Chelsea supporters grew used to speculation surrounding Eden Hazard’s future, which would only ramp up when the Belgian star was away on international duty.
The story was always the same: Hazard wanted to depart Stamford Bridge and join Real Madrid. Of course, that move did eventually happen in the summer of 2019, but it was a deal very much done on Chelsea’s terms. Marina Granovskaia was not bullied into selling the club’s prized asset early.
Chelsea struck a deal worth £130million for Hazard, no easy feat given he had just one year remaining on his contract and was already 28 years old. And in the two seasons that have since passed, the transfer has very much worked out in the Blues’ favour.
Hazard’s struggles at Real Madrid are well documented. Injuries have restricted him to just 51 appearances for the La Liga giants while he has only scored five goals. “I know that when I am in shape I can prove myself on the field,” the Belgium international defiantly stated in the summer.
Hazard has featured in six of Real’s seven Spanish top-flight games this term. So progress has been made on that front. But the level of performance, the decisiveness he displayed throughout his time at Chelsea, has not yet returned.
And given his recent injury woes and that he is now 30, there is a strong argument to be made that Hazard will never be able to replicate the dazzling displays that won the hearts and minds of Chelsea supporters over seven trophy-laden seasons.
However, such is the strength of feeling for Hazard from those within the Blues’ fanbase, many have called for him to return to Stamford Bridge, for the club to pull him out of his Bernabeu nightmare. And over the weekend, Spanish outlet El Nacional reported Chelsea have entered into informal talks with Real Madrid to re-sign Hazard.
It’s a story that has excited and intrigued many but as harsh as it may sound, the Blues have, certainly on the pitch, moved on from Hazard.
Chelsea have invested heavily in their attack in the transfer windows since the Belgian moved on. Christian Pulisic was signed first, then came Hakim Ziyech, Timo Werner and Kai Havertz.
Romelu Lukaku, meanwhile, arrived this summer for a club-record fee from Inter Milan.
Let’s also not forget that academy graduates Mason Mount and Callum Hudson-Odoi are firm fixtures in the squad. The array of talent possessed by Thomas Tuchel is the envy of many sides across Europe.
Where would Hazard fit in? That’s difficult. His talents with the ball are undeniable and he would almost certainly help Chelsea fashion chances, something they’ve struggled with this season.
Would he do the off-the-ball work Tuchel demands, though? Is he going to counter-press when Chelsea lose possession, do his utmost to reclaim the ball high up the pitch? The eye test and stats suggest no.
Hazard has attempted just 10.9 pressures per 90 for Real Madrid in La Liga this term, a figure below that of every Blues attacker barring Lukaku. The tactical instructions of a coach play a part in this, naturally, but there’s no doubt the former Chelsea No. 10 would find it harder to press than many of the younger, fresher, less battle-worn players already at Tuchel’s disposal.
Hazard’s place in the pantheon of Chelsea’s all-time greats is secure. He was the driving force behind two Premier League title wins, the entertainer during dour, frustrating campaigns. And when he retires, there should be a role for him at Stamford Bridge.
That’s the time for a return for Hazard. Not now, not when there’s a chance it could taint what has come before. It’s important Chelsea leave the memories alone.
Source by Football London