Why Eden Hazard Might NOT Be Leaving for Madrid
Tony, a North Florida Blues original, on "Why Eden Hazard Might NOT Be Leaving for Madrid":
1 - Legacy
Eden Hazard has the potential to go down as maybe the greatest Chelsea player of all time, especially considering the lack of a supporting cast that Lampard, Drogba, Terry, and the likes enjoyed during their time. If Hazard leaves, people will understand. We are in a difficult spot with the potential transfer ban, the inconsistency of our manager, the rest of our team, the more grueling and difficult league in the Premiership, and a more difficult route to a UCL title. People will understand, but there will always be naysayers who will refute Hazard’s greatness because he left Chelsea for another European powerhouse. I imagine people, particularly due to the Madrid / EPL comparisons, will be quick to attack him for leaving Chelsea when we need him most (before this potential transfer ban). Others will say that is not his problem and he doesn’t owe Chelsea anything, to which I cannot argue. But there will be naysayers who bring up Antoine Griezemann’s decision not to move to Manchester United from Atletico in June of 2017. The terms were agreed upon, it was a dream move for Griezemann, but after FIFA decided to uphold Atletico’s transfer ban that summer, Griezemann did what a player devoted to his legacy would do, he decided to stay in Atletico. I, for one, can’t hold anything against Hazard as he’s given us a lot. He hasn’t been the blue-bleeding Chelsea die hard that I would want him to be, but he’s carried our team for years through inconsistencies and all, and deserves a stronger supporting cast. Whether he finds that at Real Madrid or through a revamped Chelsea roster after this summer remains to be seen.
2 - Real Madrid Not What They Were (a team review)….
The departure of Cristiano Ronaldo has left Real Madrid in a situation they have not been in in as long as I can remember. Cristiano knew what he was doing when he hit the eject button, as he probably saw what I did: a group of Real Madrid players that got old and slow together. Their midfield of Modric and Kroos, though talented as passers and match facilitators, do not have the defensive or athletic capabilities to make enough of an impact in the deep midfield anymore. This is evident if nothing else due to their increasingly worse defensive record in La Liga.
Real Madrid -La Liga Goals Against:
2015/16 - 34 - Finished 1 point behind Barcelona on the final day of the campaign.
2016/17 - 41 - Finished top of La Liga due to clutch performances down the stretch and a healthy 106 goals scored. (Barcelona still shattered their Goal Differential by a massive 14, and Real Madrid gave up the 2nd most goals of La Liga top 5 finishers that year).
2017/18 - 44 - Finished in an abysmal 3rd place, only 3 points ahead of Valencia for the campaign. They gave up 2x as many goals as 2nd place Atletico who only gave up 22 that season.
2018/19 - Projected 44 - 46 goals allowed once season is over. Destined for 3rd place again.
They have been exposed without Ronaldo as they no longer have the offensive consistency to overlook their glaring, and growing weaknesses. They are without a go-to goal scorer and are not the ‘Galacticos’ level of talent that Real Madrid are known for. Here is a positional breakdown of their current roster and why I believe Real Madrid have just as many holes to fill as Chelsea.
A prehistoric Navas and an out-of-favor Courtois leave Real Madrid in a bit of a bind here. They want to go spend the 110 million on De Gea but after his past two weeks I wouldn’t be surprised if they were no longer interested or if his price dropped by 50% (exaggerations obviously). But either way they do not have a solidified Goalkeeper this year. There is no Iker Casillas out there and they certainly don’t have anyone of that caliber now.
Centre Backs -
This is maybe their strongest position between Varane and Ramos. Ramos is still a beast, but at 33 he is the same age as Gary Cahill….. I won’t elaborate, but I imagine that’s why they’ve agreed to terms with FC Porto for Eder Militao, 21 y/o CB for 50 million which will take effect the first day of the transfer window this summer.
Full Backs -
Carvajal is reliable and still has a lot of tread left on the tires, so no worries there. Marcelo isn’t young anymore, but in my opinion, is still deserving of the best Left Back in the world. A lot of talk has him going to Juventus to join CR7 for anywhere up to 60 million, but if that doesn’t happen, they may hang on to the same full back pairings. Odriozola has proven for club and country that he is a legitimate up and coming prospect, and Hakimi (on loan at Dortmund) is still regarded as maybe the most promising under 20 defender in the world (Outisde of De Ligt obviously).
Centre Midfield -
Here’s where you’ll want to look away if you’re squeamish. The trio of regular starting midfielders at Real Madrid has been Casemeiro, Kroos, and Modric for the past 3 seasons. Casemiro is still a world class CDM, and I imagine he will stay and continue to lead the midfield defensive efforts. Modric has shown his age this year and has started to nestle into more of a distributor than an all-around midfielder (e.g., much like Pirlo over his last few seasons). Reports have him leaving for AC Milan this summer for around 70 million. Kroos is a different story, while not quite as old, his lack of defensive ability, speed, and athleticism has been known since his move over from Bayern. They have not improved. He and Modric fill the same role and it is a role that is out-of-style in the type of midfield Zidane will be looking to run. Unless Zidane has decided to change tactics as a manager, he prefers a 4-3-3 with one holding midfielder covering the middle of the defense and two centre mid partners to rotate the ball and look for incisive passes. These two centre field partners are also responsible for tracking to the outside of the field and assisting with defense on opposing wingers when Carvajal and Marcelo get forward, which is frequently. This responsibility is what will keep them from being starters for Zidane again. Zidane has made it known through the media that the midfield "needs an overhaul” (his words) and Modric has not been bashful about his potentially huge move to the former Italian Giants.
Zidane has openly praised Pogba and talked about how much they want to work together. Unlike the Hazard situation, Zidane has commented on the fact that he would love Pogba to play for him, not just as an admirer of his game. This question was brought forth due to Zidane’s push to sign Pogba in the summer of 2016 which was not fulfilled and left Pogba to sign a then-record deal with Manchester United. Given that Man United look likely to be stuck in Euros again next year, I think Pogba recognizes a need to move. With Manchester in need of an overhaul themselves, the 120 million they could get for Pogba would help pay for some new additions.
Zidane has also openly been in pursuit of N’Golo Kante. This deal, though brought forth by several media sources seems to be shrouded in a bit of mystery, which honestly makes me very uncomfortable. I couldn’t blame Kante for leaving if Hazard opted out, but let’s hope for the best. In hopefully-contrary news, Zidane has been publicly open about his favoritism for Mateo Kovacic, whom he signed for Madrid 2 seasons ago. He said that he ‘looks forward to having Kova back’ next year. Kovacic, while seemingly worthless for Chelsea, is actually perfectly suited for Zizus midfield scheme. Let’s hope they take the easier route in holding onto Kovacic and not pursuing Kante as heavily. Ruben Neves was heavily favored for a move to Madrid before his trade to Wolves, don’t be surprised if they make a push this summer to secure the young Portugese midfielder.
Centre Attacking Midfielders -
The wealth of Real Madrid lies in these 2 positions along with the future of Vinicious Jr. Isco and Asensio, I would argue, are the two most game changing and valuable pieces at Real Madrid. The problem is that they are playing in difficult positions for their skill sets. Neither of them are experts on defense, Isco certainly is better than Asensio there, but both are prolific attackers when it comes to holding the ball, dribbling, and finding space for others. Asensio may have the nod as a better future player in a forward position, but I think CAM is the natural spot for both of them. Isco struggles to beat defenders when he is forced to play on the wing, he is much more evasive in the middle of the pitch. Asensio has also proven that he is not prolific at a Winger position as his lack of production indicates. Zidane has 2 amazing players playing roles that don’t suit them. If he wanted to make the most of his talent I would move to a 4-2-3-1 but that’s not for me to fix.
Cristiano is gone, Bale is old and has never been the Gareth Bale we saw at So’Hampton or Tottenham. Lucas Vazquez has been struggling for consistent form and playing time for 3 years. Vinicious Jr. is a world class youngster but is still a teenager and needs support from another winger and a consistent striking threat.
Benzema was great a few years ago, but the 31 y/o has had to settle for just good in the latter stages in his career. In his defense, he has been the most consistent attacking threat for Madrid this year. Mariano from Lyon this summer proved to be a huge bust like I suspected. He was supposed to put pressure on Benzema for the 9 spot and instead has proven to be hardly worthy of a backup striker role.
They have a large purse and are looking to rebuild the Galacticos. To do so, they need to buy into Zizu’s system and purchase players that fit. Next, I will explain why Hazrd to Madrid goes against the 'Real Madrid Way’.
3 - Sigining Hazard at 28 is not the Real Madrid way
Look back at the players you remember from the dominant Real Madrid teams….. Casillas, Ronaldo, Benzema, Modric, Ramos, Pepe, Marcelo, etc. All of those players came to Real Madrid as youngsters or in the ‘dawn’ of the peak of their career. Look at Real Madrid’s latest big signings:
Gareth Bale - signed for 100 million in 2013 at the age of 24.
Marcos Asensio - Signed age 19 from Mallorca
Isco - signed 2013 for 30 million at the age of 20
Benzema - signed in 2005 when he was 18
Modric - signed from Tottenham 2012 for 40 million, age 25
Kroos - 40 million from Bayern in 2014 at age 24
Ronaldo - Signed from Man U for 90 million in 2009 at the age of 23
Sergio Ramos - been with the club since 2005
And the list goes on…
Since Florentino Perez was elected Real Madrid President for his first term in 2000, Real Madrid has never spent more than 40 million on a player even older than 25…. Considering Eden Hazard is valued much higher than what he would be transferred for Madrid would still be expected to shell out close to 80 - 100 million, doubling their highest ever to a player of 25 years old….. Hazard is 28….
4 - Who Zizu really wants
Zidane is not a poker-faced manager. He explains himself well to the media and is well received by his players, fans, and the press because of this. He gives thorough responses, and is deemed a ‘player’s coach’ as he is revered as one of the greats and has a knack for managing egos.
At the end of the day, Real Madrid need to bolster their attack and redefine their midfield this summer. They may find that spending 100 million for a player who may only be in his prime for another 2 years doesn’t make much sense. Zidane has not made it a secret that he and Perez are actively working to seal Neymar and/or M’bappe at any cost. PSG have stood firm and said no way, but Real Madrid tend to get what they want. While it seems an impossible feat, players like Isco, Kroos, and potentially Asensio could find themselves in a forced transfer this summer with the Parisian giants. This would give PSG the attacking midfield they need and the capital to go and get goal scorers this summer (e.g., Lewandowski, Icardi, Sancho, Coutinho, etc.).
Pogba, Ndombele, Kante, and Neves are just a few of the names that Real Madrid have been linked with this summer. Ndombele seems the most likely as the 43 million offer on the table fits the asking price of Lyon for the 22 y/o. Pogba’s relationship with Zidane, his near move to Madrid in 2016, Madrid’s dire need of a box to box athletic midfielder, and the fact that Man U will probably be lucky to compete for the Europa next year all point to the Pogba transfer being a lot more than just a rumor. It makes a ton of sense for both parties.
5 - Eden’s Words taken out of context
It is no secret that Hazard is an admirer of Zizu. That is fact, it is known. But the falling out over Hazard’s words regarding Zidane’s return to Madrid were manipulated to point to Hazard’s desire to leave. He loves Zizu as a player but as a manager it is unsure. When asked about his favorite manager to work for and if he’d like to play for Zidane he responded like this:
“Everyone knows the respect I have for Zidane as a player but also as a manager.”
“He was my idol. For sure, to play under Zidane would be a dream.”
“As a player there's no comparison, I have so much respect for Zidane, he's my idol.”
“It's thanks to him I started playing.”
“But for the victories we've achieved with Martinez I'd go with Martinez.”” - Eden Hazard quoted by Express.co.uk
As you can see, and as we all read, the quote that was plastered everywhere online was “He was my idol. For sure, to play under Zidane would be a dream.” But he was only saying that before saying he preferred Martinez as a manger. It doesn’t mean Hazard wouldn’t love to play for Zidane but the quote was taken out of context and run away with on the internet. It did not have the meaning that world football took from the misinterpretation.
6 - Transfer disputes out in the open
Generally speaking, two clubs and a player generally find it much easier to complete a transfer when there isn’t a buzz about it. Look how many times Hazard has almost gone to Real Madrid, how Koulibaly has been everything but signed by Chelsea and Man U for the past 3 summers, and how Ozil has been locked in for a Real Madrid return the past 2 summers. The list goes on, and sure, plenty of transfers happen after going public but think about just some of the transfers that happened with little to no build up. Ronaldo to Juventus caught 99% of the population, myself included, off guard. Jorginho was signed to Chelsea basically simultaneously as Sarri was hired, and there was no ‘Kepa Transfer Saga’ before we spent 70 million on a GK. My point is that when teams want to get a deal done, they don’t need the media’s help, in fact it’s easier for all parties if the media doesn’t know until after the fact.
Chelsea have been very open about the fact that they expect '100 million no matter what’ for Hazard. Real Madrid on the other hand said they wouldn’t entertain it unless it was 85 million or lower, and that Hazard would have to pressure Chelsea into lowering the price. I don’t know about any of you, but I don’t know any player that wouldn’t 'feel some type of way’ about a club president asking him to try to lower his price 15 million for them to sign him. If Hazard is as ‘world class’ as all the tabloids say he is in the eyes of Perez, what’s 15 million at the end of the day?? I wouldn’t be surprised if Hazard took that as a slight… you expect him to be the replacement for Ronaldo and you’re not willing to spend 100 million??
"Real Madrid won't entertain the prospect of paying the £100million Chelsea are demanding to let Eden Hazard leave. But they do want him to put the pressure on to force through a move this summer. The Spanish giants won't get near the Belgian's asking price with his contract up in June 2020. But despite time ticking, Blues bosses continue to dig their heels in. Hazard could have even increased his value with a double against West Ham on Monday night that lifted his side into third place in the Premier League. Chelsea director of football Marina Granovskaia refuses to buckle and will only accept what they club think he is worth.”- Mirror.co.uk April 8th 2019 -
This is before Hazard dropped another assist for Chelsea against Burnley on Monday. With every match, Hazard’s value to Chelsea increases and with it the price for Real Madrid goes up. I firmly believe Eden Hazard will re-sign with Chelsea for an EPL record £330,000 pounds per week. Sanchez, current highest paid player, makes £315,000 per week. Chelsea’s initial extension price was £300,000 per week, but as the months have gone by since their negotiation talks in January, I think it’s much more likely they offer a much larger contract to Hazard to keep him in West London for the next 3-4 years.
I know it’s not likely, but this is how I hold onto the hope that my favorite player won’t leave my favorite team. I’m willing to live in a delusional world if it means I’m happy, but when you take the picture as a whole, Hazard to Real Madrid is FARRRRRR from a done deal.