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Real Madrid: Hazard turnout bettered only by Cristiano, Kaká


Eden Hazard's unveiling at the Bernabéu attracted the kind of attendance which, as they've been known to say in the entertainment industry, "surprised even the organisers". An extra tier had to be opened up to accommodate the 50,000 fans eager to see him in the white shirt and applaud his first touches of the ball as a Real Madrid player. As far as Madrid's 'galáctico' presentations go, it's a turnout that puts him in the top three of an 'unveiling-off' that only goes back as far as the start of Florentino Pérez's second tenure as president: the likes of Luis Figo, Ronaldo Nazário, Zinedine Zidane and David Beckham were presented amid less fanfare, because at that time neither they nor Pérez felt the need, I guess.

Only Cristiano and Kaká drew larger crowds to their unveilings

But as I said in this column yesterday, I like the idea - and what we saw last night merely reinforces that feeling. It's a great event for the supporters. Behind the scenes, Pérez has a go-to man by the name of Manuel Redondo who does a stand-up job of putting these things together - and then the player does the rest. The highest turnout was for Cristiano Ronaldo, a signing technically made by Ramón Calderón, but unveiled by Pérez as if one of his. (That didn't stop him from eyeing the player with suspicion until the day he flogged him to Juventus, of course.) Pérez was responsible for buying Kaká, who Calderón had tried and failed to get; but, barring his wife's penchant for mouthing off, his stint at Madrid brought little of note.

Hazard juggles the ball for the fans at the Bernabéu.
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Hazard juggles the ball for the fans at the Bernabéu.EDUARDO CANDEL REVIEJODIARIO AS

Only those two had bigger unveilings than Hazard, who is well worth the crowd he drew. A lad who combines Isco's best qualities with more pace and more goals, he's a class act. Zinedine Zidane has been on at Madrid about him ever since he led Lille to the Ligue 1 title, but Pérez wasn't convinced at that point, and now finds himself paying three times the price, because a) he's a more established star and b) prices are skyrocketing. Either way, he's Madrid's first marquee signing since James, and it was clear there was an appetite for one. He'll be followed by Ferland Mendy, while Zidane is still holding out for Paul Pogba. I'm not sure where he'd come in the 'unveiling-off', I must admit. One man who'd definitely be up there with Cristiano is Kylian Mbappé... and I've not given up hope on that just yet.