Thorgan Hazard might well have vitamin D deficiency, given he’s spent his entire career living in brother Eden’s shadow.
No sooner had he escaped Eden’s shadow than the looming presence of Kevin De Bruyne cast darkness far and wide.
Thorgan shares a name with Eden, but it’s KDB who’s proving to be the blueprint for Hazard’s increasingly impressive career.
It takes roughly an hour to drive from De Bruyne’s birthplace of Drongen to La Louviere, where Hazard was born as the second-oldest of four future footballers.
Both De Bruyne and Hazard left the comfort of home at the age of 14 to join prolific academies.
For KDB that was Genk, the academy responsible for moulding Thibaut Courtois, Steven Defour, Dennis Praet and Christian Benteke into Belgian internationals.
Hazard moved to Lens, winning the Under-16 Championnat National alongside future France internationals Raphael Varane and Geoffrey Kondogbia.
Having graduated through the academy, the next chapter involved a 2012 move to Chelsea.
De Bruyne spent four years as a first-team pro, the last of which included a Champions League debut in the same group as Chelsea, before pitching up at Stamford Bridge.
By contrast, Hazard had made just 14 Ligue 2 appearances for Lens.
The fact his brother moved from Lille in a £32million deal the previous month goes a long way to explaining Chelsea’s willingness to look towards the French second division.
No sooner had both arrived than they were shown the exit on loan in an age-old rite of passage, although both avoided the Vitesse Arnhem kiss of death.
De Bruyne’s destination was Werder Bremen and the Bundesliga, while Hazard was sent back to Belgium to join Zulte Waregem for the 2012/13 season.
Hazard played 34 games to De Bruyne’s 33, but it was the latter whose contribution was the more impressive.
De Bruyne was named the Bundesliga Young Player of the Year despite Bremen, whose squad also contained Marko Arnautovic and Sokratis Papastathopoulos, languishing in 14th.
More importantly, he’d played his way back to Chelsea.
KDB started the 2013/14 season in the Premier League after impressing on Chelsea’s pre-season tour in Asia.
Hazard was sent to back to Zulte Waregem as one of a 30-strong loan brigade which included Thibaut Courtois and Romelu Lukaku.
That should have been where De Bruyne and Hazard’s similar paths took a wildly different route.
Jose Mourinho, who’d spent the summer rejecting moves from Bundesliga powerhouses Borussia Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen, had other ideas.
The Belgian played in three of Chelsea’s opening five Premier League fixtures, winning twice and drawing once.
But then Jose went cold. De Bruyne never played another league game for Chelsea. The pair reportedly only spoke twice, with Mourinho later claiming De Bruyne would knock on his door ‘crying every day’ due to lack of game time.
A January move to Wolfsburg was swiftly arranged but, despite Mourinho’s crybaby claims, De Bruyne didn’t waste any time sulking.
In his only full Bundesliga season he picked up the Bundesliga Player of the Year award as well as lifting the German Cup and German Super Cup.
A permanent move to the Bundesliga also proved the shot in the arm Hazard’s career required.
Hazard joined Borussia Monchengladbach on loan in 2014 before making the move permanent a year later.
This season he’s been a revelation, scoring eight times and providing five assists in 13 league games while also netting a hat-trick in the German Cup and scoring twice on his last outing for Belgium.
Both De Bruyne and Hazard benefit from an ability to roam, relying on their 360-view of the game to balance out a lack of blistering pace.
But that’s where the comparisons stop. Since moving to Man City, De Bruyne has established himself as one of Europe’s finest creative midfielders.
If Hazard continues his form he’ll have no shortage of suitors come the end of the season.
Picking the right club, as De Bruyne did when he moved to the blue half of Manchester, will go a long way to determining how close Hazard gets to matching his Belgian team-mate.
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