Being the brother of a high-profile footballer must come with a lot of pressure.
Sibling rivalries can be as inconsequential as fighting over the remote but, with elite sport involved, the stakes are somewhat higher.
Yes, living in the sibling’s shadow must be difficult but there are several players making a decent fist of it. Jordan Lukaku, Romelu’s younger brother, is at Lazio for instance. However, the Ayew brothers, Jordan and André, still refuse to offer much insight into which one is better (they’re both currently on loan away from Swansea City).
Then there is Thorgan Hazard, three years Eden’s junior. It’s often forgotten that Chelsea signed not one but two Hazards in the summer of 2012. Not only did Eden arrive from Lille in a £32million deal, but Thorgan was also signed from Lens.
Their career trajectories soon bifurcated wildly. Whereas Eden proceeded to win Premier League titles with the Blues – often being mentioned as the finest player in the world behind Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo – Thorgan never made a senior appearance at Stamford Bridge.
Instead, just a few weeks after his arrival, the younger of the two Hazards was sent on loan to Zulte Waregem, where he enjoyed two productive years back in his homeland.
But with Eden making a significant impression in the Premier League, there was no question whose future seemed brighter.
Now, though, while the Chelsea winger remains the more established and revered talent, Thorgan has continued his impressive progression at Borussia Mönchengladbach.
After two years in Belgium, Hazard joined the Bundesliga side on loan for the 2014/15 campaign. His integration into the Mönchengladbach was gradual; he started just seven league games under Lucien Favre during his debut season.
But, over time, Hazard’s output has improved. His second year in Germany saw him chip in with four goals and four assists and he surpassed his scoring tally in his third term, netting six times.
André Schubert, Favre’s successor, lost his job halfway through the 2016/17 season. While it was a troubling time, under Dieter Hecking, Hazard has flourished.
With the experienced coach’s direction, Hazard began to blossom, allowing him to dream of emulating not just his brother’s success, but that of Belgian compatriot Kevin De Bruyne, too, who earned his move to Manchester City after starring for Hecking’s Wolfsburg.
The 2017/18 campaign was significant in Hazard’s blossoming career as he scored ten goals and notched six assists to join his brother in Roberto Martínez’s Belgium squad for the World Cup. Although not a starter, his mere presence was a measure of how he’s come having earned just two caps between 2013 and 2016.
Hazard was the bright spark in an otherwise disappointing season for Mönchengladbach, who finished ninth.
This year, however, Hazard has propelled himself into the spotlight with a series of dazzling displays, even outperforming his esteemed sibling.
The 25-year-old has eight goals and five assists in 12 Bundesliga games (11 and six respectively in all competitions), inspiring his side’s excellent start to the season (they’re second, four points off pacesetters Borussia Dortmund).
Overall, he’s been directly involved in 17 of Mönchengladbach’s goals this season. Not even his brother, who has admittedly starred for Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea this season, can match that.
His brilliance is reflected in his statistics. No player in his position has created more ‘big chances’ than his six while he also tops the expected assists (xA) chart with 2.52, 0.21 per 90 minutes.
He’s also comfortably outperforming his open-play xG of 1.73. In fact, only one player can better his open-play goals-xG ratio of 2.3.
And it hasn’t all been about attacking either. Hazard ranks first for tackles by players in his position with 26 and he’s second in interceptions, with ten.
With seven goals and four assists in his last seven games for club and country, Hazard is in the form of his life.
With two years on his brother, there is still time for Hazard to grow. Already one of the Bundesliga’s most consistent attackers, continue on the same path and the once implausible scenario of him surpassing his brother may become a reality.