As you will probably already know, Juventus have confirmed one of their biggest transfer deals since the likes of Gianluigi Buffon and Pavel Nedved signed for the Turin club back in 2001. They confirmed that Real Madrid’s Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo would be wearing the black and white stripes of the Old Lady next season, signing a four-year contract for a fee of around €105M. The deal ends his nine-year stay at the Bernabeu, where he moved from Manchester United in 2009 for a then-world record transfer fee of €94M. His time at Real was laden with glory, though he surprisingly only managed two La Liga titles. 15 trophies were won in total though, including four Champions League crowns, and now he turns the page on a new chapter in his career.
Ronaldo’s departure from Spain means the number seven shirt at Real is now fair game, and there seems plenty of logic in the thinking that Los Blancos could now turn their attentions back towards Chelsea star Eden Hazard. Admittedly, it isn’t a like-for-like replacement of course, with Hazard starring mainly on the left-wing as opposed to Ronaldo who has always played more as a right winger or, more recently, a forward. However, Real Madrid have lost one of the finest players in the world in Ronaldo and so will need a big name to come in to restore the star power in Julen Lopetegui’s side. It is indeed a blow so early into the tenure of the former Spain coach, who was sacked just days before the start of the World Cup. All eyes will now be on him to act quickly to restore the balance at the club.
Real have been credited with interest in Hazard just about every transfer window for the last three or four years, and now would seem to be the time to make the move. Flush with cash from Ronaldo’s departure, and seeking another big name to help light up the Bernabeu once again, Hazard fits the mold. His form in west London has been fantastic at times and erratic at others, and often those dips have come when the papers have begun suggesting Real could come knocking once again. His head has clearly been turned in the past, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand the temptation of playing for Europe’s most successful club – one who have been European champions for the last three seasons in a row.
Ronaldo is clearly seeking a new challenge, and perhaps it is time for Hazard to look to pastures new as well. He would be a big miss in the Premier League, but the call from the white half of Madrid is a tempting one for just about any player on the planet. It’s a heavy shirt to wear, but the world’s top players have been able to bear that burden with pride. There is always the case of Gareth Bale of course, who may have something to say about Hazard coming in and taking his place. That would arguably prove the biggest stumbling block, but with Bale being linked with a move away this summer as well this is still a deal that could well happen, and would be a real lift to the reeling Real fans.
Hazard could find himself with more time to discuss things with all parties involved now as well, as Belgium exited the World Cup after a 1-0 defeat at the hands of France in Tuesday evening’s semi-final. There is still the matter of the third-place playoff to come, of course….
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