Eden Hazard from the £89m man to being left on the scrapheap

Eden Hazard has gone from being an £89m Galactico to being left on the scrapheap when available for free – and Premier League clubs are turning him down over fitness fears

  • Eden Hazard remains a free agent after Real Madrid tore up his contract in June
  • The Belgian forward’s fitness struggles have put off suitors from making a move 
  • Hazard, 32, is reportedly considering retirement after a largely stellar career  

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez was effusive in his praise when presenting Eden Hazard at the Santiago Bernabeu in 2019.

‘I’ve wanted to say these words for a long time: today we are welcoming one of the best footballers in the world,’ Perez said.

‘Now you are where you wanted to be. Today one of your greatest dreams comes true. Here you will feel the emotion and the passion of all those who can’t wait to enjoy your talent, creativity and hard work.’

The Belgian looked certain to the latest galactico to star with the Spanish giants, having taken the Premier League by storm during his time at Chelsea. 

Hazard, however, was unable to fulfil the lofty expectations that came when he sealed a ‘dream’ move to Real for an initial £89m fee rising to a potential £150m.

Eden Hazard was hailed as one of the best players in the world when he signed for Real Madrid

The Belgian said he had achieved a dream when he was presented at the Santiago Bernabeu

Hazard failed to shine at Real Madrid after a stunning Premier League career at Chelsea

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The five-year contract worth more than £400,000 a week had been due to run until 2024, but an announcement came from Real in June that an agreement had been reached to rip up his deal early.

‘Real Madrid CF and Eden Hazard have reached an agreement whereby the player will be released from the club as of June 30, 2023.

‘Eden Hazard has been part of our club for four seasons, in which he has won 8 titles: 1 European Cup, 1 Club World Cup, 1 European Super Cup, 2 Leagues, 1 Copa del Rey and 2 Spanish Super Cups.

‘Real Madrid wants to express its affection for Eden Hazard and wishes him and his entire family the best of luck in this new stage’.

Having lauded Hazard’s arrival, Real Madrid’s farewell message appeared a reflection on what could have been.

Hazard’s future is unclear two months on with several clubs reportedly interested in giving the 32-year-old a chance to rebuild his career, while there are claims the Belgian is considering retirement.

Hazard’s rise to the top

Hazard initially rose to prominence at French side Lille, where he made his debut at the age of 16.

Deployed largely on the left wing by then Lille manager Rudi Garcia, Hazard enjoyed a breakthrough season in the 2008-09 campaign. 

The Belgian became the Ligue 1 club’s youngest ever goalscorer when he netted in a 3-2 win over Auxerre.

Hazard became the first foreign player to win Ligue 1’s Young Player of the Year award, with his growing reputation sealed when he was the first player to land the honour twice at the end of the 2009-10 campaign.

The forward was instrumental the following season, providing seven goals and 11 assists as Lille were crowned champions of France for the first time in 57 years. 

A domestic double was complete when Lille overcame PSG in the French Cup final.

Hazard made his Lille debut aged 16 and scooped a series of individual honours at the club

Rudi Garcia, left, hailed Hazard after the Belgian was key to guiding his side to the title in 2011

His displays led to Hazard being crowned as Player of the Year, an award he would also claim in his final season in Ligue 1.

Hazard’s skill, speed and dribbling ability had attracted the attention of Europe’s big clubs, with Lille boss Rudi Garcia admitting the club would celebrate the Belgian when he left rather than stand in his way. 

‘Eden Hazard has an irreplaceable style,’ said Garcia. ‘There’s no point in looking for someone to replace him that has his qualities and his level. He’s unique.

‘I am proud to have taken my part in his progress. I often said he would be one of Europe’s greatest players. He’s an exceptional player who made history at the club. We will celebrate him.’

Chelsea ultimately won the race to sign Europe’s most sought after young player in 2012 for £32million.

Hazard announced his transfer by declaring ‘I am signing for the Champions League winner.’

Hazard proved an outstanding success for Chelsea with the winger scoring 110 goals in 352 games for the Blues in all competitions, as well as providing a creative hub with a further 92 assists to his name.

He reached double fights for goals in five of his seven seasons at the club, helping to deliver the club to win the Premier League in both the 2014-15 and 16-17 campaigns.

Hazard scoring 110 goals in 352 games for Chelsea during a stunning spell at Stamford Bridge

Hazard’s goal in the infamous ‘Battle of the Bridge’ against Tottenham endeared him to fans

The Blues also lifted the FA Cup and League Cup during his time at the club, as well as winning the Europa League on two occasions.

Individual plaudits continued to follow with Hazard winning Chelsea’s Player of the Season award on four occasions, as well as winning the Premier League honour in 2015.

Hazard quite literally weaved his way into the hearts of Chelsea supporters with the forward once carving open the Arsenal defence single handedly before scoring in a memorable win. 

He endeared himself further to the fanbase when he scored the equalising goal against Tottenham, which confirmed Leicester as Premier League winners, ending Chelsea’s rivals hopes in the process.

Hazard was also involved on one of the more remarkable incidents on the field, when he was sent off during a League Cup tie for kicking a ballboy, when he attempted to recover the ball from a reluctant Swansea teenager. 

On the international scene, Hazard captained Belgium at the 2018 World Cup in Russia and won the silver ball as the tournament’s second best player after leading the team to a third place finish.

His performances led to Hazard being included in FIFA Best awards World XI in 2019, where he also placed eighth in the individual vote for the world’s best player.  

Hazard announced his departure from Chelsea after inspiring their 4-1 win over Arsenal in the Europa League final in 2019, where he struck twice in the final.

Hazard’s displays for Chelsea and Belgium saw him recognised as a great of his generation

He was named in the FIFA Best World XI in 2019 and was eighth in the individual vote

‘I hope you understand I had to pursue my next chapter, just as each and every one of you should when you have the chance to pursue your dreams,’ Hazard wrote in a message to supporters. 

‘Leaving Chelsea is the biggest and toughest decision in my career to date. Now it’s in the open I would like to put on record one thing was always clear to me, I have loved every moment at Chelsea and not once did I ever consider, nor would I have left for any other club.

‘Even when we were not playing well, I tried to do my best and this has been thanks to your amazing support.

‘That fighting spirit, desire and the refusal to ever give up is part of the culture here at Chelsea and it comes directly from you.’ 

Chelsea posted a tribute to the star after his move to Real Madrid was confirmed, declaring that he left a ‘true Chelsea legend and a serial winner’.

‘It is not only the raft of collective and individual honours the Belgian racked up during his seven seasons at Stamford Bridge that will live long in the memory; his skill, speed and smile will never be forgotten by anyone who had the good fortune of watching him at work in a Chelsea shirt,’ Chelsea wrote.

The tribute also contained a line which proved foreboding of his time at the Spanish side.

‘In all he was fouled 638 times in the league, over 40 per cent more often than anyone else in the same period. His willingness to quickly get back to his feet despite the darkening shade of his ankles and calves.’ 

Hazard was one of the leaders of the Belgian national team and became captain in 2015

The winger inspired their Europa League triumph against Arsenal before announcing his exit

Real Madrid dream turns into a nightmare 

‘I can’t wait to start playing for Real Madrid and winning lots of titles,’ Hazard said at his Real Madrid unveiling.

‘As the president said, my dream ever since I was a little boy, has been to play for Real Madrid. Now I’m here and I want to enjoy this moment.’

However, Hazard’s dream move quickly became a nightmare with the forward scoring just once in an injury disrupted first season at the club.

He scored just once in 22 matches in his first season, but missed 26 games through injury with a hairline fracture of his foot among the most serious of his issues. 

Hazard had been dogged by consistent negativity regarding his body during his time in the Spanish capital, amid claims regarding his weight management.

In an interview with French media in 2019, Hazard admitted he’d reported for pre-season at Madrid overweight: ‘I’m not going to hide it, but when I’m on vacation, I’m on vacation. 

‘I had put on five kilos, I’m the type to put on quickly and lose so quickly if I’m careful.’

His move to Real Madrid was billed as a dream but Hazard suffered a series of injury problems

Hazard was dogged by muscle, ankle and fibula injuries that limited his playing time at the club

Hazard’s relationship with Real Madrid fans was dented after he was pictured laughing with his former Chelsea team-mate after the Blues beat his side in the Champions League in 2021

His former Chelsea team-mate Filipe Luis once told Mail Sport in an interview: ‘Eden’s the best I’ve played with. 

‘He’s up there with Lionel Messi, winning games alone. But he didn’t run to defend much, didn’t train well, and five minutes before games he’d be playing Mario Kart in the dressing room. He trained and warmed-up laces untied.’

Fans of the club also sensed at times that he wasn’t too bothered about applying himself or even appearing to apply himself. 

When he was seen laughing with Kurt Zouma after Chelsea knocked Real Madrid out of the Champions League in 2021 he apologised to offended supporters.

The apology failed to win over fans who had increasingly become frustrated at the big-money signing failing to deliver.

A series of muscle and fibula injuries continued to restrict his game-time over the next three seasons, as Hazard increasingly faded from the first team picture at the Bernabeu.

Hazard’s Real relationship reaches breaking point 

Hazard made just 10 appearances in all competitions in his final season, ending his time at Real by scoring only seven goals in 76 matches.

In a revealing interview with Belgian outlet RTBF in March, Hazard had admitted he no longer spoke to Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti.

‘There is respect between us. But I’m not going to say that we talk to each other, because we don’t talk to each other,’ Hazard said.

‘But there will always be respect. Even if tomorrow, he doesn’t make me play anymore.

‘I have to have respect for a guy like Carlo Ancelotti. What he represents for football, what he has done in his career, there is no problem.’

Rather than refuting Hazard’s claims, Ancelotti admitted that the the Belgian’s assessment of their relationship was accurate.

‘The relationship is not cold. You have to value both perspectives. Hazard has been very honest, we don’t talk much because it could be a matter of character,’ Ancelotti said.

‘The most important thing for me, that if we don’t talk much, he still respects me. It’s the most important thing… just like I respect him.

Hazard admitted he did not talk with Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti during his final season

The Real Madrid boss admitted Hazard’s assessment of their relationship was an accurate one

Real Madrid star Toni Kroos suggested Hazard was at fault for his situation at the club

‘He doesn’t play because he has a lot of competition and a player in his position who is playing very well, which is Vinicius (Junior).’

Real Madrid team-mate Toni Kroos offered little sympathy to Hazard’s situation, suggesting the forward was responsible. 

‘Of course, the situation has been difficult for a long time, but at the end of the day, everyone is to some extent responsible for their own situation,’ Kroos told AS Diario.

‘That’s why I think pity is out of place.

‘I know Eden very well, we talk often, but I only pity people who are in very bad situations and Eden is not one of them.’

While Real Madrid won La Liga twice and the Champions League during Hazard’s four years at the club his contribution to the achievements had been minimal, with the 32-year-old doing little to justify being the league’s best paid player.

Hazard’s status as a fading force was illustrated after he admitted he didn’t enjoy playing at the World Cup in Qatar ahead of a ‘deserving’ new generation of players.’

In keeping with his last couple of years, Hazard’s 126-cap international career ended with a damp squib as a highly fancied Belgian side crashed out in the group stage.

Where does Hazard’s future lie? 

Over two months on from his Real Madrid exit, Hazard’s future remains up in the air.

Mail Sport understands there has been varying levels of interest in Hazard from a number of clubs in England in recent weeks.

However, concerns about Hazard’s fitness is believed to be an emerging factor as clubs ponder whether to follow through with their interest.

The reservations followed his injury plagued spell in the Spanish capital, that restricted him to 30 starts in four years. 

While Hazard has been tight lipped over his future, his barber, A-Star Barbers, claimed that the Belgian has rejected six clubs this summer.

Hazard was spotted with a fan ahead of Chelsea’s Premier League match with Liverpool

Hazard’s long-term barber A-Star Barbers claimed he has rejected six clubs over the summer

Posting a video on Instagram of Hazard’s latest hairstyle, a user commented: ‘No one want’s to sign you’.

This was later shut down by the barber, who replied: ‘That’s funny he’s rejected 6 teams’.

Hazard has also been heavily linked with a move to the MLS this summer, with it believed that Vancouver Whitecaps are in the race for the winger. They are joined by several Brazilian and Saudi Pro League sides that could make a move for the 32-year-old.

The Belgian still has options after the European transfer deadline passed on Friday, as he can sign for a club at any time as a free agent.

The key question is whether Hazard wants to continue in the game having reached the summit with Real Madrid and had a 16-year professional career.

Will the Belgian end his career? 

Reports from France have claimed Hazard is poised to call time on his largely stellar career.

Hazard is claimed to have been in no rush to decide his future, with the 32-year-old having enjoyed spending time with his family.

The Belgian had been spotted at Stamford Bridge on the opening weekend of the Premier League season, where he watched the Blues draw 1-1 with Liverpool.

Should he opt to elect to end his career, Hazard will no doubt view his time playing for Chelsea at the peak of his career.

Hazard will undoubtedly go down as one of the Premier League greats, but there will be a pang of disappointment among football fans over the way one of the biggest talents of his generation has fizzled out in his latter years. 

Hazard had been adored during the peak but his 16-year playing career looks to be fizzling out

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