Chelsea midfielder Eden Hazard has hinted that the time may be right to leave west London and seek a new challenge. The 27-year-old has enjoyed a wonderful World Cup in Russia with his native Belgium, helping them achieve their best-ever finish of third after beating England 2-0 in St Petersburg on Saturday. With a little bit of time off now before joining up with the Chelsea squad for their pre-season, Hazard has left the door open on where he may be playing his football this coming campaign. There has of course been some upheaval at Stamford Bridge during the tournament, with Antonio Conte having been sacked and replaced with fellow Italian Maurizio Sarri – and that uncertainty seems to have opened the door on a prospective move.
Hazard has long-since been linked with a move to Real Madrid – just about every summer in recent memory has seen the two clubs embroiled in an apparent transfer saga that has never quite come to fruition. Hazard’s head did appear to be turned at one stage a couple of seasons ago where he had a very sub-standard campaign, but generally he has played at his peak throughout all the rumours. Before the World Cup began, Hazard publicly stated that Real Madrid “know what they have to do” in order to sign him, and the former Lille star still seems open to the prospect of a big-money move to the La Liga giants. After Belgium secured third place, Hazard spoke to Belgian outlet HLN, and reiterated that nothing is certain about his club future at the moment.
He said: “After six wonderful years at Chelsea it might be time to discover something different. Certainly after this World Cup. I can decide if I want to stay or go, but Chelsea will make the final decision – if they want to let me go. You know my preferred destination.” Chelsea will indeed have final say over what happens, as Hazard is contracted to the Blues for another two years. Should Real Madrid – his believed “preferred destination” – come in with a huge offer it may be seen around the Chelsea boardroom as an offer too good to resist, as opposed to potentially losing him on a free transfer in 2020.
There is another slightly interesting branch to this story too, however. Hazard’s Chelsea and Belgium team-mate Thibaut Courtois has also been credited with interest from the Bernabeu, but has been offered a new deal to keep him at Stamford Bridge. Speaking about the chance of moving back to Madrid (he enjoyed a three-year spell on loan at Atletico between 2011-2014), Courtois said: “Wherever I go, Hazard must come along.” He did also state that the contract offered by Chelsea is “different than [he] can have elsewhere”, and so perhaps the pair will remain in the Premier League under the tutelage of Maurizio Sarri after all.
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