Real Madrid have rekindled their interest in Eden Hazard, after the Chelsea FC star’s outstanding performance at the European Championships in France.
Real Madrid are said to have long been interested in the Belgian captain ever since he arrived at Chelsea in the summer of 2012. This interest was seemingly strengthened after former Galactico Zinedine Zidane took over as manager at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Zidane has made his admiration for Hazard clear, claiming that the Belgian is the best footballer in the world, second only to the mercurial Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
“After Messi and Ronaldo, Hazard is my favourite player. I love watching him because he is a player who creates things and it is often spectacular to see him play,” Zidane had said last year.
Hazard returned the compliment, saying that he himself is a huge fan of the former World Cup winner. He said, “Yes of course. When I was little, I watched him on television and the internet for hours. I talked Zidane and I ate Zidane.”
While such talk of mutual admiration increased rumours of a possible move from the English capital to the Spanish one, Hazard’s poor form on the pitch ensured that Madrid’s interest in the Belgian star waned last season. The Chelsea man had managed to score just four goals and make three assists in a disastrous campaign that saw the defending Premier League champions finish 10th.
However, according to a report in Spanish publication Fichajes, the Los Blancos have rekindled their interest in Hazard, as the 25-year-old has started to show the form that had earned him a €40 million transfer to Chelsea four years back.
While Hazard had an overall terrible 2015/16 campaign with Chelsea, the Belgian did perform well towards the end of the last season, scoring four goals and providing three assists in his last five Premier League appearances for the Blues.
Hazard has been able to carry the momentum forward to Belgium’s Euro 2016 campaign in France this month, providing an assist in every match (except against Italy), and also scoring in the Red Devils’ 4-0 triumph against Hungary in the Round of 16 stage of the competition.
Is Hazard a replacement for Bale?
Great Britain’s exit from the European Union is going to adversely affect a number of Premier League clubs. However, Real Madrid are also set to be hit hard by Brexit.
As a direct result of Britain leaving the EU, Real Madrid star Gareth Bale will now be classified as a non-EU player. This means that Real Madrid now have one extra non-EU player in their squad at the moment, as per La Liga regulations, according to Spanish newspaper AS.
This may prompt the Los Blancos to look for an alternative for the Welshman, with Hazard likely to be their man. the Belgian can play on either wings, and has the adequate star power to replace Bale in the starting XI.
While Hazard did not have a great season, he showed that he could have a great impact on his team when he is in form (he was named PFA Player of the Year in 2014/15). This would make the Belgian the ideal ‘EU’ replacement for Bale.
However, it seems unlikely that the Los Blancos will let go of a player of Bale’s calibre, as they have other under-performing non-EU stars who can be sold off, like James Rodriguez and Danilo.