Chelsea have lowered their asking price. However, Belgium had not planned on Eden Hazard going anywhere until after international week.
Eden Hazard is nearer and nearer to joining Real Madrid, with Los Blancos and Chelsea likely to bring the transfer to an imminent conclusion after AS learned yesterday that talks between the two clubs had left them closing in on a deal.
On Monday, Madrid found themselves up against Chelsea demands of a 130m-euro fee; however, the Premier League club subsequently reduced their asking price, and the path seems to have been cleared towards the completion of the switch. Given that Hazard is out of contract at Stamford Bridge this time next year and has no intention of signing an extension, the Blues have little option but to agree a sale this summer - and the two clubs are working hard to make that happen.
Hazard leaving international duty not in Belgium plans...
However, sources at the Belgian FA told AS of their surprise at talk that an imminent confirmation of the transfer would meaning the 28-year-old, who is currently on international duty ahead of key clashes with Kazakhstan and Scotland on 8 and 11 June, leaving the Belgium squad to travel to Madrid. Given the importance of the double-header, this was certainly not in the Diables Rouges' plans.
When approached by AS at the Belgian Football Centre in Tubize yesterday, Hazard's focus was also firmly on the Euro 2020 qualifiers. Surrounded by fans - further evidence of his superstar status in his home country - he was unsure what to do when we asked him to sign an AS front page on which he features, hesitating before in the end opting to continue his meet and greet with supporters. It was not long before the word "Madrid" could be heard, however, as fans and AS asked: "Is there a deal; is it nearly done?" He shook his head and said only: "Have to wait."
Finally, he signed the copy of AS, which was published on 30 December 2017, applying his autograph to the newspaper above a headline that read "Hazard waits for Madrid", and on top of a phrase which, since March, has once more been the case: "Zinedine Zidane is eager to add the star to his Madrid squad." Further down the page, there are remarks by Hazard's father, in which he declares: "We've rejected two offers to renew; as for Madrid, we'll see about that if and when the time comes." A year and a half on, the time for that long-mooted move is about to come.