Eden Hazard dropped a not-so-subtle hint about his Chelsea future after Belgium finished third in the 2018 World Cup. The 27-year-old was one of the leading lights of the tournament, notching three goals and two assists, although his all-around play meant so much more for Roberto Martinez’s side.
Hazard matched the levels he produced in the Premier League for Chelsea throughout last term, maintaining his level of excellence even though it was not quite good enough to see his team through to the final in Russia. Immediately after beating England in the third-place playoff contest, Hazard suggested that he could be in line for a move away from the Blues in the near future.
The 27-year-old has been linked with a move to Real Madrid. The transfer would make a great deal of sense considering the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus. Madrid have dominated European football by winning the Champions League for the last three years. However, without the Portuguese, they face a massive challenge to remain competitive in the competition as well as with Barcelona in LaLiga.
On the surface, it seems a solid transfer for the Spanish giants, trading a superstar entering the later years of his career for one of the rising talents in the game – almost at the peak of his powers. In terms of status on the world stage, Ronaldo blows away anyone other than Lionel Messi, although the latest FIFA 18 rankings suggest that the ratings of their play are not too far away with Hazard rated at 98 compared to Ronaldo’s 99. The Belgian has an impressive scoring record in the Premier League – not too dissimilar to the Portuguese’s spell with Manchester United, with the only outlier being Ronaldo’s brilliant 2007/08 campaign when he scored 31 goals. Both players were and have been stars in England, with Hazard still being a popular pick for those looking to name their fantasy football squad ahead of the new season.
Only after his move to Madrid did Ronaldo become a scoring sensation in the final third. He changed the style of his game to become a centre-forward rather than the wide role where he played in the formative years of his professional career. During his nine years with Madrid, he scored an incredible 450 goals in 438 matches in all competitions. No player would be able to replicate that form of excellence over a period of time, but Hazard will have a strong level of expectation should he make the switch to the Bernabeu, especially for a reported £175m.
The Belgian’s play is usually off the front man where Madrid already Isco in the fold. Isco scored seven goals and had seven assists in La Liga last term, compared to the 12 goals and the four assists that Hazard contributed at Chelsea. Julen Lopetegui would have to think long and hard whether the two players could play alongside each other along with having Marco Asensio in the mix. Karim Benzema is the club’s central forward and would theoretically play the Diego Costa role that worked brilliantly for Chelsea to deliver two Premier League crowns, working in tandem with Hazard. However, for a new system to work and for Madrid to retain their dominance, their players without Ronaldo will have to take their respective games to new heights.