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REAL MADRID

Eden Hazard: Real Madrid homing in on Chelsea star

Hazard to Real Madrid: a deal that looks more and more likely

AFP

At 28, Hazard knows it's now or never. Meanwhile, Chelsea colleague Marcos Alonso appears a less straightforward option.

Chelsea are a powder keg right now. Manager Maurizio Sarri has lost the confidence of a dressing room in which, AS has learned, key members of the squad have turned against the Italian. Restricted to Europa League football this season, the Blues' priority is to get back into the Champions League, but they are currently sixth in the Premier League, outside of the European places altogether. Missing out on the continent's top club competition would leave the Londoners needing to offload star players to avoid Financial Fair Play breaches.

Now or never for Hazard and Real Madrid

And Eden Hazard is a chief candidate to go; all the ingredients are there for the Belgian to be Real Madrid's marquee signing this summer. With Hazard out of contract in June 2020, Chelsea will have little option but to listen to offers for him at the end of the season, while the player has consistently made no secret of his desire to pull on the white shirt at some point in his career. At 28, it's now or never.

That's the feeling at Madrid, where club chiefs are more and more convinced that Hazard represents the ideal close-season addition, particularly as they may well be forced to dip into the market if Isco's increasingly untenable situation under head coach Santiago Solari finally leads to the Spaniard's departure. As was the case when they signed Thibaut Courtois from Chelsea last year, the fact that Hazard will be heading into the final 12 months of his contract means the European champions can expect to negotiate a knockdown price for the forward.

Marcos Alonso a less likely option for Madrid

Marcos Alonso, another Chelsea player being tracked by Madrid, appears a less likely signing. After loaning Theo Hernández to Real Sociedad, Los Blancos expressed an interest in Alonso last summer, but when then-boss Julen Lopetegui put the brakes on the swoop, the left-back stayed put and renewed his Chelsea contract until 2023. That makes a deal for Alonso less straightforward, as does the emergence of Sergio Reguilón at Madrid. However, he remains highly rated at the Bernabéu and could yet home into view if things don't improve at Chelsea...