Every so often, Real Madrid are afforded a glimpse of the player Eden Hazard used to be. The player they paid a club record €115m fee for two years ago. That’s all they have so far got for their money, though. Signed to be the club’s next ‘Galactico,’ Hazard hasn’t been able to live up to his billing in the Spanish capital.
In fact, Hazard has underwhelmed to such an extent that recent reports in Spain claim Real Madrid would be willing to let the 30-year-old leave in the next transfer window with El Nacional reporting Chelsea have already explored the option of taking the Belgian back to Stamford Bridge.
The temptation to put Hazard in a blue shirt again is understandable. Along with Didier Drogba, he has arguably been the brightest star of the Roman Abramovich era at Stamford Bridge. Not only this, Hazard earned himself a reputation as one of the best of the Premier League era while at Chelsea.
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However, Chelsea would be foolish to give in to this temptation. They don’t need Hazard and the return of the Belgian to the club could potentially unsettle Thomas Tuchel’s team. The risk of signing Hazard would be greater than the reward for a side competing on all fronts for major honours this season.
That Real Madrid are seemingly so open to the notion of selling Hazard on the cheap (reports state Real Madrid want as little as €40m for Hazard) should raise some red flags. While the 30-year-old has been given some leeway due to his misfortune with injuries over the last two years, that is no longer an excuse he can fall back on. Hazard has been fit this season and has still failed to make much of an impression.
There have been some signs of a potential partnership with Karim Benzema, the player Hazard was signed to play alongside with in the first place. However, Benzema’s understanding with Vinicius Junior is stronger than it is with Hazard. Marco Asensio and Rodrygo have also done more to earn a Real Madrid starting spot this season.
Injuries have robbed Hazard of the acceleration that used to see him brush past opposition defenders at will. The last two years have also affected his confidence with Hazard frequently too passive in the way he attacks - Real Madrid bought Hazard to be a driving force, but there isn’t much drive to his game now.
It’s not as if Chelsea have an open spot in their squad for Hazard to fill either. Tuchel is already spoiled for choice in attack with Romelu Lukaku, Timo Werner, Kai Havertz, Mason Mount, Christian Pulisic, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Hakim Ziyech on the books at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea already have too many attackers, particularly wide forwards.
Eden Hazard during a match for Real Madrid.
Image credit: Getty Images
At 30, there is still plenty of time for Hazard to rediscover his groove again. Increasingly, it feels like the Belgian will have to leave Real Madrid to enjoy a late career renaissance, but this doesn’t necessarily make Chelsea the right place for him to achieve this. Hazard needs game time and he certainly wouldn’t be guaranteed this at Stamford Bridge such is the squad depth at the club right now.
Nostalgia is a powerful force - just see how it motivated Manchester United to re-sign Cristiano Ronaldo this summer. Hazard’s return would thrill the Stamford Bridge crowd who still remember what the Belgian did for Chelsea in his first stint at the club. However, a winning team would be an even bigger crowd-pleaser and Hazard wouldn’t help in this regard. Nostalgia won’t take Chelsea any closer to the Premier League title.
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