Hazard denies agreement with Real and Zidane – but is it a case of when, not if?
Eden Hazard has denied reports suggesting the Chelsea playmaker has spoken with Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane and agreed to join the Spanish club this summer – but it’s a move which appears to be a matter of when, not if…
Hazard has long been linked with a move to the Bernabeu, and reports this week said the Belgian had agreed a five-year deal with Real after speaking to Zidane, who returned as manager earlier this month.
Asked about the links while on international duty with Belgium, Hazard replied: "There's nothing in the reports.
"I'm only focused on tomorrow's game against Cyprus. That's all I'm thinking about."
The 28-year-old continued his flirtation with Real earlier this week when stating Zidane was his idol growing up.
Hazard, asked to choose between Zidane and current Belgium manager Roberto Martinez, said: "I have a lot of respect for Zidane.
" Thanks to him I began playing (football). But for the wins achieved with Martinez, I choose him."
Eden Hazard and Roberto MartínezGetty Images
Hazard has treaded questions about Real carefully in recent months, and appears intent on not upsetting Chelsea supporters after witnessing first-hand Thibaut Courtois’ unceremonious exit from Stamford Bridge.
You will be hard-pressed to find a Chelsea fan who is confident Hazard will stay. The lure of Real is strong, particularly with Zidane back at the helm, while the Blues will need to guarantee Champions League football to have any hope of keeping their star asset.
At 28, it is unlikely he will want to spend another season playing Europa League football as the world’s best fight for Europe’s top prize, but Hazard looks as though he will remain the ultimate professional until the end of the season.
Chelsea's Eden HazardGetty Images
With the Europa League to fight for (and the Champions League spot that comes with in) and with Chelsea still in the top-four race, Hazard will undoubtedly give his all for the cause even as the Real rumours intensify headings towards the summer.
Chelsea are currently favourites for the Europa League, and have rarely had to call on Hazard so far.
His role will only increase though as the latter stages unfold. A final piece of silverware would be the ultimate parting gift ahead of this seemingly inevitable move.