LONDON (AP) " Influential players in Chelsea's English Premier League title success:
The midfielder was a priority signing for Chelsea and he joined from surprise champion Leicester. The France international soon demonstrated his ability and was recognized by his peers as the Professional Footballers' Association player of the year, for his ceaseless energy and intelligence. He is the first player since Eric Cantona in 1992 and 1993 to win successive championships with different clubs in the English top-flight.
The Belgium playmaker sparkled as Jose Mourinho's Chelsea won the 2015 title, but underperformed last season as the Blues finished 10th. A change in management and formation under Antonio Conte, not to mention the presence of Kante, has given Hazard more freedom going forward and less defensive responsibility. He has thrived with his highest goal return " currently 16 " and consistently influential performances.
The striker enjoyed a hot streak in front of goal in the first half of the season, but his goal return has slowed since his head was apparently turned by a lucrative offer in January from China. Yet the Spain international has still scored 20 times, emulating Didier Drogba and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink as the only Chelsea players to have achieved that feat more than once. As good as the former Atletico Madrid player was at times, Chelsea may welcome a big fee for a player who is 29 in October and at times more liability than lethal.
Eyebrows were raised when the Brazil defender was re-signed from Paris Saint-Germain. Many thought Chelsea had done well to sell Luiz for 50 million pounds (then $84 million) in 2014, particularly after his poor showing at a home World Cup. But two years on Luiz is a more mature player, more disciplined and the central position in the back three is tailor-made for a player who is so comfortable on the ball that he can saunter forward into midfield and can spray passes out from the back.
This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings