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REAL MADRID

Real Madrid: Chelsea drop Hazard asking price, target Pépé

Real Madrid: Chelsea drop Hazard asking price, target Pépé

Lee Smith

Action Images via Reuters

Chelsea are believed to have lowered the fee they're seeking for Real Madrid target Eden Hazard, and are preparing to move for Nicolás Pépé.

Real Madrid continue to work on sealing a summer swoop for Eden Hazard.

Chelsea reportedly ready to accept 103 to 105 million euros

The Chelsea star has been a major target for Los Blancos for some time and, with his contract at Stamford Bridge moving steadily closer to expiry (his current deal runs out in 2020 and he appears to have no plans to renew), the Premier League club have accepted they have little option but to discuss the 28-year-old's sale.

Initial talks between the two clubs saw Chelsea set an asking price of 116 million euros, an amount well above the 80 or 90 million Madrid are thought to want to spend on Hazard. However, the latest reports in the UK say that the West Londoners are now ready to meet the LaLiga giants halfway, dropping the fee they're after to a figure between 103 and 105 million.

Hazard, who is not expected to start tonight's Europa League quarter-final second leg against Slavia Prague (he has sat out seven of Chelsea's 11 games in the competition this season), would, despite not being an out-and-out striker, help to restore the goalscoring prowess that has been lacking at Madrid this term. In 44 club appearances so far in 2018/19, he has racked up 19 goals and 12 assists.

Chelsea eyeing Lille's Pépé as Hazard replacement

Aware of the likelihood that Hazard will leave, Chelsea are busy making plans to fill the void left by the Belgian, and have earmarked Lille winger Nicolas Pépé as a potential summer recruit. With 19 goals to his name this season, the 23-year-old is the second top scorer in Ligue 1, behind only Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappé.

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The Blues are believed to be ready to reinvest around 80 million from the Hazard sale in prising Pépé from a club whose president, Gerard López, appears resigned to losing the Ivorian, commenting: "Four or five players will leave this summer. All clubs have to balance the books, except perhaps for one. I'd say Pépé will go."

Chelsea will have to move quickly to snare Pépé ahead of a host of other suitors, such as Serie A club Inter Milan - a state of affairs that may well have played a role in their willingness to lower their asking price for Hazard.