Hazard the talking point during Madrid-Chelsea launch event
Following an event to launch a legends charity match, the future of the Belgian star was joked about, demonstrating the great relations between the two clubs.
Delegates from Real Madrid and Chelsea came together on Tuesday to present the tenth edition of the Corazón Classic Match, in which legends from both clubs will be pitted against each other in a 90-minute, 11-a-side game in front of a packed crowd at the Santiago Bernabéu in June.
During the presentation, the teams for this year’s edition were not confirmed but it is expected that the likes of Raul, Roberto Carlos, Luis Figo, Zinedine Zidane, Redondo, Marcel Desailly, Tore Andre Flo, Eidur Gudjohnsen and Ricardo Carvalho will grace the Bernabéu field. The charity match has become a regular feature in the Bernabéu post-season calendar, with Madrid veterans each year facing counterparts from some of Europe’s top clubs.
Beyond the standard protocol, the presentation event demonstrated the great relationship that exists between the two clubs, who between them negotiated two high-profile transfers last summer: Madrid landed goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois while Chelsea secured a loan deal for Mateo Kovacic.
After the event, the delegates from both clubs went together to have lunch, during which one name in particular popped up: Eden Hazard.
Madrid president Florentino Pérez even allowed himself to make a joke about the situation regarding the Chelsea striker, who is mooted to make a summer move to the Bernabéu. Although Chelsea are understood not to be particularly pleased with the constant links between their star player and the LaLiga giants.
During the interviews given by former Chelsea player and club representative at the event, Tore Andre Flo, the club’s communication team tried to pre-empt any questions regarding Hazard in a bid to keep talk of the Madrid links to a minimum.
Madrid are confident that relations between clubs are excellent but are also taking into the account the difficulties that the Hazard operation could entail. Chelsea is a financially powerful club and, besides, now faces a FIFA-sanctioned two-window transfer ban that comes into effect this summer, which could prompt them to try to block Hazard’s sale.
Although both Chelsea and Madrid expect the Court of Arbitration of Sport to reduce the penalty to a warning, which would allow the club to make summer signings and thus find a replacement for their Belgian talisman.
Hazard and 'Operation Courtois'
In public, Florentino Pérez continues to insist how it is very expensive to make Galactico-like signings nowadays and how the market has evolved since he first arrived at the club in 2000, after which he signed Figo, Zidane and Ronaldo Nazario over three consecutive summers.
However, Madrid are hoping to repeat ‘Operation Courtois’ in order to land Hazard at a bargain price. In the summer, Hazard will have only one year left on his contract and Chelsea could see themselves forced to sell him at a lower price rather than running the risk of losing him on a free a year later.
A similar thing happened last summer with the Belgian goalkeeper, who came to Madrid for a cool 35 million euros, well below his market value. However, for now, it remains to be seen if the outcome with Hazard will be as equally positive for Madrid.