The arrival of new coach Maurizio Sarri in the summer was hoped to usher in a new era of free-flowing, attacking football – a marked and deliberate 180-degree turn from the disciplined pragmatism that brought a Premier League title and FA Cup to Stamford Bridge under Antonio Conte.
That the former Juventus boss was let go despite his impressive achievements in just two seasons speaks volumes as to his popularity behind the scenes, with a number of the team’s key players airing their grievances at his robust style of management.
Footballing reasons aside, the appointment of his genial successor, Sarri, should not be overlooked as a ploy to win back the hearts and minds of those left disillusioned under Conte – and none more so than Hazard.
For seven seasons, the mercurial forward has been the star of the show at Stamford Bridge, dazzling and delighting fans with sporadic displays of brilliance, such as his hat-trick against Cardiff earlier this year.
But consistency has often been his weakness, preventing him from being considered in the same class as the likes of Neymar, Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo.
Despite this, the 28-year-old is in the midst of his most efficient season in a Chelsea shirt and, with only 18 months remaining on his current contract, the need to keep him around has never been greater.
But speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live's Football Daily podcast this week, BT Sport pundit Jermaine Jenas urged Hazard to take the next step in his career by leaving Chelsea for a fresh challenge.
"I thought he was unplayable at times," Jenas said of Hazard’s performance against Tottenham in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday.
"I actually said [in commentary] that I think he is too good for Chelsea.
"Chelsea are obviously a top, top side but I think he has outgrown them. I think he has outgrown his position within that team.
"He needs to move on. He is above a level of everybody else that is around him."
Real Madrid would be the obvious destination given Hazard’s repeated public flirtations with Los Blancos: in October, he admitted a move to the Bernabeu was still his “dream”, claiming he remains torn between signing a new deal and joining Madrid.
A decision is likely to be made this summer one way or the other in order to give Chelsea the option of cashing in if Hazard cannot be persuaded to stay – but has he really ‘outgrown’ his surroundings?
BT Sport delves into the stats to find out.
Since the beginning of the season, Hazard has had a hand in 21 goals in all competitions, scoring 12 while laying on a further nine for his team-mates.
His brilliance has been particularly evident in his performances in the Premier League where his 10 goals and nine assists amount to half of Chelsea’s 38 goals in total after 21 games.
Worryingly for Sarri, the drop-off between Hazard and his next-best forward, Alvaro Morata, is nothing short of a chasm this season.
The misfiring Spaniard has nine goals with zero assists in all competitions while fellow striker Olivier Giroud has five goals and four assists – most of which have come in his starts against lesser opposition in the Europa League.
Their lack of ruthlessness in front of goal fails to tally with the opportunities presented to them by their talismanic playmaker; since 2016 only Christian Eriksen, 239, has created more chances for his team-mates in the Premier League than Hazard, 229.
He has racked up trophies and accolades at an impressive clip, winning the Premier League twice, the Europa League, two domestic cups as well as a host of personal awards including the PFA Players’ Player of the Year, a place in the 2018 FIFPro World XI and, most recently, the FIFA World Cup Silver Ball, given to the second-best player at the World Cup in Russia.
But the Champions League has remained an elusive target for the former Lille man, coming as close as the semi-finals in 2013/14 before being eliminated by Atletico Madrid.
The question whether Sarri will be able to transform Chelsea into Champions League contenders will surely play a part in Hazard’s decision this summer but he himself must show improvement in the competition if he is to considered above Chelsea’s level.
In 38 appearances across five seasons in the competition, Hazard has scored just 8 goals – a figure that pales in comparison to the likes of Ronaldo (121), Messi (106) and even Arjen Robben (31).
Now 28, the 5ft 8ins forward is arguably closer to the end of his career than the beginning and can ill-afford to write off another season while the team around him is reassembled.
Chelsea moved swiftly in January to capture the signature of highly-rated Dortmund youngster Christian Pulisic and business is unlikely to stop there with rumours linking the Blues to a number of new recruits to bolster their midfield and forward line.
Whether Pulisic and co are intended as complimentary pieces to Hazard or potential long-term replacements remains to be seen but the optimists at Stamford Bridge will hope he can be tempted to stay when surrounded with a much-improved supporting cast.
The statistics show that Hazard is undoubtedly Chelsea’s most important player – but is he irreplaceable?
Premier League goal returns of nine, 14, 14, 4, 16, 12 and 10* since arriving from Lille in 2012 would suggest not; they represent comparatively modest returns for a modern forward but when paired with a competent strike partner Hazard has proven his true worth.
Diego Costa flourished alongside him, scoring 22 goals and producing seven assists in his final year at Stamford Bridge as Hazard chipped in with a further 17 goals and seven assists during the same season.
Calls for Hazard to leave Stamford Bridge are understandable: at times his development has stagnated through a combination of his own inconsistency and incompetence from those around him.
But with Sarri desperate to bolster his attacking options, and Hazard on track for his best season in a Chelsea shirt, trophies are sure to follow if he can be convinced to stay put.