REAL MADRID

Hazard: Real Madrid step up negotiations to sign Chelsea star

Hazard: Real Madrid step up negotiations to sign Chelsea star

DAVID KLEIN

REUTERS

This month will be decisive in closing the Belgian forward's transfer to Madrid. The club has accelerated their strategy to land the player - like they did with Courtois.

Zidane has indicated that his priority signings this summer are Paul Pogba and Eden Hazard, and Real Madrid are forging ahead with the process of landing the Belgian. During the last few hours negotiations have been stepped up to reach an agreement with Chelsea, because the player gave his approval to the move several months ago.

Hazard first, then Pogba

The operation to sign Hazard is the more simple of the two to close for Real Madrid. The club has followed a similar approach to the one they took to bring in Thibaut Courtois last year (like Hazard, he was about to enter the final year of his contract) and Madrid's intention is to tie up Hazard's transfer first before embarking on the task of luring Pogba, which will be a far more complicated operation with various intermediaries involved. It's also a PR strategy by the club to partly mask the poor image the team has given in recent outings (against Huesca and Valencia...) in  LaLiga where they are out of the running and with nothing to play for other than securing a Champions League slot.

Zidane hinted publicly that he is keen on bringing Pogba to the Bernabéu ("If he wants to play for Real Madrid, why not?") but when asked about Hazard in his press conferences he has been more reticent because the message from the club has been that everything is in order. This month could be definitive in the operation to make Hazard a Madrid player.

Goals guaranteed

Hazard's arrival would help Zidane's team to balance the deficit of goals they've suffered since Cristiano's departure. He has contributed to 29 of Chelsea's goals this season, scoring 17 himself and setting up a further 12. All of that in 3,073 minutes playing time - an average of a goal every 106 minutes. That's a better rate than Vinicius (three goals and 12 assists), who plays a part in a goal on average every 108 minutes - three less than Benzema (111) and less than the 124 minutes Bale registers. Hazard isn't a striker but his figures are as good as or better than anyone in Madrid's current attack.