Eden Hazard has struggled to play, talk less of impressing the fans, in his time at Real Madrid since his 100 million Euro move from Chelsea. His dream move has been a nightmare, and although some sections of the fans still believe in him, Madrid are willing to send him out on loan if it would help him recover his form.
Cristiano Ronaldo is arguably the greatest football player of all time, so when his departure from Real Madrid was announced, it was a huge dent in the club. It was clear that it would be hard to replace him. Ronaldo’s love affair with Los Blancos spanned nine years where he scored goals and broke records for fun. The Portuguese marksman departed as the club’s all-time leading goalscorer. He scored 450 goals in 438 appearances, and also provided 132 assists. He netted 105 Champions League goals and is the leading goalscorer for a Real Madrid player in La Liga with 312 goals.
Hazard always had his heart set on a dream move to the revered Santiago Bernabeu. He should have left Chelsea in the summer of 2017 but decided to give the club one more year. After winning the Europa League the following year, it was time to say goodbye to the club where he spent seven glorious years. Ronaldo was irreplaceable, but Florentino Perez saw Hazard as the man to try. Quite the task to put on the then 28-year-old’s shoulders, but Hazard’s resume from his time at Stamford Bridge was enough indication that while he may not fully replace Ronaldo, he could do a good job at the Bernabeu.
However, not every love story has a happy ending, and this was one of them. Hazard was the most fouled player in his Premier League days, season after season. He was kicked, punished by opponents, and not protected by the referees f or being the danger man. It is a wonder how he performed at world-class levels for several years. Those unprotected kicks took a toll on the now 31-year-old, and Hazard’s move to Madrid has been laden with injuries.
Hazard has missed more games than he has played for Los Blancos, suffering 16 injuries in three years in the Spanish Capital. He has missed 68 games for Madrid, in contrast, he missed 21 games for Chelsea in seven years. He has made 65 appearances across all competitions, scoring six goals and assisting eight. A terribly underwhelming statistic for a man who was more or less a god during his days in royal blue.
Hazard has tried to adapt to a new system with his international teammate Christian Benteke stating that the forward now subconsciously try to avoid contact on the pitch due to his recurring injury problems. “He now tries to avoid contact more often. That is human, if you have already had so many significant injuries in your career, It will subconsciously play on your mind. But it’s not because Eden no longer dribbles five or six men, that he can no longer manipulate matches like that. Now he moves more intelligently on the pitch.” Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti has been excluding Hazard from his side, preferring Marco Asensio, Vinicius Junior, and Rodrygo on the flanks, while Karim Benzema features centrally in a three-man attack.
Eden Hazard’s last goal came against Elche in January, where he scored a 116th-minute winner to help 10-men Real Madrid overcome a one-goal deficit and secure a place in the Copa del Rey quarter-final. He started the next game, and Uncle Carlo relegated him to the bench for the next one. His recent injury meant he had to undergo surgery to remove a metal plate in his right ankle. It is unclear when he will return, but there is hope that he can be available before the end of the current campaign.
The Belgian had surgery in March 2020, where he had a metal plate inserted in his ankle. It is believed to be the source of his recurring injuries. The former Chelsea man favored undergoing surgery on the same ankle a year ago to resolve his injury woes but instead opted for conservative treatment as advised by his club. After his surgery, the club would look to send the 31-year-old out on loan.
You can only sympathize with Eden Hazard. During his time in England, he was a menace to everyone both at home and abroad. He was already revered as a football great, and his move to Madrid was supposed to be his final push toward more. Maybe even a Balon D’or. His doubters now have a platform to berate him for not wanting to push himself through the pain, or maybe we could draw another thesis from this sad saga. Feeling loved and comfortable with your family where you are might not be such a bad thing, and maybe a dream is just that, a dream.