Belfast Telegraph

Chelsea pay tribute to Eden Hazard after £130m move to Real

 

New challenge: Eden Hazard has joined Real Madrid
New challenge: Eden Hazard has joined Real Madrid

By Simon Peach

Real Madrid have signed Eden Hazard from Chelsea on a five-year contract.

The 28-year-old will be officially unveiled on Thursday, June 13 once he has undergone his medical.

Madrid are understood to have struck a deal with Chelsea that could rise to a club-record transfer of £130m once all bonus payments come into play.

"Real Madrid CF and Chelsea FC have agreed to the transfer of the player Eden Hazard," read a Madrid statement.

"The player remains linked to the club during the next five seasons, until June 30, 2024.

"Eden Hazard will be presented as a new player of Real Madrid on Thursday, June 13 at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium, after passing the relevant medical examination."

Hazard becomes Madrid's third major signing after Frankfurt's Luka Jovic - believed to be for a fee of more than £50m - and defender Eder Militao from Portro for £42.7m, in a summer of rebuilding in Zinedine Zidane's second stint as manager at the Bernabeu.

Chelsea will view the outcome of lengthy negotiations with Madrid as a big success, as Real had been reluctant to pay more than £88m.

The basic fee for Hazard is expected to reach £100m, the sum for which Chelsea had been holding out for despite the 28-year-old Belgian entering the final year of his current contract at Stamford Bridge.

Hazard joined Chelsea from Lille in 2012, and went on to win two Premier League titles, one FA Cup and one League Cup - and two Europa League crowns.

Chelsea quickly moved to pay tribute to Hazard on confirming his departure, with his Blues career ending on 352 appearances and 110 goals.

"Although it is with sadness we say goodbye to Eden - and we made it absolutely clear to him the club wished him to stay - we respect the decision he has made to take on a new challenge in a different country and follow his childhood dream of playing for Real Madrid," said club director Marina Granovskaia.

"The memories he leaves us with will not fade.

"He provided all who watched Chelsea play with great entertainment and many match-winning contributions, and for that we thank Eden enormously.

"He has been a model professional throughout his time at the club, a wonderful individual to have around and a joy to work with.

"We look forward to welcoming him back to Stamford Bridge in the future."

Real boss Zidane refused to remain quiet, telling the media at a press conference in April that he had "always appreciated" Hazard as a "fantastic" player.

The rumours rumbled on and Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri seemed resigned to losing Hazard following the club's final Premier League game of the season, insisting the club must "respect" the player's final decision.

Hazard revealed then that he had informed the club of his decision "a couple of weeks ago", eager for his future to be resolved as early as possible.

Real finished third last season in the league, 19 points behind champions Barcelona, and having won the Champions League for three successive seasons, they were knocked out by Ajax in the last 16.

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