?Eden Hazard has made his admiration of Real Madrid clear for some time now and well, why wouldn’t he?
With the Belgian dragging his feet in current contract negotiations at Chelsea, Hazard’s head may well be starting to turn elsewhere with Madrid being the explicit direction of his gaze.
Hazard’s season, from a personal perspective, has almost been a microcosm for Chelsea’s as a whole. When Hazard plays well, the team plays well. In their biggest results of the season, the Belgian winger’s impact has been obvious.
He assisted both goals in the win over City, scored the opener in the 1-1 draw with Liverpool and provided the assist for Alonso’s winning goal against Arsenal at the very start of the term.
During his six-year tenure at Chelsea, the 27-year-old has won four major trophies, including two Premier League titles. But has Hazard achieved all he can with the west London outfit?
The next step for him, as it is with Guardiola and City, is to win the Champions League. Since winning Europe’s top prize in 2012, Chelsea have rarely troubled the latter rounds of the Champions League and now reside in the tournaments unfashionable litter brother: the Europa League.
Realistically, Chelsea will not be a frequent name in the Europa League draw at the start of each year. Nonetheless, a player of Hazard’s talent, who came eighth in this year’s Ballon d’Or rankings, should never be playing football on a Thursday night.
If the rumours are to be believed, who can blame Hazard for seeking consistent Champions League football elsewhere? Not only is Champions League football almost a guarantee at Real Madrid, winning it has been just as likely in recent years.
If you’re looking for European glory, Madrid isn’t a bad place to start. Furthermore, with the extraordinary sale of ?Cristiano Ronaldo to ?Juventus last summer, there is a gaping void in the Real Madrid attack that is yet to be filled by their back-up brigade.
With the Spanish giants struggling domestically this season, they are set for a complete overhaul in the summer. Whilst manager Santiago Solari is set to stay at the helm until 2020, he will set about rebuilding his squad which will require at least one marquee signing next year.
Undeniably, Eden Hazard would fit into Real Madrid’s starting lineup like a hand to a glove. The attacker, who typically favours the left side of midfield, would not have to adapt his position or the way he plays, as many marquee signings do for big clubs. Instead, he would walk straight into the left side of Madrid’s attack that used to be vacated by Ronaldo, and complement the abundance of attacking talent that would surround him.
According to reports from ?Sky Sports, Hazard has labelled Real Madrid “the best club in the world”, but Chelsea are willing to make him the highest paid player in their history in order to retain the attacker’s services. The Belgian winger, who has 18 months remaining on his current contract, has made it clear that he does not intend to leave in the winter transfer window and will make his decision after the season has run its course.
If Hazard decides to take up Madrid’s offer and complete his ‘dream move’, he would not be the first, and will unlikely be the last, to have made the switch from Premier League football to Real Madrid. Los Blancos’ two best attacking players of this decade, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo joined the club from Tottenham and Man United, respectively.
Luka Modric, Xabi Alonso and David Beckham are just three more who have made a successful switch from English football to the Bernabeu.
There is the question then: how great a transfer fee someone of Hazard’s calibre would attract.
With PSG signing Neymar for just under £200m last year, could a player, who is arguably better than the Brazilian, demand a fee even greater? In today’s market, it is a distinct possibility, and when figures like that are involved, Madrid never seem to be too far from the conversation.
If the question is should Eden Hazard bite the bullet and make the switch across Europe, then the answer, quite simply, is yes.
Clearly, the player’s head has been turned and should Madrid decide Hazard is the man to fill the Ronaldo-shaped hole in their attack, then it may be too good an offer to refuse for the Belgian. As we have seen so frequently in recent history, when Madrid come calling, very few people can resist picking up the phone. Barring Chelsea fans, of course, it would be hard for anyone to advise Hazard not to trade in his blue strip for an all-white one with Real Madrid dominating European football for almost an entire decade.