Eden Hazard was sold by Chelsea to Real Madrid for a large cost in the summer of 2019, but after failing in the Spanish capital, he appears to be on the move soon.
The Belgian left the English Premier League in 2019 with a well-deserved reputation as one of the world’s best players. Hazard scored over 100 goals and helped Chelsea win a slew of trophies over his seven seasons with the club, including two league crowns.
Real Madrid paid an eye-watering £88 million for the attacker, with add-ons raising the total cost to as much as £130 million. But, just over three years later, the 31-year-old is at a crossroads in his career after a dramatic flop at the Bernabeu.
He has only seven goals in 72 very unproductive appearances due to chronic injury troubles and a severe lack of form. His current lucrative contract is slated to end in 2024, but there is growing talk that he may make a move sooner.
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According to Spanish news outlet Defensa Central, Villa, under new manager Unai Emery, could turn to Hazard, with the assumption that “all roads lead back to England.” Hazard is expected to make a decision about his future after the World Cup in Qatar, where he will captain Belgium’s “Golden Generation.”
However, there is an acceptance that a change is needed at club level, with Hazard anxious to show that his finest years are not behind him. However, links to a return to English football are nothing new for the ex-Blues player, who has had to fend off questions for several years.
The fact that he is currently being mentioned as a target for struggling Aston Villa is an indicator of where he is at. Over the past three years, the most obvious place for his second stint in the country had been where he had spent his first.
Almost immediately after leaving Stamford Bridge, Hazard declared his desire to return to west London, addressing a supporter: “When I finish here [at Madrid], I’ll come back. I do my job here and then I come back.”
As his form and health continued to evade him at Madrid, there were further rumors of interest from Premier League clubs, including his former club. Newcastle were also rumored to be in the running, but Hazard personally blocked any move. When pressed explicitly about the possibility of a shift in the summer of 2021, he insisted that it was not a consideration.
In May of that year, he stated: “I still have a three-year contract with Real Madrid, so going back to England is out of the question. Everyone knows that my first two years were not good, so first I want to prove myself at Real Madrid. I will do everything to do that.”
More recently, his brother Kylian stated that a return to England would not be considered until Eden had reestablished himself as one of Europe’s finest players:
“He's not going to let Real go until he's proven he's the strongest there,” he told RTBF.
“He's proven himself at every club he's been to, and for me, he doesn't want to leave. I don't think he's going to leave. If the president wants him to leave, if he knows he has no chance to play, then I don't think that he will stay. But I can assure you of one thing: he will do everything to prove that he is the best player at Real.”
With that conclusion now appearing increasingly unlikely, Hazard appears to be on the verge of a move in the near future. It remains to be seen whether he will go to Chelsea or join another LaLiga disaster in Philippe Coutinho at Aston Villa.