. If you don't neutralise certain threats in a top team like Chelsea, you'll be hurt. Hazard can really affect games, use the space well, play in between the lines, and has an outstanding right foot that can hurt teams. But we coped with him really well after those first seven minutes. We were caught with the emotion of starting the league."
Hazard's limited English enabled him to say of his man-of-the-match contribution: "Yes, very happy, my first game, we win – OK!"
Frank Lampard observed of him: "It's not easy at a young age to come into the Premier League, no matter how good a player you are. You saw the quality he brought with the little spin that put [Branislav] Ivanovic through [to score] and the speed to get away from his man with the penalty [which made it 2-0]. That's something I know Chelsea fans are crying out to see."Reuse content