Why the evidence suggests Chelsea’s Eden Hazard is leaning towards a Real Madrid move
The 28-year-old’s contract at Stamford Bridge expires in June 2020.
Eden Hazard has revealed he has made a decision about his future, amid suggestions he is ready to quit Chelsea for Real Madrid.
He told French radio station RMC on Tuesday: “I know what I am going to do. I have made a decision”.
Here Press Association Sport looks at why the evidence suggests Hazard’s future appears to be in Spain.
Remind us: what is the decision?
Hazard, now 28, joined Chelsea in June 2012 from Lille. The Belgium captain signed a contract extension in February 2015, which expires in June 2020, so will have 12 months to run come the end of the 2018-19 season. This next deal will likely be the biggest of Hazard’s career, when he is at his peak. Chelsea will want him to commit to the club by signing a new deal or will be forced to sell in the summer – the Blues will not want to risk losing him on a Bosman free transfer the following year. Hazard has 104 goals in 331 appearances for the Blues, who would likely demand a fee of £100million or more.
What Hazard has said points to his “dream”
Real Madrid is the best club in the world. It is my dream since I was a kid. Eden Hazard
Prior to May’s FA Cup final, Hazard challenged Chelsea to invest in the team. Then, after leading Belgium to third place at the World Cup, he said “it might be time to discover something different… you all know my preferred destination”. Hazard rowed back on that statement, somewhat, when returning to Chelsea, insisting he could see out his career at Stamford Bridge. After October’s 3-0 victory at Southampton, Hazard shared the thought process which was going through his mind. “Real Madrid is the best club in the world. It is my dream since I was a kid,” he said. “Sometimes in my head, I wake up in the morning and think I want to go. Sometimes I think I want to stay.”
Why Real Madrid is the only destination, if Hazard goes
Hazard has long had a contract offer on the table to stay at Chelsea. If his first thought was to stay, he would have signed it by now. Of course, he may yet do so. The thought is that Hazard has been waiting to see if Real’s reported interest is genuine. Hazard idolised Zinedine Zidane when he was growing up, but even the France great’s departure as Real boss has not affected his thinking. There is plenty of potential for change at Real, so it may yet transpire that a move to Madrid is not an option and then Hazard will stay put. He has ruled out a move to Paris St Germain, one of the few clubs who could afford him.
Mixed messages on the field
Hazard has mesmerised at times for Chelsea this season and has double figures for Premier League goals (12) and assists (10). He scored twice in the win over Huddersfield and showed his burgeoning partnership with Gonzalo Higuain, the on-loan Juventus striker once of Real Madrid. Prior to Higuain’s arrival, Hazard was deployed as a ‘false nine’, to limit his defensive responsibilities. Chelsea head coach Maurizio Sarri said Hazard was happy there; on the pitch he did not look too pleased. And the Blues boss publicly demanded more of his star player. Higuain’s arrival could save Sarri, help to secure Champions League qualification – another must if Hazard is to stay – and persuade the 28-year-old that a bright future can be had in Chelsea blue.