Eden Hazard has hinted at a possible departure from Chelsea this summer, with Real Madrid and Barcelona interested in signing the Belgium captain.

In an interview with reporters after Belgium’s 2-0 win over England in the FIFA World Cup 2018 third-place playoff, Eden Hazard admitted that he could leave Chelsea in this summer’s transfer window. The 27-year-old is the subject of interest from La Liga powerhouses, Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Hazard has been one of the most influential players for Chelsea since moving from Lille in the summer of 2012. During this six-year period, the 27-year-old has been one of the best attacking players, not just in the Premier League but across Europe as well. In this time, he has grown in stature in international football, having been handed the responsibility of being the Belgium captain.

Hazard also followed up a strong 2017-18 season with a sensational 2018 FIFA World Cup campaign. 3 goals and 2 assists in 6 games only paints half the picture on his overall performance, with Hazard a prime contender to win the Golden Ball. With the player starting to show the kind of maturity that is expected out of a world class talent, Real Madrid and Barcelona have come calling for his signature.

Real Madrid, in fact, hold a long-standing interest in Hazard, having had their sights on him for a few years now. But, their interest has never been more concrete, with Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure leaving a huge void upfront in attack. Gareth Bale is a prolific contributor for Los Blancos. But, his injury record does not render him as a reliable figure throughout the season.

Beyond the Welshman, there is very little in terms of consistent performers in attack, which makes the need to bolster attack an urgent one for Real Madrid, and Hazard a viable target. But, Barcelona have joined their bitter rivals in pursuit of the Chelsea superstar in recent weeks.

Ousmane Dembele and Paco Alcacer are being linked with summer moves away from Camp Nou. Should either or both the players leave, Ernesto Valverde will have no options beyond Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi in attack. The pursuit of Hazard thus, does make sense for Barcelona, with the player’s technical and creative abilities making him a sort of a hybrid of Andres Iniesta and Neymar.

Real Madrid and Barcelona have now received a major boost in pursuit of Hazard, who has hinted at a possible departure from Chelsea this summer. The Belgium captain though, did put the ball in the Blues’ court as well, adding that the final decision will rest with the club.

“After 6 wonderful years at Chelsea it might be time to discover something different. Certainly after this World Cup. I can decide if I want to stay or go, but Chelsea will make the final decision – if they want to let me go. You know my preferred destination.”

Lifting the FA Cup trophy could just be one of the last Chelsea memories for Eden Hazard. (Photo courtesy - Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Lifting the FA Cup trophy could just be one of the last Chelsea memories for Eden Hazard. (Photo courtesy – Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

The comments do make for a concerning read for Chelsea and newly appointed head coach Maurizio Sarri. But, the fact that the final decision still rests with the Blues does give them some hope of keeping hold of the Hazard. The lure of playing Champions League football though, provides a major advantage to Real Madrid and Barcelona.

However, Real Madrid could be the “preferred destination” Hazard was hinting towards, with the player recently admitting that Los Blancos make him dream. Recent reports have even suggested that Real Madrid are ready to table a major bid to sign Hazard. Barcelona, thus, face an uphill task in their bid to sign the 27-year-old.

As far as Chelsea are concerned, the final word does seem to rest with them. But, Hazard’s hints towards a possible departure and his desire to play for Real Madrid could force their hand, especially with the prospect of a record club sale on the cards. For now though, Sarri would be desperate to hold on to the player and convince him to stay.