Real Madrid and Eden Hazard have a decision to make. Many injuries and few match opportunities have left the expensive winger frozen out at the La Liga champion elect. And there is little to suggest that matters will improve there.
Hazard, who electrified the Premier League in England with Chelsea, has scored six times for Real since he signed for approximately €100 million ($108 million) before add-ons three seasons ago. The club has paid millions more for each of his goals when factoring in indications that he receives approximately €500,000 ($550,000) a week, or over €20 million ($22 million) per year in gross pay, putting him among the club’s highest earners, alongside teammate Gareth Bale. As Diario AS (Spanish) notes, keeping him is proving costly.
Of course, it’s not all about goals, and Real has invested in other peripheral squad players as well. Still, with such restricted match time, persisting with Hazard seems illogical, and soon might be an appropriate moment to offload him if possible.
A financial call
Despite the costs, Real is under no obligation to sell. With a healthy spending allocation, holding onto assets Hazard and Bale has not been so problematic. Trimming down the squad and reinvesting in more readily available players may drive even more competition for places, though. The group already looks strong, as a victory away at Osasuna demonstrated once again.
Regarding output and performances, Real will consider the Hazard investment a disappointment. Recouping something for the Belgian could give it an edge in the summer transfer window, though, with players like Kylian Mbappé frequently named in tandem with the side.
Aged 32, Hazard is still an exciting prospect if he can shake off his injury issues. Unless his career takes off in Madrid, the club will not want to see his value drop on the bench as his contract—which ends in 2024—runs down. By this logic, cashing in could be a safe bet if the offer is good and everyone is satisfied.
As for who might take him, there are few clear candidates. A return to Chelsea is one option, though it’s the only likely Premier League taker. Hazard’s bond with Chelsea means a big-money move to one of its rivals would be a shock.
Given his frustrations in Spain, switching to another La Liga side is equally improbable. That leaves a handful of teams in other top leagues as possible suitors. An outside bet is Borussia Dortmund in Germany, a lesser discussed actor in the transfer market. It would be surprising but seems just as credible as any other possibility.
After much speculation, Erling Haaland is reportedly edging closer to swapping Dortmund for Manchester City in a deal that would trigger a domino effect around Europe. Assuming he leaves the Bundesliga club for a large sum, Dortmund will want to reinvest, and—while Hazard would not be a replacement for Haaland—the team would, in theory, have the money to lure the Belgian, even with a high wage bill to meet.
There is also Hazard’s brother to consider. Overshadowed by his elder sibling for so long, Thorgan Hazard has been a valued option for Dortmund and Belgium, with good things to say about playing in Germany, perhaps influencing Eden’s next move. The only caveat is Dortmund’s preference for younger talents, which doesn’t fit the La Liga man’s profile.
While a fresh start offers the chance to reset, Hazard knows Madrid has not seen anywhere near his best. Despite the ongoing setbacks, the magnitude Real boasts and what it spent on him means he still has a point to prove. The noise from Spain backs this up too.
Depending on how one sees it, one stumbling block is another winger: Vinícius Junior, whose form and almost telepathic understanding with strike partner Karim Benzema means it would require a massive effort to dislodge the Brazilian from the team.
Whatever happens, Hazard needs to play regularly. He’s approaching the final stretch of his career and wants to be in contention for the World Cup midway through next season. Belgium’s so-called golden generation is on its last legs, and—to be in with a shout—avoiding more injuries and finding a place to build momentum have to be the plan.