Athletes from across the world have been ranked according to their marketing potential over a three-year period from this summer.
- Value for money
- Home market
- Willingness to be marketed
- Crossover appeal
Belgian, 26, Soccer
Resurgent genius ready to step up and replace soccer’s greats
Key partners: Nike, Sure, EA Sports, Sina Sports
2016 ranking: New entry
It has been a curious couple of years for Chelsea Football Club, and no one individual’s performance has tracked their fortunes more closely than that of Eden Hazard. English soccer’s player of the year in 2014/15 as the Londoners won a workmanlike Premier League title, the Belgian stewed the following campaign under the cantankerous management of Jose Mourinho.
But the arrival of Antonio Conte has had a rejuvenating effect. The Italian created a thrillingly effective team who in 2016/17 won more games in a season than anyone in the Premier League era. Hazard rode at the vanguard of their scorching counter-attacks, providing the decisive thrust through his brilliant dribbling, passing and finishing.
“After Messi and Ronaldo, Hazard is my favourite player. It is spectacular to see him play.” - Zinedine Zidane, Real Madrid manager and three-time Fifa World Player of the Year.
It was a year in which he reasserted his status as one of the sport’s most watchable and devastating operators, reviving longstanding rumours that he will head to Real next and assume the mantle of Madridista in chief from an ageing Cristiano Ronaldo. A world record deal had been mooted before Hazard fractured an ankle, perhaps putting paid to any move for this summer at least. Still, with a Fifa World Cup to come, the 26 year-old is rising into the upper stratosphere of the global game. Already established and familiar to brands, and with X-factor to spare, he should soon have greater reach and impact than ever before. EC