Is Eden Hazard playing for a Real Madrid move?
Since he joined Chelsea in 2012, Eden Hazard has never started a season as brilliantly as he’s started 2018-19. It’s not a flash in the pan from some wannabe. This is a player who’s been named in the Premier League Team of the Year four times; he’s won the league’s best player award once and scored 89 goals for the Blues.
Last term was a poor one for Chelsea. That seemed to rub off a little on Hazard’s performances. It didn’t stop him from poaching 17 strikes while helping Chelsea win the FA Cup. Meanwhile, Belgium shone at the 2018 World Cup. The Red Devils progressed through to semi-final, before winning bronze. As you’d expect, their skipper, Hazard was the star of Roberto Martinez’s team with the most assists at the tournament. It earned him a place in FIFA’s 'The Best' Team of the Year.
Already with seven goals and two assists from his first eight games of the season; a logical line of thought is that new manager Maurizio Sarri has had a massive influence on the superstar. But we could read the situation entirely differently. Hazard might’ve just taken it upon himself to remind his favoured suitor how good he is.
Chelsea fans don’t want to hear it. Still, a resolution doesn’t seem forthcoming. Hazard’s contract expires in 2020’s summer. Quizzed if he’s signed a new contract, the instant reply is “Not yet. Not yet”. The implication is - unless Hazard renews his contract, he’ll have one year left on his current deal at season’s end. That puts Chelsea in a desperate position. When a player of Hazard’s quality has 12 months left on his deal, he attracts interest like nectar do bees.
As things stand, there isn’t any football savvy individual in Europe that doesn’t know how hot Hazard has been since the start of the campaign. The best clubs in Europe have been alerted. All it takes to prise him away from Stamford Bridge is money. Who has more to lavish than Real Madrid? Where else would he rather go?
Don’t mention Gareth Bale or Isco; truth be told, Los Merengues is yet to replace Cristiano Ronaldo with another proven dribbler and match winner. Cost aside, Hazard is there for the taking. Madrid doesn’t knock and the door stays closed. Manchester United lost Ronaldo in a heartbeat. The situation with Thibaut Courtois is still fresh on Chelsea’s mind.
At 27, every footballer should either be at their peak or somewhere around there. That’s exactly where Hazard is. His valuation has shot-up and is now in excess of £120 million. If they really want the player, money’s no problem for Los Blancos. But before Florentino Perez sanctions such a mammoth transfer, the hierarchy need some assurance. They must be convinced they’re signing a player who can produce for the next 3-5 years. That takes us back to Hazard’s current form.
There’s never been a question about his quality or ability. He’s had the Premier League in his pocket plenty times. His proficiency, however, bears traces of inconsistency. Hazard is mopping up those traces this term. The former Ligue 1 best player is among the early contenders for Europe’s Golden Shoe. Unless something changes, that’s a big green light that beckons on Real Madrid.
Chelsea has all to do now. Getting the Belgian show-stopper to sign a new contract should be the priority of Marina Granovskaia and the entire Chelsea board. Pay-rise, incentives, promises or whatever; Chelsea must throw in the kitchen sink to broker a new deal with Hazard before 2019.
Being a player who lives and breathes attacking football, Hazard is clearly enjoying playing under Sarri. Yet, Chelsea can’t be sure of flaunting him beyond this season if he doesn’t extend his contract.
Few players can resist Real Madrid. Eden Hazard doesn’t seem like one.