Real Madrid: Zidane gives green light to Hazard move
The Real Madrid coach has given his approval to Florentino Pérez regarding Hazard, which was imperative to moving forward with the operation.
The paths of Eden Hazard and Real Madrid continue to verge closer together.
Three of the four parties involved – the player, Real Madrid and Zinedine Zidane – are now in full agreement with the move. Who remains to be convinced is the fourth party, Chelsea. Although, the Premier League club are coming closer to giving the green light.
Talks between the two clubs have intensified and the scenario is currently like this: Chelsea now take losing Hazard as a given, but they don’t want to let him go for less than £100 million (116 million euros). Madrid, meanwhile, value the player at 80 or 90 million euros because of the fact that his contract ends in 2020, and are optimistic in reaching a common ground between both club’s valuations.
The tug of war between the two clubs is similar to what happened with Thibaut Courtois last year. Chelsea had known months before the summer market opened that the Belgian keeper's future was in Madrid. But the Stamford Bridge board drew out the process until they had secured Courtois’ replacement, which they found in then-Athletic Bilbao keeper Kepa in August.
In the case of Hazard, though, they already have his replacement in Christian Pulisic – who signed from Borussia Dortmund in January and will arrive at Stamford Bridge this summer – so the negotiation process should not be as prolonged as that surrounding Courtois.
Sarri: pessimistic on Hazard’s continuity at Chelsea
Aware that sooner or later both clubs will be forced to come to an agreement, Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri is not optimistic about keeping his Belgian talisman at Stamford Bridge beyond the summer.
"If Eden wants another experience it's very difficult to keep him," the Italian coach told Sky Sports earlier this week, adding that he also believed “£100 million is too cheap” for the player.
And while Pulisic will come in to partially fill the Hazard void, Sarri also weighed up the loss of the Belgian midfielder, saying: “It is very hard to get another player like him.”
Speaking to ESPN, Chelsea striker Gonzalo Higuaín also accepted the probable loss of Hazard, but the ex-Madrid striker said that his Belgian team mate had not yet asked him about life in the Spanish capital and is still hoping he will stay.
"When a player has a desire, it is difficult to change his mind,” said the Argentine footballer, who is on loan from Juventus. “What matters is Eden's decision and the decision of the board. I cannot do anything. He has not asked me [about life in Madrid] but if it's what makes him happy, I wish him the best. I hope he can stay.”
Chelsea transfer ban no obstacle, as Zidane gives approval
Now it seems that not even Chelsea’s FIFA-imposed two-window ban on inward transfers for illegally registering underage players will be an obstacle in the Hazard operation – as had been previously thought.
Chelsea are hoping that the Court of Arbitration of Sport will reduce the FIFA sanction to a caution, which would allow them to sign players in the summer. But if that does not materialise, they are not going to hold Hazard back, while they try to get as much money for their star man as possible.
“At the end of the day, Chelsea can’t prevent a player from staying against his will. If he wants to leave, he will leave," a source close to the Belgian player assured AS.
Hazard has been on Madrid's radar for months. But with the return of Zidane, the decisive step has taken place. The French coach – who, as part of his agreement to return to Madrid, has full control on transfers decisions – has now given his approval to Florentino Pérez regarding Hazard, which was imperative to moving forward with the operation.