Zinedine Zidane cannot count on Eden Hazard’s return any longer

He was the marquee addition of Real Madrid’s summer. Eden Hazard had been on the Santiago Bernabeu club’s radar for a number of years and so there was a sense of accomplishment when the Belgian finally pitched up in the Spanish capital before the start of this season, costing around £100 million from Chelsea.

Hazard was signed to be the natural heir to Cristiano Ronaldo. Real Madrid had failed to replace the Portuguese forward since he left for Juventus in the summer of 2018 and so Hazard was meant to be the new face of the capital club. So far, though, Hazard’s face has barely been seen in all-white.

Injuries have all but devastated Hazard’s first season at Real Madrid. The Belgian was forced to wait until the middle of September to make his debut for his new club and even after that there were lingering concerns over his fitness. Some even accused the former Chelsea and Lille man of being overweight, something the player himself admitted to being the case afterwards.

An ankle injury then ruled Hazard out of the first Clasico of the season at the start of December. The Belgian hasn’t played since. He is back in first team training, but there are concerns that Real Madrid’s new number seven could still miss as much as another month of action.

Hazard has never been one to hit the ground running after injury and so even if he were to return soon it will likely take him a number of weeks to find match sharpness. That would take the Belgian all the way to the final month of the season. He is just one more set back from his first season in Spain being a complete write off.

Indeed, Zidane cannot count on the return of Hazard any time soon. The stakes will be cranked up for Real Madrid over the next few weeks and months with the Spanish title race and the Champions League moving forward and so Zidane must focus on what is immediately in front of him.

It might well be the case that Hazard can contribute in the final few weeks of the season, but Zidane must reward the likes of Rodrygo and Vinicius Junior for the way they have stepped up in the Belgian’s absence. They have earned the faith of their manager and a half-fit Hazard must remain on the sidelines for the time being.

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